Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide Launch Covered

Lebanese print, broadcast and online media covered presentation of an Arabic-language ethics booklet aimed at netizens in the Middle East/North Africa region.

Maharat coverage

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil launched the Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide at a conference in Lebanon in a bid to create awareness about digital freedom and responsibility.

Abu-Fadil edited the guide which journalist/educator Rouba El Helou translated from a similar booklet produced by Andrea Gallo, a student at Louisiana State University.

Annahar article [PDF]

Maharat article [PDF]

Abu-Fadil Launches Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide at MSF14

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil launched the Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide at a conference in Lebanon aimed at creating awareness about digital freedom and responsibility.

Charbel El Kareh listens as Abu-Fadil launches the guide

Charbel El Kareh listens as Abu-Fadil launches the guide

She presented the guide at the Media Studies Forum MSF14 at Lebanon’s Notre Dame University (NDU) which faculty member/journalist Rouba El Helou translated from a similar booklet edited by Andrea Gallo, a student at Louisiana State University.

Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide

Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide

It was well timed in May 2014 with the forum’s theme, “Ethics of Digital Media and Online Knowledge Production.”

Abu-Fadil raised issues like misattribution of sources, manipulation of visual content and accepting gifts during a panel entitled “Online Media Freedom and Ethics.”

Abu-Fadil and El-Helou at MSF14

Abu-Fadil and El Helou at MSF14

She showed a report that was the top story on a Lebanese TV newscast of a woman committing suicide by jumping off a balcony while her husband filmed it on his mobile phone to jolt the forum’s audience and sensitize participating students to what is and isn’t acceptable.

Since videos and photos can easily be manipulated, Abu-Fadil made a point of demonstrating how Tungstène, the fake photo finder used by Agence France-Presse, and other software can detect inaccurate visual data.

The Verification Handbook was another excellent resource to which she referred.

Screen shot of Verification Handbook

Abu-Fadil pointed to the dangers of “remixing,” what the code of best practice for fair use is, and what the School of Communication at her alma mater, American University in Washington, DC, did to explain it in a very handy video.

MU Presents Arabic Online Media Ethics Guide

A tweet promoting the “First-Ever Guide to Online Media Ethics” [PDF] led Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil to seek out its author in a bid to disseminate it to journalists, bloggers, trainees and students across the Arab World.

Cover

The announcement by Andrea Gallo, a Louisiana State University (LSU) student on the birth of her publication, prompted Abu-Fadil to obtain the booklet and oversee its translation into Arabic.

Various organizations have published online media ethics guidelines but few have made the effort to disseminate them in an easy-to-use Arabic-language compendium.

Rouba El-Helou, a media studies faculty member and journalist, translated the text into Arabic and Abu-Fadil edited the booklet [PDF].

Print

The guide is well thought out and its sections cover news judgment and conflicts, transparency, sourcing ethics, knowing your audience, plagiarism, when problems arise, photos and art, and social media.

Governments, notably in the Arab World, have increasingly slapped on penalties or sentences on producers of online content they deem offensive, and have equated such content with that of print publications.

In other countries officials have begun to deal with the issue through restrictive legislation such as requiring online media to obtain a license to operate, leading to a whole set of ethical problems.

The booklet is an annual project for LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication students.

Dean Jerry Ceppos, who teaches an undergraduate course called “Media Ethics and Social Responsibility” (MC 4090), assigns his charges production of this invaluable resource.

“The Endless Battle on Corruption in Media”

Lebanese journalists face hardships in accessing information, with legal checks and outside pressures barring them from conducting proper investigations into corruption, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil said.

“Laws often trip up journalists as their interpretation or misapplication hamper serious investigations and the uncovering of wrongdoing,” she told the International Anti-Corruption Academy’s “IACAlumnus” magazine.

1IACAlumnus_Issue 2_2014-1

But, she noted, that if a dedicated journalist is intent on covering corruption issues, he/she can do so at his/her own peril.

“The Endless Battle on Corruption in Media,” an article in the magazine by Rouba El Helou, focuses on issues like the mixture of politics, religion and economics that lead to corruption in media and undermine journalists.

“Revealing the truth in corruption stories helps protect citizens from further harm, sets a good example as to what ethical behavior ought to be, and acts as a deterrent to potential criminals,” Abu-Fadil said.