Arab Journalists Learn Religion Coverage

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil helped train Lebanese, Jordanian and Iraqi journalists in Beirut on the mechanics of covering religion, religious diversity and freedom of expression during a much-needed five-day workshop.

They had been given a solid dose of religious, philosophical and academic arguments and definitions in previous days by men of the cloth, university faculty members and other experts in a mini-course organized by the Adyan Foundation, an organization promoting interreligious studies and spiritual solidarity.

Abu-Fadil on how to cover religion

Abu-Fadil on how to cover religion

Abu-Fadil’s sessions in October 2016 focused on the essence of covering religion, the research involved, the fieldwork, the critical thinking needed for such assignments, and the hazards involved.

Videos included how sectarian provocation in the media was monitored in Lebanon in 2015, how religious differences are interpreted by children (based on their upbringing), how to detect bias in reporting, religious forgiveness, and tolerance.

The tips she provided included reporting accurately about religious groups and matters, not assuming anything, being fair and balanced, familiarizing oneself with religious laws where they apply, providing the necessary context to any story and adding the economic, political, social and cultural dimensions to reports.

Religious and sectarian differences in Lebanon

Religious and sectarian differences in Lebanon

She also cautioned them about politicians’ use of religious verses to further political and possibly nefarious agendas.

Abu-Fadil moreover focused on media ethics in the religious context with countless caveats on pitfalls that could sink journalists like inciting hate, misusing social media, and disseminating rumors.

Arab Universities Must Include Journalists’ Safety Course in Media Programs

A course on safety for journalists is a must and Arab universities should incorporate it in their media programs, experts said at a two-day UNESCO conference in Beirut.

UNESCO’s safety guide for journalists

UNESCO’s safety guide for journalists

“News organizations should train journalists and insist on safety measures and the use of proper equipment,” said Yazbeck Wehbe, a veteran of LBCI TV News who also teaches journalism at several Lebanese universities.

Academics from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco and Oman went over a draft of a semester-long course to be taught as one required unit, as an elective, or, from which they can select components to incorporate in other relevant media courses.

Magda Abu-Fadil (3rd from right) at Beirut conference on safety for journalists course in college curricula

Magda Abu-Fadil (3rd from right) at Beirut conference on safety for journalists course in college curricula 

Speakers included a security expert as well as four noted Lebanese journalists – two who work locally and two whose international track record in covering conflict zones is legend.

The course syllabus includes an overview and raison d’etre for safety as well as content on planning and personal safety, risk assessment, travel security, health and health care in hostile environments, demonstrations (and riots), natural disasters, gender safety, digital security, ethics, international humanitarian law, and safe investigative reporting.

Patrick Baz (a/k/a “Boom Boom” Baz), a world-renowned photojournalist whose career is linked to Agence France-Presse (AFP), offered valuable insights on how he covered some of the hottest spots in the Arab world and what lingering impact it’s had on him.

International photojournalist Patrick Baz in Fallujah, Iraq

International photojournalist Patrick Baz in Fallujah, Iraq

The February 2016 event was a follow-up to last year’s launch in Jordan of the initiative in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It dovetailed with the goals of the “U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.”

“Being a correspondent is going to places and sometimes bearing witness to war crimes,” said Samia Nakhoul, a Reuters veteran and Middle East editor who was seriously injured and almost died when U.S. tanks lobbed shells into the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad where foreign media were based during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Al Jadeed TV Vice Chair Karma Khayat, IFJ President Jim Boumelha and Reuters Middle East Editor Samia Nakhoul

Al Jadeed TV Vice Chair Karma Khayat, IFJ President Jim Boumelha and Reuters Middle East Editor Samia Nakhoul

The Beirut gathering came 10 days after UNESCO held a conference on “News Organizations Standing Up for the Safety of Media Professionals” at its Paris headquarters that drew some 300 international media leaders focused on safeguarding their staffers and ending impunity for attacks against them.

The course will undergo revision before being made available to all Arab universities and the public at large.

IFJ publications on journalists' casualties and safety

IFJ publications on journalists’ casualties and safety

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil, one of the experts involved in creating this course, moderated sessions at the Beirut conference. 

MU Director Talks on Lebanese Media Hate Speech at Cairo Seminar

Lebanese media mirror the country’s political, economic, and social ambiance, to the detriment of accuracy, fairness and balance in many instances, Magda Abu-Fadil told a Cairo seminar in November 2015.

Moroccan Professor Mohamed Allali and Magda Abu-Fadil at hate speech seminar at AUC

Moroccan Professor Mohamed Allali and Magda Abu-Fadil at AUC hate speech seminar 

The Media Unlimited director listed a number of adjectives, descriptions, stereotypes and ethnic or sectarian slurs that often creep into the public sphere and translate into hate speech, augmented by biased media coverage, she said.

