This year’s WEASA opened up with a speech by Ryan Heath – one of Europe’s most recognisable political correspondents. He held a deep conversation with participants on issues as diverse as the power of big tech, regulation, algorithms, and European politics. Much of it focused on how the digital era changed the face of modern media – if we see the media as a key foundation of today’s democracy, then the average citizens spends more on their coffee than on their democracy every day, Ryan remarked.

WEASA participants – over 50 young professionals from the Eastern Partnership, Western Balkans, and Poland – represent a wide range of sectors, including the media, academia, NGOs, and public institutions. This year’s selection process was remarkably competitive – over 350 applied.

Over the next days, WEASA will focus on a wide range of subjects, including social media dilemmas and moderation, algorithms and AI, journalism and democracy, and practical digital security. The programme will not focus on facts and knowledge alone; it will also include plenty of workshops that will show participants how they could apply its teachings in their everyday professional lives.

This year’s WEASA marks the seventh edition of the Academy. It is a joint project by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, the Leaders of Change Foundation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission.