Medialab & Storycode: two communities of practice in Brussels

Sylvain Plazy News and events

If you are a Brussels-based media worker looking for tips and ideas, the Belgian capital offers quite a lot of possibilities for you in communities of practice. Wether you are a staff journalist or a freelance web developper, some afterwork sessions will help you meeting people from the media world, mingle and get connected. Out of the various places, let’s focus today on two: the Medialab sessions and Storycode.

These afterwork events or communities are based on a common principle: media workers and amateurs come at their own initiative to present new ideas and projects they are working on. The audience is then invited to interact, to suggest and propose changes on the projects, and all this finishes with a drink and some chit-chat to form a community.

The Medialab sessions concept was created by Romain Saillet, a French journalist who organises brainstorming events for media workers. The meeting is every second Monday of each months at the European Communication School (ECS) of Brussels, it is free and anyone can come. The goal of these after work sessions is to form a community of journalists and media workers who want to meet, share, brainstorm and have fun with other people and colleagues working in the media sector.

Storycode Brussels is a community dedicated to transmedia creation and innovative storytelling. They organise meetings (2 per years) in the IHECS buildings in Brussels. The idea is quite similar to the Medialab Sessions: conferences and workshops are organized for journalists to present ideas and projects, and to help them creating a team, finding mentors, fundings and opportunities to publish or broadcast their stories.

The principle for both events is roughly the same: participants come with ideas of projects they have or would like to do and pitch, brainstorm, express their needs and interact. At the end of each presentations (15-20 minutes) a round of Q&A is organized with the audience, constituted mainly of other media workers and students. After these formal presentations and Q&A the floor is given to the audience and anyone with an idea, a project or who just wants to introduce himself can take the microphone and speak.

What is interesting and represents a great value is the diversity of profils, backgrounds and jobs of the participants. These sessions are not made exclusively for journalists, but really for all media enthusiasts. Amongst the participants are journalists of course, but also managers, web developers and designers, coders, cameramen, writers etc. Some of them are working for « traditional media » (L’Echo, RTL), other for « new media » (Emakina, Newsant, MediaMonkey), but the majority are freelancers and students looking for ideas and contacts.

These events can be considered as communities of practice as they fit perfectly with the definition given by Etienne Wenger: media workers having a same domain of interest, forming a community to share their knowledge and experience. As part of our research is on identifying and analyzing communities of practice for media workers, these after work sessions will likely become case-study material for the Media Clusters Brussels (MCB) research team.