Journalists acquire skills to better cover parliament

Lebanese journalists delved into the intricacies of covering Lebanon’s parliament with the aim of familiarizing them with legislative affairs, budget matters, elections laws, interviewing techniques and media ethics. 

”The information I got will help in my field work, notably details regarding elections laws, with which I wasn’t familiar,” said Rackel Moubarak of MTV.

Moubarak was one of ten participants in a course conducted in September 2010 by the Journalism Training Program (JTP) and funded by the London-based Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), as part of a four-year agreement to train reporters and parliamentary staffers.

“I learned about the government’s Accounting and Audit Office and the budget and how it is approved,” said the National News Agency’s Rana Hage at the third in a series of workshops underwritten by WFD.

The training included sessions on preparation of the budget by World Bank economist Wael Mansour and communications officer Mona Ziade; understanding the auditing process by Judge Elie Maalouf; and a review of parliamentary resources by its chief librarian Amal Tarhini. 

Asked how he planned to use the knowledge he acquired from the workshop, freelancer for Assafir daily and blogger Assaad Thebian replied: “Examination of laws pertaining to any subject I cover.”

Other trainees included journalists from ANB TV, Sawt Al Shaab Radio, OTV, Le Commerce du Levant, the Tashnag Party media, Women and Business, and Shououn Jenoubiyya magazine.

Almost all admitted little familiarity of parliament’s rules, procedures and inner workings.

Also on hand for the training was the British Embassy’s Piers Cazalet, Deputy Head of Mission and acting as Charge, who briefed the journalists on his country’s parliamentary system and how MPs are held accountable. 

JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil provided the requisite discussion on media ethics, while veteran journalist Denise Rahme Fakhry helped out with writing, editing and interviewing skills.