Arab Media Need Work on Professionalism, Ethics: Abu-Fadil

Arab media have made progress but some still need work to overcome issues of journalistic professionalism and ethics, Magda Abu-Fadil told Dubai TV in May 2015.

“We see too many examples of unethical behavior in broadcast outlets, online and in print,” the Media Unlimited director said during an interview at the Arab Media Forum.

Magda Abu-Fadil interviewed by Dubai TV

Magda Abu-Fadil interviewed by Dubai TV

Given the highly charged environment in several Arab countries, media have been reflecting the political and sectarian splits by fanning the flames through sedition, unsubstantiated news reporting and slander, she added.

She also noted that schools of communication and journalism should do a better job of equipping their students for the ever-changing job market by providing them with flexible skills and not just focus primarily on outdated theories or research that have little practical application.

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.

 

 

MU Director to Arab Strategy Forum: Social Media Aren’t Just for Kids

Catch the wave and ride it, don’t sink under it, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told participants at the Arab Strategy Forum 2013 in Dubai.

Arab Strategy Forum 2013 logo

Arab Strategy Forum 2013 logo

“We can’t operate in the media with a Stone Age mentality,” she insisted. “Social media aren’t just for kids.”

To prove the point and debunk traditionalists’ thinking, she spoke, tweeted and shot video during her session on the relationship between Arab media and social networks.

Abu-Fadil speaks, tweets and shoots video at ASF 2013

Abu-Fadil speaks, tweets and shoots video at ASF 2013

She also said there was a lot of useful information online.

But equally important is the ability to use critical thinking to filter through all the disinformation and misleading content, she added.

Arab media and social networks panel

Arab media and social networks panel

The forum, organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), grouped experts from across the Arab world and United States who discussed social networks and knowledge society.

MBRF CEO Sultan Ali Lootah opens ASF 2013

MBRF CEO Sultan Ali Lootah opens ASF 2013

They included Charbel Fakhoury, Microsoft’s vice president for sales and marketing in the Middle East, Mohamed Murad from Google Gulf, Kaveh Gharib from Twitter’s U.S. headquarters and Jonathan Labin from Facebook’s Middle East and Africa arm.

Dubai TV's Zeina Yazigi (right) chairs "Evolution of Social Networks" session

Dubai TV’s Zeina Yazigi (right) chairs “Evolution of Social Networks” session

Also on hand for the two-day forum in March 2013 were Saudi bloggers Molook Al Sheikh and Abdel Aziz Al Shaalan, Bahraini TV host Khaled Al Shaer, and Kuwaiti columnist Meshal Al Nami.

Emirati speakers filled the “Tweet Positively” panel that concentrated on religious aspects and positive values in uses of social networks, as well as individuals’ roles in protecting their nation from harmful media, and how to use Twitter for good causes.

Media covered the event extensively. [“المرأة العربية أكثر نساء العالم تفاعلا على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي – النيلين”] [“موقع جريدة الأنباء – طباعة مقالة”] [دار الخليــــج-أخبار الدار-“المنتدى الاستراتيجي” يحذر الإعلام من عدم مواكبة “شبكات التواصل””]

Accuracy key to good journalism: Abu-Fadil

Getting it right topped the list of tips Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil offered journalists at Al Arabiya’s English website during an informal chat in Dubai.

Magda Abu-Fadil addresses Al Arabiya’s English website team

Magda Abu-Fadil addresses Al Arabiya’s English website team

Abu-Fadil said elementary rules like spelling people’s names correctly and ensuring their titles were precise should not be overlooked since they were the corner stones of good reporting.

She also cautioned participants, several of whom she trained in October 2012, not to rush and publish information before verifying it from multiple sources, noting that rumors and other questionable news and visuals filled the Internet, leading to many a journalist’s downfall.

Abu-Fadil recounted some of her adventures as a foreign correspondent and editor and how she had transitioned from being a traditional journalist to a blogger and media trainer.

Abu-Fadil with Al Arabiya English website editor in chief Faisal Abbas

Abu-Fadil with Al Arabiya English website editor in chief Faisal Abbas

The event dubbed “Accuracy: How it could make us, or break us,” was part of an Al Arabiya English website General Assembly in March 2013.

That’s Entertainment! Training Journalists Covering the Industry

How can one train journalists in coverage of the entertainment industry?

It’s not just television, radio, the movies and awards shows, but also the performing arts, the lucrative gaming business, health matters, and sometimes sports issues that define entertainment.

Producing entertainment content at MBC's online Dubai newsroom

Producing entertainment content at MBC’s online Dubai newsroom

Add “infotainment” and “edutainment,” and one has a vast world of news, views, statistics, and countless forms of visual representation to produce and deliver to any number of recipients across multiple mobile platforms.

So juggling news gathering, curation, production and packaging into the right online channels and interacting with one’s audiences via social media to keep the dynamic conversation going requires special talents, skills and a wide base of general knowledge.

