Abu-Fadil Provides Palestinian Diplomats With Media Skills

Ten young Palestinian diplomats sharpened their media skills in Turin, Italy, as part of a program to prepare them for the rigors of public diplomacy and exposure to the world.

The group of eager men and women attended a weeklong workshop conducted in July 2016 by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil and media expert Abdelhamid Siyam at the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) training center there.

Abdelhamid Siyam and Magda Abu-Fadil on fine points of public diplomacy

Abdelhamid Siyam and Magda Abu-Fadil on fine points of public diplomacy

Abu-Fadil’s input began with concentrated sessions on how to think and act like a journalist.

That meant understanding the rapid and major changes media and journalists have to undergo as well as the added pressures Palestinians face on their home turf, where (among other things) mobility is regularly hampered by the Israeli occupation, and abroad, where they have to compete for attention with other pressing world issues.

The diplomats were also briefed on how newsrooms and journalists have to contend with a multimedia digital ecosystem as users of countless apps and social media often outpace traditional news outlets.

Palestinian diplomats hone media skills in Turin

Palestinian diplomats hone media skills in Turin

Abu-Fadil helped them define news, news values, the impact of information they disseminate, controversy, notoriety, sources, and how to write for different media, not just their superiors and other government officials.

A major part of one session was dedicated to media ethics and the trainees were told about verification and credibility of sources, notably in conflict zones, how to minimize the risk of misinforming audiences and how to mitigate the impact of hate speech.

Siyam offers pointers on TV interviews

Siyam offers pointers on TV interviews

Abu-Fadil and Siyam walked the diplomats through interview skills and how diplomats can improve their performance on the air, in print, and in online media.

That meant the proper planning and execution of the before, during, and after parts of interviews, and the subsequent assessment of one’s performance for improved future delivery of a message or project.

Simulations and mock interviews were part of the practical work in the workshop. Siyam was the interviewer and Abu-Fadil was the camerawoman/producer.

Other sessions involved writing skills, special focus on media in the Arab world, dealing with reputation issues, and social media for diplomacy.

Journalists Need Digital Skills and Traditional Grounding: Abu-Fadil

Today’s journalists are expected to have multimedia digital skills but must also abide by the principles of accuracy, fairness, balance, humanity and ethics, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told French magazine Défense.

“Today’s journalists are required to do more because of the available technology, because of budget cutbacks, and because of the 24/7 news cycle,” she said, adding that in the old days jobs were clearly defined – there was the reporter and there was the photographer or video cameraman/woman.

Interview with Abu-Fadil in Défense magazine.

Interview with Abu-Fadil in Défense magazine. 

There’s a crisis of confidence in both traditional and other media due to a lack of professionalism by many journalists as well as the political and economic pressures they face, Abu-Fadil noted in the March/April 2016 issue of the publication.

Citizen journalists – ordinary people with mobile devices like smartphones – are often the first on the scene of a disaster or event and transmit their content like photos, videos, texts – immediately through social media before traditional journalists can cover what is happening.

So it’s imperative for journalists to be able to interact with their audiences through social media and to produce high quality content using mobile devices to get the message out in a timely fashion across different platforms, she said.

The complete interview is available here [PDF].

MU Director Lectures/Trains on Social Media, Ethical Implications

How credible are social media, are they reliable sources of information, and should journalists use them for their coverage?

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil raised these three and other pertinent questions in an address to mass communications students and faculty members at Qatar University in October.

Magda Abu-Fadil lectures on social media and ethics at Qatar University

Magda Abu-Fadil lectures on social media and ethics at Qatar University

Abu-Fadil touched on how legacy media are increasingly using tips and reports disseminated through social media in conflict zones and in light of widespread terrorism but that verification remained a major challenge.

QU's Mass Communications Director Dr. Mahmoud Galandar with Abu-Fadil

QU’s Mass Communications Director Dr. Mahmoud Galandar with Abu-Fadil

She used case studies from coverage of demonstrations in Lebanon and how the media interpreted the civil society and rioters’ presence in the streets during a lecture entitled “Rise of Social Media on the Media Landscape: Impact on Media Ethics.” 

Skills digital journalist needs

Skills digital journalist needs

Abu-Fadil also tracked the evolution of social media and their incorporation into integrated multimedia news operations serving consumers across various platforms using mostly mobile digital devices.

She stressed the need for critical thinking to deconstruct social media messages and posts and understand what positive and negative impact they have on recipients.

Abu-Fadil with Qatar University students

Abu-Fadil with Qatar University students

On a second day, Abu-Fadil conducted a workshop for QU students on the use of social media and online journalism, notably the ubiquity of mobile journalists (mojos).

Social media and online journalism workshop at QU

Social media and online journalism workshop at QU

The workshop included a general knowledge test for the students as well as tips on how to verify online data, and case studies of unethical media behavior online.

Lebanese Freelance Journalists Hanging by a Thread: Abu-Fadil

Freelance journalists, notably in Lebanon, face countless difficulties, not least of which are steady assignments, benefits and proper protection in conflict zones.

“Print, broadcast, online and multimedia news organizations in Lebanon are cutting down on field crews for various reasons, notably economic shrinkage and reduced administrative budgets, in addition to political pressures making freelancers more attractive and cheaper than their full-time counterparts,” said Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil.

Old fashioned freelancer

Old fashioned freelancer

Media prefer such an arrangement to avoid paying social security, transportation expenses, medical costs, education benefits, life insurance and end-of-service indemnities, she told Al Modon.

As media increasingly employ contractual reporters, photojournalists and multimedia journalists to cover events, there are a growing number of journalism school graduates every year facing a tight job market and low salaries.

Here is a [PDF] of the article.

