MU Director Boosts LAU Marcom Team Skills

A two-day strategic communications workshop helped staffers at the Lebanese American University (LAU) beef up their writing and editing skills by thinking like journalists.

Good writing tips from Magda Abu-Fadil

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil put members of the Marketing and Communications (Marcom) team through the paces of researching, reporting, editing, visualizing and engaging through social media in August 2018 to boost the LAU brand across multiple platforms.

She created a newsroom environment simulating fieldwork that requires on-the-scene reporting, shooting pictures and videos, and interacting with newsmakers in their academic world.

LAU’s Marcom editorial team sharpen writing-editing skills

The intense sessions focused on what skills journalists need to operate in a digital-first environment where search engine and social media optimization can determine what news attracts the requisite attention.

The workshop examined the very essence of news and its sources, the key to writing strong leads, fine-tuning quotations, and using contextual details to bolster elements of a story.

Abu-Fadil dedicated a session to media ethics, the need to be mindful of proper sourcing, and how to avoid the dissemination of mis- or disinformation.

The power of headlines

Each session included exercises and quizzes to test participants’ grasp of the topics.

The Marcom staffers also learned how to hone their headline writing skills by using action verbs, word association, quotes from stories, substituting words with punctuation marks, ensuring the story title leads readers into the main text, and optimizing it for search engines and social media.

Abu-Fadil gave trainees a general knowledge quiz, cautioned them about oxymorons, and refreshed their memories on the importance of correct grammar and punctuation, with case studies of common errors as well as good writing examples.

Covering academic news like a professional journalist

Given Marcom’s mandate, participants also worked on the public relations aspect of communication by improving their writing of news releases and how best to pitch stories to various media.

The MU director helped the trainees better craft their coverage of speeches, meetings, and news conferences. She also provided tips on how to write solid feature stories.

The importance of accurate visuals in storytelling

LAU’s campuses in Beirut and Byblos provide an ample supply of events and people to highlight.

An important part of the training included mock TV interviews with staffers acting as reporter and interviewee while Abu-Fadil shot sequences that were later evaluated for strengths and weaknesses.

Trainees go through the paces of on-camera interviews

Equally vital is the use of visual elements like photos, videos, infographics, and illustrations. Trainees sharpened their caption-writing abilities and learned how to turn photo captions into mini-stories.

 

Media Unlimited Trains Gulf Journalists on Crises/Conflicts Coverage

Crises and conflicts – a topic all journalists should learn to cover since they inevitably encounter them in their work at some point.

Media Unlimited conducted a five-day workshop grouping reporters and editors from Kuwait and Oman on how to write about prickly issues such as sectarian strife; economic, political and social crises; and, unexpected events.

Participants from the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) and Oman News Agency (ONA) learned from case studies, viewed videos of unfolding crises, and wrote news and features on related topics.

KUNA business reporter Suleiman Rida writes on Kuwaiti finance minister’s resignation

They also acquired skills on the importance of integrating social media in their stories and using them as sources of information.

KUNA journalists watch video on covering demonstrations

Other topics included the need for online research, reliance on archives, establishing an extensive network of good sources and learning how to deal with them in a crisis.

ONA’s Taleb Al Riyami and Abdallah Alhajri tackle the link between poor education and unemployment in the Gulf

Equally important was focusing on how to operate in a hostile environment, accidents and shocks that adversely affect journalists, and coverage of traumatized victims of conflicts.

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil flanked by trainees in Kuwait

The participants also learned about proper coordination between editors and field reporters, newsroom dynamics, ethics while on crisis assignments, and how best to write and edit content for different multimedia platforms.

The workshop May 26-31, 2012 was held at the headquarters of the Kuwait News Agency.