Abu-Fadil Trains Journalists for Saudi Daily

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil put eight young journalists for a Saudi Arabian daily through the paces of reporting, writing and editing as part of a an intensive workshop to upgrade their skills and catapult them to the next level.

The training in Dubai in August 2019 involved exercises based on presentations and discussions that “seasoned” writers sometimes take for granted: leads, headlines, photo captions, grammar, punctuation, story components and structure, to say nothing of contextual background information like history, geography, numbers and visuals.

Saudi newspaper journalists hone their skills

The materials included relevant videos, assignments, tools, online research and news tests.

A key session focused on media ethics, notably in today’s world of alternative facts, disinformation, deep fakes and artificial intelligence-generated news.

Other sessions concentrated on interviewing techniques, the AP style guide, long considered the industry standard, as well as coverage of speeches, meetings and news conferences.

 

During the long afternoon sessions, she helped the trainees sharpen their writing proficiency with a mix of topics including housing problems, oil spills and their environmental impact, and the hospitality industry.

One afternoon was dedicated to visiting Bloomberg’s Dubai hub for a briefing on the newsgathering and editing operation, including automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

Riad Hamade and Nayla Razzouk explain workings of Bloomberg’s Dubai TV studio

Riad Hamade, executive editor for the Middle East and North Africa at Bloomberg News, gave them a rundown on his organization’s workings.

Hamade, along with Nayla Razzouk, Bloomberg News Team Leader for Energy and Commodities in the Middle East & North Africa, and Claudia Maedler, the Gulf bureau chief (excluding Saudi Arabia), took the group on a tour of the very impressive newsroom and TV studio.

MU Director Trains Arab Media on Migration Coverage

Don’t take migration issues lightly, do proper research, never assume, avoid hate speech, stick to the facts, use visuals ethically and tell a good story.

That’s some of the advice Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil gave journalists at a three-day workshop in Tunis in September 2018 organized by the Open Media Hub, a European Union-funded initiative administered by the Thomson Foundation.

 

Magda Abu-Fadil explains the ethics of shooting photos and videos of migrants and refugees

The production-led training grouped print, radio, TV, online and multimedia journalists from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Syria and provided them with tools aimed at improving their reporting on migration.

Cameraman/editor David Hands, senior media training and exchange expert at the Media Hub Project Petko Georgiev and Abu-Fadil were the instructors.

Migration and media – a complex topic to cover

They aimed to reinforce the journalists’ knowledge and abilities to help them achieve balance in their stories and provide unbiased public perception of migration.

Participants were asked earlier to submit a pitch for the story they intended to finalize during the workshop sessions.

Petko Georgiev, senior media training and exchange expert at Media Hub Project and cameraman/editor David Hands

The stories will be broadcast/published in their respective news outlets and made available on the Open Media Hub’s platform and website, for exchange between participants locally and internationally.

The workshop was built on a text Abu-Fadil wrote, “Migration and Media: A Journalist’s Handbook” – a cooperative project of the Open Media Hub, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), and Euromed Migration with funding from the EU – that will be available online in English, Arabic and French.

Migration and Media: A Journalist’s Handbook

The handbook was also turned into an OMH online course in the three languages.

 

The importance of visuals in media coverage

The objective was to ensure journalists have a basic firm understanding of the complex issues of migration, refugees, and human trafficking and their impact on the politics, economics, demographics, environment, security, education and cultures of affected countries and beyond.

The trainers spent half the workshop mentoring their charges by helping them fine-tune proposals to produce viable reports and provided useful technical tips on video and audio production.

 

Mentoring journalists on how best to cover the topic

Another hitch is the lack of adequate resources and support from news organizations, so the Open Media Hub has stepped in to help defray the cost of travel and local coverage to journalists pitching credible stories that may then qualify for the EU-funded Migration Media Award (MMA). 

 

EU Ambassador to Tunisia Patrice Bergamini at the Migration Media Award

Several of the workshop participants were winners of the 2018 MMA in its second edition and hope to secure financial backing for follow-up stories.

As a member of the jury for Arabic-language media, Abu-Fadil presented the first prize in print to Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Mustafa whose story “Europe is Not Paradise” was published in the daily Al Akhbar.

 

Abu-Fadil handing Arabic Migration Media Award first prize in print

The MMA for print, radio, TV and multimedia stories in Arabic, English and French was launched in 2017 to recognize excellence, relevance and newsworthiness of journalistic pieces dealing with migration in all its aspects in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

 

End of a successful workshop

This year’s awards focused on diaspora, labor migration, vulnerable groups, and legal and irregular migration.

Abu-Fadil Raises Media Ethics Issues at COPEAM 2017 Confab

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told a Beirut conference the issue of fake news may cause extensive damage and provided examples of how Photoshopped pictures and distorted videos go viral on social media.

