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.

Tripoli Trainees Jump on Citizen Journalism Bandwagon

Fourteen trainees learned how to become citizen journalists while maintaining professional and ethical standards during a workshop organized by the Lebanese Center for Active Citizenship.

The training in December 2012, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, touched on the evolution of modern journalism and how it gave rise to the form today practiced by ordinary citizens.

The Importance of Twitter in citizen journalism

Trainees acquired skills to help with effective coverage of events, through live blogging and vlogging, geographic positioning, and the importance of social media in instant dissemination of news.

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil conducted the short course in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli that grouped 12 mass communication students from Al Jinan University and two social activists.

Magda Abu-Fadil with LCAC officials and trainees

Abu-Fadil advised the participants to keep their content short and clear, to use active verbs, to make sure their headlines are relevant and attractive, and, to use key words for easy search engine optimization.

She also stressed the importance of good visuals like photos and videos as well as infographics and simple language.

The attraction of photos and captions

Participants also discussed media standards and ethics with Abu-Fadil reminding them to be accurate, balanced, transparent, truthful, and not to lose sight of context.

Abu-Fadil on “Hewar Al Arab”: Twitter is key

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil urged critics to reconsider their reluctance to use Twitter and better engage audiences through this social medium, given its growing importance in the Arab world.

She argued in favor of young tweeps and journalists, despite misuses of the platform, adding that Twitter had become a source of news and information that should not be ignored.

Magda Abu-Fadil on "Hewar Al Arab"

Abu-Fadil noted Arab journalists’ increased use of Twitter in the last couple of years but said they were still hesitant to capitalize on it as a news resource.

She said international news organizations had initiated codes of conduct for social media uses in addition to their traditional media guidelines for good journalistic practice.

Her views were aired on Al Arabiya satellite channel’s show “Hewar Al Arab” in an episode dedicated to “Twitter Communities.”

The program, hosted by Muntaha Al Ramahi, grouped tweeps Abdallah Shaalan and Moulouk Al Sheikh as well as academic Sadek Al Hamami.