Social media has not killed us, says AIPS President Gianni Merlo

by Anam Arsalan, Qatar Sports Press Committee

DOHA, October 30, 2018 –  AIPS President Gianni Merlo has stressed the fact that the primary goal of the ‘AIPS Executive Committee / Jury Meet – 2018’, os to select the “best” entry for the AIPS Sports Awards scheduled for January in  Lausanne, Switzerland.

Merlo, who is leading the AIPS Executive Committee members and jurors from across the world in this 4-day event, spoke to renowned sports journalist Rhodri Williams of AlKass Sports Channels, ahead of the meet at the Sharq Village & Spa – the venue for the meet.

“We have to judge all the entries and after that we will choose the best. The situation is this one – We have received 1276 entries submissions in eight categories – So that is a huge amount of work and they are coming form 119 countries. This is the most successful result.”

Putting the importance of award in perspective, Merlo added, “You can imagine in some way the total world is following these awards. From here we will chose the semi-finalists and that would be around 15 from each category. Then after that a jury of 12 members, specialised in finding only the finalists; that will be three; will be invited in Lausanne.”

“In Lausanne we would decide from among these three who is the first, second and the third.”

Speaking on the fact that a large number of journalists have applied for the awards, and that they have submitted some of their bests works for it, he said, “The good thing the journalists want to fight for their work [to be recognised]. They want to show that we are still alive. That so-called social media has not killed us and this is the answer to it. Because our work is culture. For example – one of the jurors who has already seen the submissions. He told me that there is a journalist, who is always travelling around the world. Going into this submission, he took another trip around the world, knowing things that he didn’t know before, because sports [that] are in the society are really amazing.”

The AIPS President went on to focus how the young and upcoming journalists today have to struggle to defend their independence and how the AIPS is playing a vital role towards it. “Our role is – first, to defend our independence; to send around a new culture, because we have to look to the future. We have to adapt our profession to the new tools, but the principle of our profession stays the same.”

The former ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’ journalist also shed light on the changing scenario in journalism.

“It is not because of the [presence] of the computer or that of the mobile phones that our philosophy is changing and also our dignity is changing – NO! The principle of the fair journalism is still there. We have to find a new solution of how to write, how to propose, how to send some images.”

“For example – In the submission we found something that ‘New York Times’ had spoken about last week – there would be some video of 360 degrees that helps you to look around the event. In the future maybe that the image would be important, but even after that, people want to read. For example, now there has been an increase in the number of young people who are going [back to] the books. People are going back to the book, back to the paper. Because Kindle and ‘Sound’ are nice and sound, but it’s not the same feeling,” said the 71-year old journalist.

Citing an example from California, he added, “In California people are thinking that we cannot allow people to spend all the day on mobile phones or on the computer. That we completely kill their personality, so we have to go back to their human part. I know that sometimes it looks like a dream, but we must be dreamers.”

On the fact that Doha has become a home of international sporting events, Merlo added, “My first Congress as President [of the AIPS] was in Doha [in 2006]. After that, we have had another Congress [in 2016] and two other Executive Committee Meets and we have had two young reporters’ projects here.”

“The cultural discussion, here has always been very hot; we have discussed how to promote the culture. So, it’s normal that we are here. It is normal because the journalists of Qatar [Qatar Sports Press Committee] are our partners in the world. But, especially they were always together, we discussed about culture. Together we are building a new culture, so it was important to begin here and afterwards we will go around the world,” he said.

Speaking further about embracing the culture of Doha, the IAAF award-winning journalist, said, “The Executive Committee members when they finish their work, they would spend one more day here and go to visit the facilities for the [FIFA World Cup] 2022, to visit the [Qatar] Foundation, and have different experiences. This because some of them have already seen Qatar six years ago, four years ago, but now new things have come up.”

“Qatar is like Beijing of some years ago, every six month you would find something new. It would provide them with the [opportunity] to enter in the era of the new World Cup here. And a visit to the Gymnastics [48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships 2018] event as well.”

“This is the most important thing – we will touch down everywhere,” he added.

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