Participants at Cairo hate speech and ethics seminar

Participants at Cairo hate speech and ethics seminar

It’s also common for politicians from opposing factions to engage in mudslinging through the media, although laws and regulations, not to mention basic media ethics, should act as a deterrent, she added.

Conferees discuss the role of press councils

Conferees discuss the role of press councils

The two-day seminar, held at the American University in Cairo, was a collaborative effort by the Ethical Journalism Network, the Norwegian Institute of Journalism, the Egyptian Editors Association and the Egypt Media Development Program 

Seminar group

Seminar group

The seminar dealt with the definition of hate speech, how to counter hate speech, case studies from the participants’ respective countries, group discussions with prominent media personalities, and efforts to establish a regional center for hate speech monitoring.

It grouped participants from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Britain, and the United States and is a follow-up to an earlier event in Beirut in 2014.

 

Abu-Fadil Addresses Beirut Hate Speech Seminar

There’s never enough said about media ethics, notably when it involves hate speech perpetuated by the media.

So the London-based Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) partnered with Beirut’s Maharat Foundation and the Norwegian Institute of Journalism and convened experts from across the Middle East and North Africa to discuss how to combat hate speech in the media.

Director Aidan White explains EJN's five-point test for hate

Director Aidan White explains EJN’s five-point test for hate

I Hate You: Hate Speech and Sectarianism in Arab Spring Media is a good example of what we face today. It’s a 385-page book of well-documented case studies from across the region.

I Hate You: Hate Speech and Sectarianism in Arab Spring Media

I Hate You: Hate Speech and Sectarianism in Arab Spring Media

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil brought up the need for serious review of media ethics and presented guidelines on good journalistic practice at the November 2014 seminar in Beirut.

There are regular calls to end sedition and sectarianism in Lebanon, she noted, but said there were no serious efforts to hold the media, bloggers and activists accountable, without resorting to draconian measures like jail sentences and banning of outlets.

Magda Abu-Fadil demonstrates how media fuel hate speech

Magda Abu-Fadil demonstrates how media fuel hate speech

She pointed to the Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide launched with colleague Rouba El Helou in May to help netizens publish acceptable content.

“There’s a great need to shed light on hate speech that leads to murder and other crimes,” said Abdel Salam Sidahmed, the Middle East regional representative at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), adding that racism was on the rise on the Internet and in social media.

Attorney Tony Mikhael, who oversees Maharat’s media monitoring arm, explained hate speech in legal terms in Lebanon.

Attorney Tony Mikhael explains legalities and hate speech

Attorney Tony Mikhael explains legalities and hate speech

The event’s participants hailed from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Turkey and Norway.

MU Director Trains Lebanese, Syrian Journalists in Beirut

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil trained two groups of Lebanese and Syrian journalists in a follow up to earlier courses organized by BBC Media Action.

Lebanese journalists learn how to tighten their copy

Lebanese journalists learn how to tighten their copy

Key expert and BBC veteran Russell Peasgood provided guidance on how to improve their TV and radio reporting and editing skills.

Russell Peasgood explains fine points of good TV coverage

Russell Peasgood explains fine points of good TV coverage

The consecutive May 2014 workshops in Beirut included reporters and bloggers from various print, broadcast and online media in Lebanon and Syria as well as Syrian journalists in exile.

Magda Abu-Fadil shoots training session video

Magda Abu-Fadil shoots training session video

Stories ranged from hard news coverage and feature articles on the conflict in Syria and Syrian refugees, to the work of municipalities, water policies in the Middle East, university curricula, and women’s electoral rights and empowerment.

Syrian journalist's report appears on Aljazeera

Syrian journalist’s report appears on Aljazeera

The Syrian journalists discussed obstacles they faced in verifying information about casualties, obtaining accurate data from opposing sources, and assorted dangers while reporting from the field.

Syrian reporters and mentor attend Beirut follow-up workshop

Syrian reporters and mentor attend Beirut follow-up workshop

The European Union-funded workshops are part of a program run by a BBC Media Action-led consortium covering 17 countries in the “European Neighbourhood.”

Abu-Fadil (left) with Peasgood (center rear) and Lebanese journalists

Abu-Fadil (left) with Peasgood (center rear) and Lebanese journalists

 

 

 

MU Director Joins TAKREEM Selection Board 2014

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil was tapped to join the TAKREEM Selection Board 2014 that chooses candidates for one of the Arab world’s most prestigious prizes.

Lebanese TV star and talk show host Ricardo Karam founded the TAKREEM Initiative and serves as its CEO.

Takreem founder and CEO Ricardo Karam

Takreem founder and CEO Ricardo Karam

The Selection Board met in Beirut in April 2014 ahead of a final gathering of TAKREEM’s Jury Board that includes internationally renowned figures from, and interested in, the Arab World.

