Magda Abu-Fadil on AJA Judges Panel

Media Unlimited Director Magda Abu-Fadil joined experts on the Arab Journalism Award’s (AJA) judging panels that evaluated entries nominated for coveted prizes to be presented in May 2013.

She attended a meeting in Dubai of committee representatives for 12 of the 14 prize categories. It grouped noted Arab journalists, academics and researchers and was chaired by AJA director Muna Busamra.

AJA Director Muna Busamra chairs judges' committee meeting in Dubai

AJA Director Muna Busamra chairs judges’ committee meeting in Dubai

The Dubai Press Club, which oversees the AJA process, announced the names of the 60 judges in April.

It was the first time in the AJA’s 12-year history that judges’ names were made public ahead of the awards ceremony.

AJA logo

AJA logo

The awards will be handed out at the end of Arab Media Forum scheduled for May 14-15.

There were a record 4,146 entries in this year’s lineup with 33 finalists vying for top place in their respective categories.

Abu-Fadil evaluated articles in the investigative journalism category.

Magda Abu-Fadil discusses investigative journalism entries

Magda Abu-Fadil discusses investigative journalism entries

Judges scrutinize anonymous articles according to strict rules and submit their evaluations online.

The committees’ recommendations are reviewed and approved by the AJA board, which also selects the best annual column and media personality of the year.

Some 600 jury members have served on panels since the prize’s inception in 1999, AJA deputy director Jasim Al Shemsi said.



Abu-Fadil Article As Part of EWIC Public Outreach Project

An article by Media Unlimited director Abu-Fadil entitled “Arts: Women Journalists and Women’s Press: Central Arab States” [Arts Women Journalists and womens press central arab states Abu Fadil] was selected to be used as part of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures’ Public Outreach Project.

Arts Women Journalists and women's press central Arab states Abu Fadil-1

The outreach project covers a range of community organizations, including K-12 teachers and the media, with a goal of disseminating knowledge about women and Islamic cultures.

The project is funded by a Henry Luce Foundation grant, and the public outreach is organized by EWIC’s General Editor, Suad Joseph as well as Associate Editors, Bahar Davary, Marilyn Booth, Sarah Gualtieri and Elora Shehabuddin.

As part of the project, the article published in 2007 will be made available on the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and General Editor’s website.

It will also be published as a brochure and in brief format to be handed out to local agencies, NGOs, schools, religious institutions, and interfaith organizations.

Dr. Suad Joseph is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Media Ethics, Violence Against Children on Rotana’s “Sayidati”

Ethics came to the fore again – this time on the topic of violence against children and how much of it should be covered by the media.

In an interview on the Rotana Khalijia channel’s program “Sayidati,” Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil stressed the importance of drawing red lines where children are concerned and urging media to abide by guidelines for good journalistic practice on issues related to violence.

Magda Abu-Fadil discusses media ethics and children on Rotana’s “Sayidati"

Magda Abu-Fadil discusses media ethics and children on Rotana’s “Sayidati”

The show’s segment related the cases of the body of a naked child splashed on TV screens, a girl stricken with AIDS being visited by celebrities, and a boy whose parents abused him.

Abu-Fadil said it was important to create awareness through the media about such incidents but that it was equally critical to ensure that one does not cross that very fine line between reporting and sensationalism.

“Sayidati,” co-hosted by Saudi presenter Maysaa Al Amoudi, is broadcast live from Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

MU Director on Cover of UAE Media Mag

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil made it on the cover of “Al I3lam wal 3sr” (Media and Era), a United Arab Emirates monthly magazine focused on media issues.

Cover of Al I3lam wal 3sr includes MU director

Cover of Al I3lam wal 3sr includes MU director

The wide-ranging interview in the magazine’s March issue shed light on Abu-Fadil’s career in print, broadcast and online media, as well as her stint in academia and her take on media ethics, social networks, and how to re-purpose oneself as a journalist.

A PDF of the Al I3lam wal 3sr article can be downloaded here.

Walking A Tightrope: News Media & Freedom of Expression in the Middle East

Walking A Tightrope: News Media & Freedom of Expression in the Middle East by Layla Al-Zubaidi, Susanne Fischer and Magda Abu-Fadil is a good reference on the state of affairs in the MENA region with a focus on six Arab countries.

Over the past 15 years, the Arab World1 has witnessed the rapid development of its news media, raising standards of reporting as well as expectations. Satellite news channels have successfully breached national boundaries and have stirred public debate, challenged censorship and prompted critical reflection. Audiences across the region and in the diaspora have been actively participating in talk shows, and female anchors and hosts provide new role models for women in the region.

These channels have also managed to reverse the traditional flow of news from Western media to the region. In 1990, Arab viewers turned to CNN for live coverage, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and coalition forces led by the USrolled back the invasion. When a US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, it was Western media that sought coverage from their Arab counterparts.

With the outbreak of what has become known as the “Arab Spring,” the media landscape is again in a heightened state of flux, as new questions arise: Have Facebook, Twitter and YouTube taken over, or do satellite television channels still enjoy the lion’s share of audiences? Are accurate figures on who is influencing whom attainable, at a time when traditional media are struggling to remain financially afloat – in the Arab World and beyond?

What about citizen journalists armed with mobile phones, small digital devices, Internet connections and other means of communication, who are competing to disseminate their messages of anger, hope, fear, defiance, demands for freedom and a better life, while their leaders cling to power and insist on squashing all forms of dissent?