Enter Media Unlimited’s Magda Abu-Fadil who worked with a team of very capable and professional entertainment journalists at the MBC Group’s online newsroom in Dubai to sharpen their skills and tweak their copy.

MBC-Al Arabiya building in Dubai

MBC-Al Arabiya building in Dubai

The March 2013 workshop focused on identifying entertainment journalism, tools of the trade, story structure, the art of writing entertainment news, breaking news and features.

The brief course dealt with widening the information base, working with archives, using background data and integrating strong visual elements in all stories.

Not to be overlooked was a dose of media ethics, notably in a field rife with rumors and innuendo.

Magda Abu-Fadil with new MBC friends

Magda Abu-Fadil with new MBC friends

The team also learned about interviewing techniques when dealing with celebrities, speeches, news conferences and the use of social media to collect and promote entertainment news.

MU Leads UAE Investigative Journalism Training

Over 50 UAE-based journalists feel better equipped to tackle investigative assignments after two intensive courses conducted by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil.

“As a general introduction to investigative journalism, procedures and information, it was suitable, but for implementation, one needs more time, which we hope to get (in the future),” said one of the participants.

Abu Dhabi Investigative Journalism Group

It was an eye opener for reporters and editors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, who attended workshops in November 2012 aimed at sharpening their skills in what is known as data-driven journalism.

The workshop focused on ethics in investigative journalism, ideas for topics to cover, digging for information, use of documents and numbers, and, computer-assisted reporting.

Abu-Fadil explains investigative reporting elements in Abu Dhabi

Reporters and editors from various newspapers and media-related fields attending the  course also learned how to combine text with visuals and how to incorporate social media in their projects.

Abu-Fadil in Dubai describes blogs' uses in investigative journalism

The training was organized courtesy of the UAE Journalists Association, the U.S. Embassy in the UAE and the telecommunications company Etisalat.

Dubai Investigative Journalism Workshop Trainer & Trainees

“I benefited on a personal and professional level from this workshop that will have an impact on my work,” said Mohammad Abdel Rasheed from the daily Al Bayan.

Both groups viewed the Watergate scandal classic “All the President’s Men” starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman to get a taste of old-fashioned investigative reporting techniques.

MU Beefs Up Al Arabiya English Journalists’ Abilities

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil drilled four members of  Al Arabiya’s English website team in journalism basics, components of news stories and tested their general knowledge in politics, geography, history and mathematics.

Exercises included strengthening story leads, avoidance of redundancies, aversion to oxymorons, and common errors journalists make when writing English copy.

Magda Abu-Fadil and Al Arabiya English website team

She conducted the four-day course in intensive journalism for select members of the satellite news channel  at their Dubai headquarters.

The budding journalists learned about setting news priorities by understanding newsworthiness and how to categorize stories in their daily lineups.

Members of Al Arabiya English web team

They also picked up tips on good feature, long story and series writing, as well as efficient ways of digging for information using traditional and online resources.

Abu-Fadil reinforced their ability to find, cultivate and use sources for their stories and how to measure the sources’ credibility.

Profiles, news conferences, speeches, meetings and interviews were part of the October 2012 workshop, as was beat reporting and editorializing.

The journalists were also urged not to overlook media ethics and to engage their audiences more actively through social media.

Anba Moscow/Ria Novosti Journalists Upgrade Agency Online Skills

Seven journalists at Anba Moscow’s Dubai bureau underwent intensive training to upgrade their skills for the website maintained in Arabic by the Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

The journalists, who come from diverse backgrounds, attended a five-day workshop in October 2012 conducted by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil on the needs of an international news agency, evolution of the media, and story structure in an online environment.

Anba Moscow trainees upgrade news agency online skills

Also on the agenda was the importance of solid headlines and leads, sources, types of wire stories and integration of social media into the mix for better audience engagement.

Magda Abu-Fadil with Anba Moscow team in Dubai

Abu-Fadil reminded the journalists of the need to maintain high ethical standards in their coverage.

They were provided tips on crises, sudden events, fieldwork, means of communication, safety measures and coordination between correspondents and their newsrooms.

Not to be overlooked, the Anba Moscow team was encouraged to make good use of infographics, photos, videos and audio clips, and develop interest in multimedia.

MU Empowers UAE WAM Journalists With New Skills

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil spent two weeks in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, respectively, with journalists of the United Arab Emirates’ WAM news agency to help them upgrade their skills

The training included best practices for news agencies, the integration of social media and the importance of media ethics.

The first week of workshops in September 2012 was at WAM headquarters and involved morning sessions with one group from the Arabic desk, with mentoring in the afternoon inside the newsrooms of the Arabic and English desks.

WAM workshop opening in Abu Dhabi with U.S. Ambassador Michael Corbin

The second week grouped journalists from the other emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Al Ain, Ajman, Fujairah and Um Al Qaiwain.

The U.S. Embassy in the UAE and the Emirates’ National Media Council (NMC) organized the workshops which were opened in Abu Dhabi by Ambassador Michael Corbin and NMC Director General Ibrahim Al Abed.