UPDATE: Abu-Fadil Pens Study on How Media in Southern Med Covered Migration in 2019-20

 

Reporting on migration and refugee crises in the Southern Mediterranean region slipped in 2019 and 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak as well as other pressing economic and political issues, according to a study conducted by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil.

“How did media in the Southern Mediterranean countries cover migration in 2019-2020?” the European Union-funded survey implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development focused on the decline to develop a better understanding of traditional and other media’s constraints and how certain elements affected their capacity to tell the “migration story.”

These included the conflict in Syria, flare-ups in Israel/Palestine that spill over into neighboring Jordan, Lebanon’s financial meltdown, and, the strife in Libya and Algeria.

The pandemic added a layer of misery for media in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan already suffering from budget and personnel cutbacks, drops in circulation, vanishing advertising revenue, and competition from non-traditional platforms, with print outlets particularly hard hit and countless journalists having to work from home.

Abu-Fadil also drew on research from news articles and reports from various migration-related organizations.

The common thread among those countries was the relative hiatus in migration media coverage and the discovery that journalists were often ill-informed about the situation in their own back yards, much less in other countries.

The study can be downloaded in English here

In French here

In Arabic here.

 

MU Director Preps Lebanese Journos for Elections Coverage

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil coached Lebanese journalists on the intricacies of covering their country’s legislative elections in May 2022 to ensure solid media coverage based on professional standards that transcend superficial political and sectarian rhetoric.

She conducted an intensive three-day workshop on the processes and mechanisms before, during and after the voting for members of Lebanon’s parliament who, in turn, will elect a new president in November 2022.

Lebanese journalists learning from the pros

The training in April 2022 grouped journalists from traditional print, broadcast, online and alternative media. It equipped participants with news gathering, reporting, fact-checking and interviewing skills.

Topics included the media’s role as elections observers, political parties, generating story ideas, opinion polls, covering women as candidates and incumbents, sources, risk mitigation, election finances, and media ethics.

Magda Abu-Fadil coaches journalists on coverage of Lebanon’s legislative elections in May 2022

The workshop also provided a gender balance component with attention to gender sensitive reporting and sexual harassment. It focused on freedom of expression and safety of journalists, notably challenges to women reporters facing threats, intimidation and editorial interference.

 

Hands-on training during working lunches

Abu-Fadil turned working lunches into hands-on exercises in a newsroom-like environment.

Three guest speakers added their expertise to the mix. Jean Nakhoul, executive producer at the MTV Lebanon channel and an elections analyst, discussed the voting system, election rules and Lebanon’s electoral law.

 

Jean Nakhoul dissects the electoral law and voting process

Zeina Khodor, a veteran correspondent at Aljazeera English TV channel, spoke of her experience in covering elections in Lebanon, Iran and Afghanistan.

Zeina Khodor shares her experience in covering elections over the years

Dyana El Baba, senior projects coordinator at the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE), discussed her organization’s role in monitoring elections.

 

Dyana El Baba explains monitoring elections and reporting irregularities

Dalal Saoud, the Arab region’s director of the Women in News (WIN) program, a branch of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), organized the workshop.

Dalal Saoud describes WIN’s role to Lebanese trainees

 

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) supported the training.

Abu-Fadil Pens Study on How Media in Southern Med Covered Migration in 2019-20

Reporting on migration and refugee crises in the Southern Mediterranean region slipped in 2019 and 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak as well as other pressing economic and political issues, according to a study conducted by Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil.

“How did media in the Southern Mediterranean countries cover migration in 2019-2020?” the European Union-funded survey implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development focused on the decline to develop a better understanding of traditional and other media’s constraints and how certain elements affected their capacity to tell the “migration story.”

These included the conflict in Syria, flare-ups in Israel/Palestine that spill over into neighboring Jordan, Lebanon’s financial meltdown, and, the strife in Libya and Algeria.

The pandemic added a layer of misery for media in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan already suffering from budget and personnel cutbacks, drops in circulation, vanishing advertising revenue, and competition from non-traditional platforms, with print outlets particularly hard hit and countless journalists having to work from home.

Abu-Fadil also drew on research from news articles and reports from various migration-related organizations.