RAI President Monica Maggioni, Anna Lindh Foundation Executive Director Hatem Atallah, Media Unlimited Director Magda Abu-Fadil and AFP video journalist Will Vassilopoulos

“Professionalism and media ethics equal a winning equation in the 21st Century,” she said at the “Mediterranean Storytelling: Complexities, Media Response and Public Opinion” event, adding that today’s wars and crises are defined as social media and fabricated news conflicts.

Abu-Fadil was speaking at the at the 24th Annual Conference and 23rd General Assembly of COPEAM, the Permanent Conference of Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators in Beirut, Lebanon, in May 2017.

She joined experts seeking solutions to coverage of complex issues, notably migration, terrorism, fake news, their impact, and audience behavior.

COPEAM is a non-profit association devoted to the promotion of dialogue and cultural integration in the Mediterranean region through the involvement of the audiovisual sector’s major players.

 

COPEAM conferees discuss their roles and responsibilities

These include public service radio and TV broadcasters of 26 countries, as well as professional and cultural associations, higher education institutions, and, independent producers and local authorities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Rome-based COPEAM groups 60 members. It acts on a multilateral cooperation formula aimed at enhancing and exchanging expertise within its network.

MU Director on Female Internet Radicalization at UNESCO Quebec Meet

Why do young people, including girls and women, turn radical and what role does the Internet play in their radicalization?

A question Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil tried to answer in the workshop “Gender Perspectives and the Process of Radicalization” at the UNESCO conference “Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together“ in Quebec, Canada in November 2016.

Abu-Fadil on female Internet radicalization

Abu-Fadil on female Internet radicalization

She referred to research by Lebanese sociologist Mona Fayyad who said high crime rates in crowded urban areas, notably poverty belts surrounding major cities, often go undetected by social monitoring and supervision, leading to an increased possibility of crimes and violence alongside a collapse of traditional structures.

Fayyad focused on Syrian refugees and migrants in Lebanon and their exposure to untold horrors and injustices possibly leading to deviant behavior. Lebanon hosts upwards of 1.5 million Syrian refugees and migrants who escaped the war in their country, depending on whose figures one believes.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon may add to security threat

Syrian refugees in Lebanon may add to security threat

According to women experts on a BBC Arabic TV show, many of the recruits fighting in Arab countries come from abroad. While home grown female jihadists in Iraq exist, for example, many others hail from Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Europe and Russia.

One researcher said women recruits exhibited character weakness, a proclivity to violence, a need for escape (from their reality), and were in search of alternatives.

Sadly, authorities in many countries treat the symptom, not the cause, of radicalization, Abu-Fadil said.

What draws women and girls to extremist organizations? Females join ISIS ranks to follow boyfriends, husbands, siblings or other family members.

Female jihadists duped

Female jihadists duped

In most cases, it’s under the false pretense of a better, holier and more exciting life. To their horror, they discover it’s all a hoax.

Among the non-Muslim-majority countries, Russia, France, and Germany supply the largest numbers of ISIS’ foreign workforce, a World Bank study said.

Recommendations on tackling female radicalization

Recommendations on tackling female radicalization

A writeup of Abu-Fadil’s presentation is available here.

MU Director Joins TAKREEM Selection Board 2014

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil was tapped to join the TAKREEM Selection Board 2014 that chooses candidates for one of the Arab world’s most prestigious prizes.

Lebanese TV star and talk show host Ricardo Karam founded the TAKREEM Initiative and serves as its CEO.

Takreem founder and CEO Ricardo Karam

Takreem founder and CEO Ricardo Karam

The Selection Board met in Beirut in April 2014 ahead of a final gathering of TAKREEM’s Jury Board that includes internationally renowned figures from, and interested in, the Arab World.

All nominations are non-discriminatory and are accepted independent of age, gender, national origin, religion or political affiliation.

Candidates should be of Arab ancestry for all categories except for one, the award of exceptional international contribution to Arab Society.
Karam (seated) with Takreem's 2014 Selection Board members

Karam (seated) with Takreem’s 2014 Selection Board members

The Selection Board groups individuals from various professions, renowned for their distinctions and achievements, and their responsibility is to draw up a carefully considered short-list of candidates in each award category.

The categories are:

  1. Humanitarian and Civic Services
  2. Environmental Development and Sustainability
  3. Scientific and Technological Achievement
  4. Innovation in Education
  5. Cultural Excellence
  6. Arab Woman of the Year Award
  7. Young Entrepreneur Award
  8. Outstanding Corporate Leadership
  9. Exceptional International Contribution to Arab Society.
Abu-Fadil (far right) with Innovation in Education selection board members

Abu-Fadil (far right) with Innovation in Education selection board members

The 2014 TAKREEM laureates will be announced at a ceremony in November in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

 

Abu-Fadil to Tunisian Journos: Separate News & Views

Don’t report the process, tell the audience what is important and why, BBC veteran Russell Peasgood instructed Tunisian journalists at a workshop to review their output following an earlier course.

Peasgood provided insights on how to improve radio and TV reports, what camera angles are best for what types of shots, indoor and outdoor sound quality, broadcast interviews, and overall content.

