A group of parliamentary committee staffers learned how to become effective communicators in the fourth Journalism Training Program (JTP) workshop of a series focused on Lebanese legislative affairs. ”The workshop was important, useful and professional, and I hope to attend another training course,” commented Assaad Nassar, from the National Defense Committee.
His views were echoed by other participants in the five-day training course in November 2010 on communication/media crisis management conducted by the JTP and funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
Abu-Fadil and Kabbara with parliamentary staff trainees and WFD’s Sarah El-Yafi Trainees learned about building bridges with the media, deadlines for different news organizations, how press offices operate, writing news releases, capitalizing on technological advances to promote their issues, and setting up digital newsrooms.
Hala Awada, a researcher in parliament’s Studies and Information Directorate, was particularly keen to acquire news writing skills as well as the ability to use the Internet more effectively in her daily work. Participants became familiar with the role of official spokespeople and having plans in place for crises, to facilitate dealing with journalists in times of trouble.
The art of the interview, media ethics and the organization of news conferences were among the topics covered in the workshop. Journalist Ibrahim Arab was on hand to familiarize participants with on-camera appearances, while parliamentary reporter/editor Akram Hamdan helped them with writing exercises.
For Omar Chehadeh, secretary of the Media and Communications Committee, it was an opportunity to benefit from practical exercises and case studies related to legislative matters. Finance and Budget Committee staffer Kassem Gharib felt he could apply most of what he learned in his job, while Lina Hobeich, who heads the Francophone Department, suggested all parliamentary employees be trained in dealing with the media.
JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil was the primary trainer, aided by veteran journalist Rouba Kabbara in the second WFD-funded workshop for parliamentary staffers.