The common thread among those countries was the relative hiatus in migration media coverage and the discovery that journalists were often ill-informed about the situation in their own back yards, much less in other countries.

The study can be downloaded here.

 

MU Director Details Media Bigotry in Ukraine War Coverage on Monte Carlo Doualiya

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil criticized several Western reporters’ and anchors’ bigoted coverage of the Ukraine war by describing fleeing Ukrainian refugees as more “civilized” and worthy of empathy than victims of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview on Monte Carlo Doualiya radio she pointed to the egregious racist descriptions of Middle Easterners and Asians as Third World refugees accustomed to wars, making their fate more acceptable, whereas recent events in Ukraine were considered unacceptable in Europe.

Abu-Fadil monitored tweets and video clips of offensive displays and responded to several of them. The interview was a follow-up to a blogpost she wrote in which she listed several offenders, including from the American CBS News and NBC News networks, Al Jazeera English channel, Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper and ITV.

 

Abu-Fadil Trains Eager Recruits in Basic Journalism

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil paved the way for a new crop of Arab News recruits to become journalists in a fast-moving media landscape through rigorous testing and helpful guidelines on producing media content.

Basic journalism workshop

The three-day virtual workshop in December 2021 involved exercises to assess the would-be reporters’ general knowledge, power of observation, capabilities and skills.

They covered basic grammar, writing, light editing, photo captions, geography, history, economics, politics and culture.

Geography test in a changing news world

The training also covered the definition of news, news story structures, grammar and punctuation rules, the lead, the nut graf, context, background information, how to use quotations, writing headlines and captions, types of news sources, interview skills and media ethics.

The art of caption writing

The final session included writing and editing exercises and the importance of fact checking.

Rewriting, correcting stories

The trainees were told journalism is based on acquiring a body of knowledge on which to draw and build, that it is very hard work and requires patience, perseverance, creativity and ethics.

Writing a headline, lead and nut graf for a video piece

Applying that knowledge journalistically in a cross-platform digital multimedia environment is still based on the principles of good old-fashioned journalism: research, knowing how to filter information, accuracy, fairness, a balanced approach to the news, and endless hours of writing to get it right in impeccable English, Abu-Fadil explained.

MU Director Pens Migration & Media Journalist’s Handbook

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil authored a manual for journalists in the EuroMediterranean region to help them better cover the topics of migration, refugees and human trafficking.

The handbook was published by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in November 2021 and was funded by the European Union.

It’s available for download as a PDF in EnglishFrench and Arabic.

Monte Carlo Doualiya Interviews Abu-Fadil on Migration & Media Study

Monte Carlo Doualiya (MCD) Radio’s Arabic service interviewed Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil on a study she conducted about coverage of migration in southern Mediterranean countries’ media that showed widened polarization between positive vs negative reporting.

Monte Carlo Doualiya logo

Abu-Fadil presented results of the study at the 4th EUROMED Migration Communicators Workshop panel in Paris in November 2021.

The event underlined the need for closer cooperation between journalists and migration-related entities to better convey the story of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

You can hear the audio clip on MCD’s “Digital Newscast” here or download it here [MCD].

MU Director Presents Study at EuroMed Migration & Media Event

Traditional media coverage of the migration question in the southern Mediterranean slowed down in the past two years due to changing priorities but online platforms picked up some of the slack, according to a study.

While more focus was on the coronavirus and budget cuts at news organizations hampered coverage, the report pointed to widened polarization between positive vs negative coverage with a spike in media fatigue in recent years leading to ad hoc and reactive reporting.

Magda Abu-Fadil (far right) presents results of her study on media coverage of migration in southern Mediterranean countries (courtesy ICMPD)

 

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil presented results of the study she conducted at a panel on media and migration narratives and how effective partnerships can be established at the 4th EUROMED Migration Communicators Workshop in Paris in November 2021.

The event underlined the need for closer cooperation between journalists and migration-related entities to better convey the story of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

She used a questionnaire sent to journalists, academics and members of NGOs from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. Jordan isn’t on the Mediterranean but hosts large numbers of refugees and migrants.

