What have I learned from the creator of content worth two Pulitzers?

BoriseLave - Oct 28, 2019

The Represent System has reformed and developed the educational system under the “Knowledge Academy” brand  to such an extent that three schools are currently being organised in three cities of the region at the same time: LSPR in Skopje and Content Academy in Sarajevo and Belgrade. We’ve bitten a lot to chew, don’t you think?

Every Saturday, different lecturers teach in each of these cities and some even have a “double shift”, namely teach at the Content Academy in both cities. One of them is Damir Šagolj, a rewarded and renowned photojournalist and a two-time winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. He has photographed, visited, lived, reported from more than 26 war zones around the world – and that is the fact that distinguishes him.

Damir gave a lecture at the Content Academy in Belgrade on October 19. Two weeks earlier, he had talked on the same topics in the school in Sarajevo.

On that sunny Saturday, a projector screen we set up read “*(R)Evolution of Video Content”. The attendees gathered and waited for the lecture to begin. I came to the premises of Represent Communications in Belgrade to hear what one of the best photographers in the region had to say.

Damir’s approach was direct and relaxed, gradually engaging us in his story. He explained the difference between our photographic memory and a real situation, highlighting that we could also use math to explain and dissect different feelings and impressions.

Šagolj particularly focused on fear of failure, fear as an irrational feeling, what exactly happens in our head when we are afraid and how fear emerges in the first place.

Unavoidably, he made a reference to how he even got the Pulitzer Prize. He revealed that a year before winning the second Pulitzer he had “failed”, and then improved the original idea by including a digital format, satellite records and live broadcasts, and thus won the prestigious award. A moral of the story: Learn from your mistakes. He admitted to not focusing initially on a technical, namely technological aspect, which was why “The New York Times” beat them.

In an exceptionally practical and applicable manner, he explained today’s challenges in digital communication, underlining the importance of a comprehensive approach through all visual formats: photo, video, website, social media and other available channels of communication.

In regard to digital content in the media, Šagolj used a specific example to explain how to visualise data and today’s geopolitical challenges – the issue they approached from all possible aspects when then won the second Pulitzer for reporting on the life of the Rohingya people in Burma/Myanmar – and stressed out that was a true example of the entire team’s commitment. In addition to the journalistic part of the endeavour, they dealt with analytics a lot as well. It’s one of the secrets of success.

Furthermore, it is important to win “trust” of readers/audience and pay specific attention to a “technical/aesthetic value” in one’s work: he taught us and provided guidelines for working on it and focusing on a technical narrative.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from this lecture – I wanted to come and hear what Damir had to say. He initiated a range of topics and made me think – I’d already known a lot, but it was worth hearing someone who systematised all that knowledge and presented his appealing story.



PhD Borislav Miljanović

CEO (Represent System)

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