On Becoming A Foreign Correspondent

Hard work, preparation, a solid contact database, a nose for news, courage and ethics go into shaping foreign correspondents whose tools of the trade may have changed in a multimedia world, but whose mission to inform remains the same.

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil provided 28 journalists and activists with tips on how to function as foreign correspondents and debunked myths about glamour and fame promoted in countless Hollywood movies.

Abu-Fadil on attribution and ground rules in different countries

Abu-Fadil on attribution and ground rules in different countries

The training in Morocco was part of the “Building a Digital Gateway to Better Lives” boot camp organized by the Washington-based International Center for Journalists.

It focused on cross-border and regional issues and involved investigative journalism team projects centered on child marriage, child labor, prostitution, human trafficking, prescription drugs on the black market, organized begging, cyber crimes, and illegal immigration.

Abu-Fadil presented examples of noted Arab and Western foreign correspondents, the beats they cover, working conditions, the costs and budgets required to maintain foreign bureaus and staffs, the transition to digital journalism, competition from citizen journalists, and the need to verify all data disseminated through social media and online sources.

Participants at Rabat boot camp

Participants at Rabat boot camp

She also stressed the importance of being multilingual, of being well versed in the history, geography, politics and social environment of the countries the correspondents cover, of the need to understand the economics and statistics of these countries, and how best to cover news conferences and interviews with foreign officials.

Abu-Fadil shows difference between Anglo and French numerals

Abu-Fadil shows difference between Anglo and French numerals

Abu-Fadil touched on first aid, security and safety measures reporters on foreign assignment should learn, which veteran Egyptian journalist Abeer Saady later tackled in depth.

Abeer Saady's safety tips on taxis

Abeer Saady’s safety tips on taxis

Also on hand was Moroccan IT expert Rachid Jankari to discuss mobile phones and cloud computing for use by journalists.

Rachid Jankari on mobile phones and cloud computing

Rachid Jankari on mobile phones and cloud computing

Senior strategist at National Public Radio, self-described real-time informational DJ and occasional journalist Andy Carvin also guided participants in the uses of social media to cover regional issues.

Rabat boot camp trainers and participants

Rabat boot camp trainers and participants

The September boot camp in the Moroccan capital Rabat grouped participants from Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan and Algeria.

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

 

 

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.

 

 

Dubai Press Club Google Hangout Reviews Arab Journalism Award

Seven journalism aficionados rounded up 2012 events with a Google Hangout session to review the Arab Journalism Award’s (AJA) development and impact.

AJA judges and recipients discussed the Arabic language as a standard for evaluating published materials, the importance of keeping up with technological advances, and the evolution of social and digital media as inseparable parts of journalism ahead of the award’s 12th run in May 2013.

The virtual meeting dubbed “Journey to Honor Creativity” was chaired December 30 by the AJA’s manager Muna Busamra to feature the award’s growing importance in the Arab world and its effect on the region’s journalists.

Arab Journalism Award manager Muna Busamra

Participants included Saudi media researcher Fahed Al Harithi, Saudi journalist Nahed Bashatah (one of the first women to be honored), Egyptian journalist/recipient Ali Zalat, Egyptian journalist/recipient Walaa Nabil, Emirati journalist/recipient Mohammad Aljoker, and Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil.

Abu-Fadil, a former board member and panel judge of the AJA, was instrumental in introducing investigative and online journalism categories to the award.

MU director reviews AJA merits

She also stressed the importance of regular training for journalists to ensure their skills remain up to par in a fast-changing media landscape.

The Arab Journalism Award is administered by the Dubai Press Club under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashed Al Maktoum. Prizes are traditionally awarded at the end of the annual Arab Media Forum in Dubai.

 

Lebanese Students Taste Investigative Journalism

Twenty-one students got an introduction to investigative journalism and its role in enhancing citizenship at a workshop in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli.

The one-day training involved definitions of investigative journalism, duties and responsibilities of investigative journalists, and how to become reporters covering that beat.

MU director with AUT, LCAC officials and students

Participants were also briefed on how to dig for information, ideas that could be developed into investigative reporting projects, computer-assisted research and reporting (a/k/a data-driven journalism), and skills to evaluate documents and figures.

A final session was dedicated to interviewing techniques and media ethics.

The workshop in November 2012 was conducted by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil and organized by the Lebanese Center for Active Citizenship as part of the latter’s “Our Right to Know” campaign.

Abu-Fadil explains fine points of investigative journalism

The students hailed mainly from the American University of Technology’s  Tripoli and Halat campuses. A lawyer/student and a reporter from Beirut also joined the group.

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.