The study’s results indicated various actors increasingly used migration for local political and economic goals; social media and “alternative news” became more important in shaping public opinion on migration issues; lack of regulations or control over dis-, mis- and mal-information added to the problem; social media as a tool against migrants, to spread xenophobia and to picture migrants as a potential threat, was a growing trend, notably in transit and host countries; the pandemic affected the number of stories, and, to a great extent, nature and tone of those published, broadcast and posted online; and, the spread of Covid-19 was used as an anti-migrant tool in several countries.

Abu-Fadil concluded by asking the following questions: What constitutes a news story, a feature, an investigative report on migration? Are people on wooden boats seeking freedom and a better life just statistics? What’s lacking in news coverage? Who is worthy of citizenship? Who can contribute to a new adopted homeland?

The workshop was part of efforts by EUROMED Migration V (EMM5) to redefine partnerships, by focusing on the communication skills required to promote balanced narratives that enable effective and sustainable migration policy.

Journalism 101 for Arab News Recruits

Today’s journalists must work holistically across digital platforms but shouldn’t forget the basics of getting the story right and building their knowledge base, Arab News recruits learned in a virtual workshop.

Journalism 101 for recruits

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil put a group of newly-minted reporters at the Saudi daily through the paces by first testing their grasp of geography, history, basic economics, verification skills, writing copy, headlines and captions as well as note taking and observation by turning video content into a story.

Geography test

The three-day workshop in September 2021 included basics in grammar, errors writers often make, redundancies in copy, and punctuation that journalists often take for granted.

Abu-Fadil said news writing wasn’t literature or poetry and provided a detailed explanation of what constituted news.

What’s the story?

She stressed the importance of fact checking in a bid to mitigate the damage from mis-, dis- and mal-information, adding that journalism is an interdisciplinary field requiring extensive reading and research.

She also urged the trainees not to fall for superficial social media messages.

The journalists were introduced to the basic structure of a news story, the essence of news, writing effective leads, the importance of context in the nut graf, proper use of quotations and the ability to distinguish between American and British English journalistic writing styles.

 

How to use quotes

The training’s other key elements included numbers, hype, oxymorons, jargon, clichés and the use of visuals.

Abu-Fadil spoke of media ethics, the use of anonymous sources, and focused on the skills needed to conduct effective interviews, in person and virtually.

She also stressed the importance of establishing interview ground rules and differentiating between attribution terminology in American and British English.

Let’s edit

On the final day, the recruits demonstrated what they learned through rigorous writing and editing exercises that included turning bland official news releases into actual stories with adequate context, proper attribution, well placed quotes, research and strong active verb leads to draw readers into the rest of the article.

 

The importance of fact checking

They viewed a video to test their sense of observation and news judgment and a short film on fact checking.

Abu-Fadil Gets Journos Up to Speed on Zoom Interviews

Mastering interviewing techniques via Zoom requires an additional skill set for journalists, which Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil shared in a workshop grouping Arab News reporters from the paper’s different bureaus.

Two-day workshop on successful Zoom interviews

 

The two-day training in August 2021 first focused on technical and logistical matters, including securing a setting for an interview, preparing one’s digital equipment, testing devices and apps, Wi-Fi connections and recording protocols.

 

Recording interviews with Zoom

Abu-Fadil also focused on how to adjust and stabilize sound requirements, what types of lighting the interviewer and interviewee need and different camera functions, be it on the device used like a desktop, laptop and tablet, or an externally mounted camera.

She also provided tips on the need for a visually pleasing and professionally looking backdrop, the interviewer’s appearance and clothing, and body language.

The right setup: camera angle, lights, seating

Abu-Fadil ended the first day’s session with a set of interview skills and an exercise to demonstrate good and bad backdrops in the participants’ work settings, and interspersed the discussion with videos to demonstrate how best to prepare for Zoom encounters.

On the second day, the MU director turned to the editorial side of Zoom reports, explaining the types of interviews the trainees could conduct and what makes a good interviewer.

Changed newsrooms: broadcasting from home

Changed newsrooms: broadcasting from home

An obvious first step is extensive research on the interviewee and topic at hand as well as finding reliable public information.

Abu-Fadil also mentioned how to choose and use quotes, when to paraphrase and how to attribute quotations. But most importantly, she underlined the need to set the interview ground rules well in advance to avoid any problems.

Always set the ground rules before an interview

She wrapped up the workshop with references to interview legalities and ethics and showed videos demonstrating good and bad interviews.