MU Media Literacy Features at I.C. Workshop

Should parents or nursery school teachers use an iPad as a pacifier to ease a toddler into school or a playgroup?

How do schools integrate technology, social media and other forms of engagement in their curricula?

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil answered those and other questions at a workshop on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) for schoolteachers at Lebanon’s International College Ain Aar campus.

Abu-Fadil shows video on how iPads affect children

Abu-Fadil shows video on how iPads affect children

She drew on UNESCO’s MIL Curriculum for Teachers that combines two distinct areas – media literacy and information literacy – under one umbrella.

Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers

Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers

Abu-Fadil underscored the importance of digital literacy and deconstructed it during the workshop in May 2014 using case studies and videos to illustrate the point.

She reviewed key competencies needed for MIL such as knowledge and understanding of media and information for democratic discourses and social participation, evaluation of media texts and information sources, and, production and use of media and information.

Teachers at IC's Ain Aar campus learn about media literacy

Teachers at IC’s Ain Aar campus learn about media literacy

The training also centered on how to engage with students in a multimedia environment and across various platforms.

Abu-Fadil demonstrated how social media tools such as Twitter have become an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

MU director conducts workshop on media and information literacy at Lebanon's International College

MU director conducts workshop on media and information literacy at Lebanon’s International College

The discussion also touched on accessing information in an effective and affective way, the importance of critical thinking, and methods of evaluating media-related information.

MU Director at Digital Boot Camp: Media Laws & Ethics Are Key

Digital skills for journalists and activists are required for success in today’s world, but a key component is knowledge of media laws and ethics to protect oneself and avoid problems.

Amr Eleraqi shows journalists, activists how to use interactive tools

Amr Eleraqi shows journalists, activists how to use interactive tools

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil provided tips and reviewed legislation from countries represented by journalists and activists who attended the “Building a Digital Gateway to Better Lives” boot camp in Amman, Jordan.

Abu-Fadil provided a tour d’horizon of current and proposed legislation affecting print, broadcast and online media in the participants’ home countries.

Print and online media laws in Jordan explained

Print and online media laws in Jordan explained

She underlined common problems like various forms of censorship, harsh licensing procedures, penalties and legislators’ lack of understanding of what and who journalists are in the 21st Century.

Another crucial issue in the multimedia world is ethics for bloggers and what defines ethical behavior is an otherwise fluid landscape where platforms and tools converge.

Abu-Fadil showed jarring footage disseminated via social media of what she said was unethical conduct and complemented it with case studies of how traditional media handled, or mishandled, news coverage.

Trainees engaged in animated discussions on what constitutes ethics, how to define privacy, whether doctored or misleading photos and videos should be published, sourcing and attribution ground rules, and, a host of issues plaguing bloggers.

Abu-Fadil explains nuances of sourcing ground rules

Abu-Fadil explains nuances of sourcing ground rules

Other trainers at the five-day boot camp helped participants with live coverage for events, using interactive tools to enhance websites, creative storytelling with video, advanced safety for journalists, and building an effective presence on social media.

Veteran Egyptian journalist Abeer Saady's advice on personal safety

Veteran Egyptian journalist Abeer Saady’s advice on personal safety

The training, held at the Jordan Media Institute, was organized by the Washington-based International Center for Journalists in August 2013 and grouped participants from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco and Iraq.

MENA Journalism Teaching & Training Need Professional Boost

Journalism education and training in the MENA region need a shot in the arm to ensure graduates and practitioners attain and maintain professional standards, students at the University of Wollongong in Dubai were told.

“Journalists are like emergency room doctors,” Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil said, addressing a joint class of postgraduate students in the Master of Media and Communications and Master of International Studies programs in October 2012.

They treat and save (news) patients, work on tight deadlines, can’t afford to make mistakes, and if they do, the results could be catastrophic, she explained.

Magda Abu-Fadil addresses master classes at University of Wollongong in Dubai

Abu-Fadil said there was often a “disconnect” between what is taught and what the journalism market needs, given the fast-changing landscape, globalized nature of the industry, and introduction of digital technologies in all facets of the profession.

On the academic front, Abu-Fadil noted the lack of up-to-date courses, newsrooms and regular student on-campus newspapers, radio and/or TV stations and websites in most Arab countries.

“The introduction of online journalism courses has been very slow,” she noted, adding that she had co-authored the UNESCO-sponsored book “Model Curricula for Journalism Education” as a template for developing countries, which is available in nine languages.

She lamented the lack of attention to the learning of languages, geography and history, notably for journalists choosing careers as foreign correspondents, and said traditional Arab curricula do not encourage critical thinking.

On another front, Abu-Fadil advised the students not to be satisfied with their degrees but to seek regular training to upgrade and update their knowledge and skills.

She underlined the importance of ethical media practices, attention to detail, inclusion of context in all stories, and, the importance of integrating multimedia and social media in their coverage.

 

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.

KUNA Journalists Learn How to Become Foreign Correspondents

Six Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) journalists were plunged into an intensive workshop on how to become foreign correspondents, including risks involved, news priorities, the organization and management of foreign bureaus, and how to tie their overseas coverage to local events.

KUNA's future foreign correspondents

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil conducted the five-day course in October 2012 at KUNA headquarters in Kuwait during which participants also learned about the importance of being multimedia reporters able to handle photography and video journalism.

Not to be overlooked are social media that should be incorporated into the mix, Abu-Fadil told her charges, to secure greater audience engagement.

Magda Abu-Fadil with KUNA trainees in Kuwait

The reporters were also briefed on how to build their list of foreign contacts, databases, equipment needed for assignments, communication gear, sources, safety measures during crises and attempts to censor them by foreign governments.

They learned the key to a smooth operation is good coordination between the correspondents and bureaus, and, the newsroom.