Attending the last public forum arranged in the Kino Hall of the Goethe Institut, before it becomes dismantled, was not only a duty but also a pleasure. It was a last opportunity to walk through the hallowed halls that had heard and seen so much of German and Canadian cultural exchange that the venue burst at the seams and needed to expand into other venues, which are capable of absorbing the increased interest in all things German.
This last panel discussion was so very typical for the Goethe Institute in that it always looks to the future while preserving the past. The topic was "Cultural journalism online- The Internationalization of the audience".
As Dr. Arpad Soelter, Director of the institute pointed out, some of us still like to see the evening news on TV or read about events in the paper, but the audience of the future might be doing it less and less but will instead, as do many already of the younger generation, read it online.
People between 20 and 30 do nearly everything online. They were raised with a computer.
I can observe it for myself, having students in the house from overseas. Everything takes place on the computer, including phone calls, emails from the professor, family news, vacation planning, travel reservations and bookings, book and music orders, news and weather reports, research for all sorts of subjects and purposes…. The list is endless.
Surprisingly books are also still read, mainly for study purposes, it appears.
Dr. Sölter pointed out a disturbing truth: People are loosing faith in journalism. One must recall how even the most distinguished and trusted papers like the New York Times bought into the "weapons of mass destruction" theories. "Journalism as a tranquilizer in a democratic discourse", he called another more recent phenomenon. Yet that is really not new; spin control has always been the hallmark of war prone regimes.
What to do? Is it the uncertainty that drives more people to the Internet, because here one can cross-reference easily and fast to get to more accurate data? How does it all work and how will it be used and will it be useful?
There are a lot of questions and they "confirm our conviction that we need globalised intellectual exchange and that the English language and the Internet are important tools in the process and a bridge to diversity", Dr. Soelter stated.
Thank you Dr. Sölter! We share your vision! And so did Naomi Buck, Editor of www.signandsight.com , Germany’s media Service in English; Terence Dick, editor ,Akimbo, Toronto Arts promoter online; Jowi Taylor, Host, CBC Radiao blog; Jinhan Ko, Artist,"Instant Coffee" and art collective.
And it was an interesting evening for sure. However, many questions remained unanswered, pointing out that it is not quite clear yet to all on the net how it works, how to reach ones audience, the right one, and that other then for straight news services, interaction with the people out there is required to stay on top of it, stay tuned in and bring what is needed and wanted.
In a world were a lot of people are totally overrun with surveys this is not easy to do. The younger ones do not mind so much. For them all this is part of their culture. They like to interact on the world wide net… it is their oyster.
And it is the future, and the future is here!
Stay tuned for Echo Germanica’s revamped Internet presence in the month ahead. AND please fill out the survey at www.echoworld.com on the front page is the button to take you there. Thank you!
In every culture at any given time there will be some things that remain the same and those that change. Our world is not remaining the same and the practices how we do business also change. Thus ethics in business is a never-ending story that needs to be rewritten occasionally to suit and fit the circumstances.
Nowadays, in a global village atmosphere, it is more than ever apparent that understanding the market place means more than just knowing what the neighbouring country produces cheapest and best and in abundance. We now receive goods from our neighbour’s neighbours and they have special requirements. Someone from a totally different culture is doing business in a totally different way from the one we are used to. The population of the western world especially is well aware of the political and cultural differences between nations, that sometime appear worlds apart, not just a couple of thousand miles.
People have crossed boarders into territories that are unfamiliar with their customs and have expectations someone from a far away land might not be able to fulfill. Corporations are involved in international trade and dealings with local people. When is something exploitation and when just good business? When is still ok to just look after profits and when does a corporation have to give back, somewhere, somehow?
This was the subject of a seminar sponsored by the Goethe Institute in the German Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Toronto.
Interesting was the fact that of the several panel members, everyone had a different component to offer on the subject. A study found that people were not so interested in the philanthropic activities of a corporation but rather wished for better and less harmful products. That in itself would mean that a corporation is practicing good citizenship. Banks, in this case the Bank of Nova Scotia, is very proud of their policy not to invest in environmentally harmful venues, for instance, and also invest outside of Canada in smaller nations that have a good potential, like Jamaica.
Business ethics are certainly on the curriculum at University levels and Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten wrote a comprehensive book of study material, already in its second print on the subject of "business ethics- Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalisation".
Dirk Matten, originally from Germany, an expert on the subject of ethics, was at hand to speak about that subject. It was clear, each area on the planet has different needs and requirements, customs and expectations and a good corporation has to understand these and act responsibly. In our world today it is no longer good business just to think about making money as in the old adage: It is the business of business to profit. Leaving the 3rd world behind has caused lots of problems already, as all can see. More then ever an inclusive way of doing business has to be found that is equitable and fair to all parties. Win win situations are the goal these days, a concept that a large part of business people do not understand yet fully and do not quite know how to bring about. www.oxfordtextbooks.co.uk/orc/cranebe2e/ is an online resource centre for students of the book on ethics. It has some resources anyone can get to , for others, well, you need to be a student or teacher. Never the less, it is important to know that corporate social responsibility can be explained grandly in bigger concepts, but to this day it defines simple definition, because it depends on so many different factors, like the expectations of stakeholders for instance, meaning those entities a corporation is somehow connected with and has to show some responsibility to. Social responsibility towards the stakeholders and shareholders alone is no longer enough. Other considerations for global interaction have to be worked out. Europe has already a membership organisation for this sort of ethics design. We have not found one here, but there are some business models, such as the Bank of Nova Scotia around and other corporations practice the expanded ethics point of view too, but the public is largely unaware of the philanthropic or ethical actions and behaviour of corporations.
The room at the Chamber was packed with interested listeners. Perhaps it is a good sign that the interest in ethics is rising as much as the profits are. If only the subject would not be so complex! If only we could bring it down to : Don’t do any harm, while making profit and give some back to where it is needed most!
I know we are trying. Hopefully it is enough. Ethics will be the defining subject of our current civilisation. It will determine if we make it or break it. Professor Dirk Matten and his colleague have done their part to indoctrinate a new generation of students into a new world of business, a world that needs to be brave!
That Toronto has as its German sister city Frankfurt we know, but recently we learned that Milano is also related that way to Toronto. That in itself was reason enough to see what the Italian Trade Commission had to offer when it showcased Lombardia in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Cultural expression finds many ways and also has to do with location and time. Our Germanic nature is to be punctual in all things, including planes and trains; but not so the European neighbours to the south that call us Tedesco. Starting a half an hour late is not unusual. And so it was this morning too, yet it became clear that it was not the organizers, but the local political clout that was late in arriving, including the minister of finance, who should have spoken earlier then expected.
I never noticed before how many local politicians are of Italian extraction in our fair town. At this occasion there were 5 local speakers and 4 were Italian, including the Minister of Finance of Ontario and the Deputy Mayor of Toronto. A lot of Italian was spoken, some of it had to be translated, as the visitors from Italy did not speak English. I recall German politicians some 30 years back also not always being able to speak English, something that has changed nowadays.
That mentioned as an aside to a most interesting presentation. Lombardia is in many ways quite similar to Ontario. Both are considered the economic engine of their nation with a strong city, Milano, as a centrepiece. Wine and olive oil are freely traded between our two nations and both sides are looking to improve relations and expand into other areas, such as design, an area Italy is top notch in. Anyone interested in finding out more about doing business with Lombardia can contact the Trade Commission on the internet via firstname.lastname@example.org or the Italian Trade Commission at 438 University Ave, Suite 1818, Toronto, telephone 416-598-1566.
Until next time
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