The authors attempt to answer this and other questions in the study that can be downloaded from the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s website.

Tunisian Media Aren’t Quite Free Yet

“It all seemed so promising.

Tunisia rid itself of the shackles that had choked it for 23 years under the oppressive rule of Zine El Abdine Ben Ali and the media started breathing easier when journalists, bloggers and activists of all stripes made up for lost time with a vengeance.

But since that unforgettable December 2010 when Mohammad Bouazizi set himself ablaze to protest being roughed up by a policewoman and died of his burns, it’s been a bumpy ride for Tunisian media and there was still no light at the end of the tunnel at press-time.”

The rest of this article by Magda Abu-Fadil is available in the scholarly journal Middle East Media Educator (MEME) edited by Dr. Alma Alma Kadragic, Director, New Programs in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Wollongong in Dubai, UAE.

Dr. Alma Kadragic, MEME's editor

The journal “aims to bridge the gap between media educators and practitioners.”

MEME, which is eclectic in its editorial policy, is the first such journal in the Middle East, and strives to encourage dialogue between industry and academe in a region where informed analysis of the media is not widespread.

Downloadable PDFs of the journal are available on this Media Unlimited page.

Media Unlimited Trains Gulf Journalists on Crises/Conflicts Coverage

Crises and conflicts – a topic all journalists should learn to cover since they inevitably encounter them in their work at some point.

Media Unlimited conducted a five-day workshop grouping reporters and editors from Kuwait and Oman on how to write about prickly issues such as sectarian strife; economic, political and social crises; and, unexpected events.

Participants from the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) and Oman News Agency (ONA) learned from case studies, viewed videos of unfolding crises, and wrote news and features on related topics.

KUNA business reporter Suleiman Rida writes on Kuwaiti finance minister’s resignation

They also acquired skills on the importance of integrating social media in their stories and using them as sources of information.

KUNA journalists watch video on covering demonstrations

Other topics included the need for online research, reliance on archives, establishing an extensive network of good sources and learning how to deal with them in a crisis.

ONA’s Taleb Al Riyami and Abdallah Alhajri tackle the link between poor education and unemployment in the Gulf

Equally important was focusing on how to operate in a hostile environment, accidents and shocks that adversely affect journalists, and coverage of traumatized victims of conflicts.

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil flanked by trainees in Kuwait

The participants also learned about proper coordination between editors and field reporters, newsroom dynamics, ethics while on crisis assignments, and how best to write and edit content for different multimedia platforms.

The workshop May 26-31, 2012 was held at the headquarters of the Kuwait News Agency.

MU Speaks Out on Need for Better Journalism Teaching/Training at Dubai’s 11th Arab Media Forum

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told participants at an Arab Media Forum (AMF) 2012 workshop that academics must get up to speed and not deride the importance of social media.

Some panelists and members of the audience said online media users could not be described as journalists since they don’t have the requisite academic and professional qualifications.

Magda Abu-Fadil (second from right) during AMF2012 workshop on instinctive online journalists (Courtesy of DPC)

But, Abu-Fadil argued, many Arab journalism schools lacked resources and because of their poor curricula were turning out functional illiterates by not providing students with the knowledge base and skills for today’s exploding media market.

Additionally, faculty members were often below par and incapable of keeping up with the times, hence their aversion to digital advances, social media, and inability to incorporate them in their programs.

Media Unlimited featured at Arab Media Forum 2012 in Dubai (Courtesy of DPC)

The workshop — which preceded the two-day event’s official opening — focused on whether social and online media users had become journalists by instinct.

Talk show host Zeina Yazigi (Twitter @zyazigi) of Dubai TV interviewed Abu-Fadil on her show “Al Shari’ Al Arabi” (The Arab Street) to discuss the impact of online and social media on Arabs in the wake of revolutions gripping the region and whether citizen journalists posed serious competition to traditional media.

Read details of the 11th Arab Media Forum organized by the Dubai Press Club May 8-9, 2012.


Magda Abu-Fadil: Tunisia’s Social Media, Slip in Freedom on Al Hurra TV

Tunisian activists fear post-revolution gains may be slipping due to pressures and threats from hardline Islamists and supporters of the ruling Annahda Party, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told Washington-based Al Hurra TV in an interview from Beirut.

Abu-Fadil had referred to activists like Slim Amamou in a Huffington Post piece and reiterated his and others’ concerns about restrictive controls on traditional and online media.

Magda Abu-Fadil interviewed by Al Hurra TV

Asked how Annahda could fight social media when the party was using such tools to disseminate its message, Abu-Fadil replied: “Attacks or piracy are often used by regimes to counter adversaries.”

She added that oppressive governments often resorted to various measures to promote their ideas and attack opponents such as bloggers, activists and journalists who seek a wider margin of freedom in their countries.

“Social media are a necessity for all,” Abu-Fadil said on B-Link, a segment of the Al Hurra show “Al Youm.”

MU Contributes to Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015

Media Unlimited contributed to the 4th edition of the Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015 report published by the Dubai Press Club. The 252-page English version and 125-page Arabic edition shed light on developments in the Middle East/North Africa region by providing forecasts and analysis of traditional and Arab media. Both books can be downloaded as PDFs by filling out online forms at and

Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015

Arab Media Outlook Arabic Edition