Russell Peasgood critiques Tunisian TV report

Russell Peasgood critiques Tunisian TV report

The training was co-conducted by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil in Tunis and is funded by the European Union (EU).

Abu-Fadil urged the trainees to distinguish between news and views and to separate the two in their reports

She also advised them to simplify the language they use in print, broadcast and online reports and to address themselves to their respective audiences, not to their bosses.

Magda Abu-Fadil explains difference between news and views

Magda Abu-Fadil explains difference between news and views

The trainees represented media based in Tunis, Sousse, Manouba, Sidi Bouzid, Nabeul, Sfax and Djerba.

Tunisian journalists benefit from professional training

The workshop in March 2014 is part of a journalism training project funded by the EU and run by a BBC Media Action-led consortium covering 17 countries in the “European Neighbourhood.”

@SocialMediasPACE Empowers Lebanese Netizens

A standing-room only hall of Lebanon-based netizens sharpened their skills, rubbed shoulders with experts and networked feverishly to expand their professional and online activist horizons.

Dubbed @SocialMediasPACE, a one-day fair in Beirut grouped activists, bloggers, journalists, Net newbies and geeks to “explore ways to leverage the power of digital technologies to foster civic engagement and social change.”

Lebanon-based netizens acquire online skills

Lebanon-based netizens acquire online skills

“Google showed me how little I knew about marketing and personal branding,” admitted radio and TV talk show host Milad Hadchiti, the event’s MC who doubles as a branding coach, about his early encounters with the search engine and social media.

An introduction by media specialist Nada Hamzeh of The Promoting Active Citizen Engagement (PACE) program funded by the US Agency for International Development USAID), focused on ways to activate NGOs and civil society groups by building strategies for their social media and creating partnerships between different actors.

“The goal of this three-year $8.3 million PACE project, is to strengthen civil society’s ability to create a stronger civic culture and more democratic governance throughout Lebanon,” said Denise O’Toole, director of the Education, Democracy & Governance at USAID/Lebanon. “So far, a number of initiatives have been launched and successfully implemented under PACE to empower local organizations to become catalysts for change on a variety of issues in their respective communities.”

USAID’s Denise O’Toole

USAID’s Denise O’Toole

A first panel on content, not tools, featured cyber advocacy expert Imad Bazzi (a/k/a Trella), IndyAct communications director Ali Fakhry, Kazamedia founder Ahmad Karout and Online Collaborative digital marketer Darine Sabbagh.

“We can use cyberspace to send out political messages,” said Bazzi, who with cohorts launched a teasing campaign dubbed “Laehat Abeeh Nafsi” (I Sell Myself List) with frivolous content ahead of planned legislative elections in Lebanon.

Screen shot of Imad Bazzi’s (Trella) home page

Screen shot of Imad Bazzi’s (Trella) home page

 Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil chaired a panel entitled “Alliances that pay off: Convergence between traditional and social media, civil society and marketing professionals.”

“We’ve gone from video cassette tapes to mobiles and with the development of social media it’s good to be in touch with the people,” said Tania Mehanna, senior reporter/correspondent at LBCI TV.

Other panelists were Omar Sadek, managing director at J. Walter Thompson, Patrick Richa, head of web and news services at MTV-Lebanon, and Riad Kobeissi, investigative journalist at Al Jadeed TV.

MU's Abu-Fadil chairs panel grouping Riad Kobeissi, Patrick Richa and Omar Sadek

MU’s Abu-Fadil chairs panel grouping Riad Kobeissi, Patrick Richa and Omar Sadek

According to Sadek, private companies are becoming more involved in corporate social responsibility and trying to mix profits with their role in society.

“Media firms need content to draw in audiences. The alliance between NGOs and media via marketing companies is attracting more attention and can lead to the public good,” he added.

Networking was paramount at the confab. The program included social media roundtables using free and open source software, online safety and privacy, and consultancy booths featuring crowdsourcing and multimedia platform management.

The event was covered extensively by Lebanese media (PDF).

Media Ethics, Violence Against Children on Rotana’s “Sayidati”

Ethics came to the fore again – this time on the topic of violence against children and how much of it should be covered by the media.

In an interview on the Rotana Khalijia channel’s program “Sayidati,” Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil stressed the importance of drawing red lines where children are concerned and urging media to abide by guidelines for good journalistic practice on issues related to violence.

Magda Abu-Fadil discusses media ethics and children on Rotana’s “Sayidati"

Magda Abu-Fadil discusses media ethics and children on Rotana’s “Sayidati”

The show’s segment related the cases of the body of a naked child splashed on TV screens, a girl stricken with AIDS being visited by celebrities, and a boy whose parents abused him.

Abu-Fadil said it was important to create awareness through the media about such incidents but that it was equally critical to ensure that one does not cross that very fine line between reporting and sensationalism.

“Sayidati,” co-hosted by Saudi presenter Maysaa Al Amoudi, is broadcast live from Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.