All nominations are non-discriminatory and are accepted independent of age, gender, national origin, religion or political affiliation.

Candidates should be of Arab ancestry for all categories except for one, the award of exceptional international contribution to Arab Society.
Karam (seated) with Takreem's 2014 Selection Board members

Karam (seated) with Takreem’s 2014 Selection Board members

The Selection Board groups individuals from various professions, renowned for their distinctions and achievements, and their responsibility is to draw up a carefully considered short-list of candidates in each award category.

The categories are:

  1. Humanitarian and Civic Services
  2. Environmental Development and Sustainability
  3. Scientific and Technological Achievement
  4. Innovation in Education
  5. Cultural Excellence
  6. Arab Woman of the Year Award
  7. Young Entrepreneur Award
  8. Outstanding Corporate Leadership
  9. Exceptional International Contribution to Arab Society.
Abu-Fadil (far right) with Innovation in Education selection board members

Abu-Fadil (far right) with Innovation in Education selection board members

The 2014 TAKREEM laureates will be announced at a ceremony in November in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

 

@SocialMediasPACE Empowers Lebanese Netizens

A standing-room only hall of Lebanon-based netizens sharpened their skills, rubbed shoulders with experts and networked feverishly to expand their professional and online activist horizons.

Dubbed @SocialMediasPACE, a one-day fair in Beirut grouped activists, bloggers, journalists, Net newbies and geeks to “explore ways to leverage the power of digital technologies to foster civic engagement and social change.”

Lebanon-based netizens acquire online skills

Lebanon-based netizens acquire online skills

“Google showed me how little I knew about marketing and personal branding,” admitted radio and TV talk show host Milad Hadchiti, the event’s MC who doubles as a branding coach, about his early encounters with the search engine and social media.

An introduction by media specialist Nada Hamzeh of The Promoting Active Citizen Engagement (PACE) program funded by the US Agency for International Development USAID), focused on ways to activate NGOs and civil society groups by building strategies for their social media and creating partnerships between different actors.

“The goal of this three-year $8.3 million PACE project, is to strengthen civil society’s ability to create a stronger civic culture and more democratic governance throughout Lebanon,” said Denise O’Toole, director of the Education, Democracy & Governance at USAID/Lebanon. “So far, a number of initiatives have been launched and successfully implemented under PACE to empower local organizations to become catalysts for change on a variety of issues in their respective communities.”

USAID’s Denise O’Toole

USAID’s Denise O’Toole

A first panel on content, not tools, featured cyber advocacy expert Imad Bazzi (a/k/a Trella), IndyAct communications director Ali Fakhry, Kazamedia founder Ahmad Karout and Online Collaborative digital marketer Darine Sabbagh.

“We can use cyberspace to send out political messages,” said Bazzi, who with cohorts launched a teasing campaign dubbed “Laehat Abeeh Nafsi” (I Sell Myself List) with frivolous content ahead of planned legislative elections in Lebanon.

Screen shot of Imad Bazzi’s (Trella) home page

Screen shot of Imad Bazzi’s (Trella) home page

 Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil chaired a panel entitled “Alliances that pay off: Convergence between traditional and social media, civil society and marketing professionals.”

“We’ve gone from video cassette tapes to mobiles and with the development of social media it’s good to be in touch with the people,” said Tania Mehanna, senior reporter/correspondent at LBCI TV.

Other panelists were Omar Sadek, managing director at J. Walter Thompson, Patrick Richa, head of web and news services at MTV-Lebanon, and Riad Kobeissi, investigative journalist at Al Jadeed TV.

MU's Abu-Fadil chairs panel grouping Riad Kobeissi, Patrick Richa and Omar Sadek

MU’s Abu-Fadil chairs panel grouping Riad Kobeissi, Patrick Richa and Omar Sadek

According to Sadek, private companies are becoming more involved in corporate social responsibility and trying to mix profits with their role in society.

“Media firms need content to draw in audiences. The alliance between NGOs and media via marketing companies is attracting more attention and can lead to the public good,” he added.

Networking was paramount at the confab. The program included social media roundtables using free and open source software, online safety and privacy, and consultancy booths featuring crowdsourcing and multimedia platform management.

The event was covered extensively by Lebanese media (PDF).

Lebanese Journalists Trained to Cover Corruption Issues

Media are NGOs’ partners in the fight against corruption, experts told Lebanese journalists at a workshop in Beirut.

Media have played a key role in uncovering Arab leaders’ corruption, according to Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network’s Non-Governmental Group coordinator.

Dr. Azmi Shuaibi explains partnership between NGOs and media

Dr. Azmi Shuaibi explains partnership between NGOs and media

He addressed 10 journalists from print, broadcast and online media who attended the training as part of a conference organized by the UN Development Program (UNDP), ACIAC and the Lebanese Justice Ministry.

The April workshop also featured academic Khalil Gebara who asked rhetorically if there was a political will in Lebanon to fight corruption.

Journalists at anti-corruption workshop

Journalists at anti-corruption workshop

“Why aren’t corruption issues on the list of government priorities?” he said.

Dr. Khalil Gebara

Dr. Khalil Gebara

Lead trainer and Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil walked the journalists through the definitions of corruption and how media can play an increasingly important role as watchdogs in the post-Arab Spring environment.

She also briefed them on international standards of investigative journalism and their application to corruption in the Arab world.

Magda Abu-Fadil shows links between anti-corruption coverage and investigative journalism

Magda Abu-Fadil shows links between anti-corruption coverage and investigative journalism

Another key component is media ethics and its importance in reporting on corruption, she said.

Abu-Fadil also focused on the vital role played by social media and how best to utilize them.

Participants provided a list of recommendations, which UNDP’s Regional Communications Specialist Rut Gomez Sobrino hopes to translate into an action plan.

Lebanese journalists, Rut Gomez Sobrino and Abu-Fadil at anti-corruption workshop

Lebanese journalists, Rut Gomez Sobrino and Abu-Fadil at anti-corruption workshop

 

 

MU Trains Lebanese Journos to Cover Women’s Economic Empowerment

A series of countrywide workshops introduced Lebanese journalists to women’s economic empowerment in rural areas in a bid to improve media coverage of the often-neglected topic.

Magda Abu-Fadil with Tripoli journalists

Magda Abu-Fadil with Tripoli journalists

Print, online and broadcast journalists based in various regions of Lebanon learned how to define women’s economic empowerment, how to enter the terminology in their media lexicon and how to cover topics related to promoting gender equality.

Abu-Fadil with Bekaa-based journalists

Abu-Fadil with Bekaa-based journalists

MU director Magda Abu-Fadil conducted a series of mini-courses in the Bekaa Valley city of Zahle, the northern port city of Tripoli and the southern city of Tyre where reporters, correspondents, cameramen and photographers became better acquainted with agriculture-based cooperatives that help women become financially independent.

The sessions included knowledge about existing impediments to empowerment.

Abu-Fadil also discussed how advocacy through traditional and social media can enhance women’s economic empowerment, and reviewed case studies of successful initiatives.

The three two-day workshops in February and March organized by the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action (CRTDA) brought together reporters and civil society representatives from various towns and cities in Lebanon.

They followed an initial course aimed at journalists in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Abu-Fadil and CRTDA’s Hayat Mershad with Beirut journalists

Abu-Fadil and CRTDA’s Hayat Mershad with Beirut journalists

A session focused on women in the Lebanese economy, how gender equality translates into smart economics, and, how the CRTDA has helped rural women set up cooperatives and their economic impact.

Trainees in Tyre

Trainees in Tyre

Trainees were given examples of cooperatives in the country’s Bekaa, South and Akkar regions aimed at building women’s productive and leadership skills, facilitating their access to local and international markets and supporting participatory governance and leadership.

A session by journalist Saada Allaw featured results of a media audit on coverage of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality issues.

Saada Allaw shares media study results with Tyre journalists

Saada Allaw shares media study results with Tyre journalists

Participants were then tasked with writing a piece for publication in their respective media, which will be reviewed and edited on a third training day weeks after the initial workshop.

The best coverage from workshops across the country will be awarded and will be published on CRTDA’s website.

 

Journalists Learn to Communicate Women’s Economic Empowerment

Print and online journalists attending the first in a series of Lebanon-wide workshops on women’s economic empowerment learned about gender mainstreaming in the media, promoting equality, and reviewed case studies of successful initiatives.

Beirut-based reporters and civil society representatives attended a two-day course organized by the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action (CRTDA)  that tackled issues of women in the Lebanese economy, how gender equality translates into smart economics, and, rural women’s cooperatives and their economic impact.

Trainees at CRTDA's Beirut Workshop

Trainees at CRTDA’s Beirut Workshop

The CRTDA helped set up 36 rural cooperatives in the country’s Bekaa, South and Akkar regions aimed at building women’s productive and leadership skills, facilitating their access to local and international markets and supporting participatory governance and leadership.

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil mentored trainees on media challenges to reduce gender gaps, gender-sensitive indicators, and how to use gender-neutral language in their reporting.

A session dedicated to ethics walked them through the dos and don’ts of gender-based coverage and how to avoid reporting pitfalls.

Magda Abu-Fadil Explains Women's Economic Empowerment

Magda Abu-Fadil Explains Women’s Economic Empowerment

A final session by journalist Saada Allaw featured results of a media audit on coverage of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality issues.

Participants were then tasked with writing a piece for publication in their respective media, which will be reviewed and edited on a third training day weeks after the initial training.

The best coverage from workshops across the country will be awarded and will be published on CRTDA’s website.