Gender-based violence workshop wraps up JTP training projects

The JTP’s swan song was a five-day workshop in November-December 2011 during which Lebanese journalists learned about the issue and what impact it has on society.

The training, sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), included reporters from Hamzet Wasel magazine, Al Joumhouriya newspaper, Al Jadeed TV, Al Intiqad newspaper, Al Mustaqbal newspaper, Al Mustaqbal website, Astuces Parents magazine, and Assafir daily.

On Day 1, UNFPA experts Asma Kurdahi and Nicia El Dannawi launched the event with definitions about gender-based violence (GBV), while expert Caroline Succar discussed forms and manifestations thereof and UN consultant Nada Darawzeh spoke about international treaties relating to the topic.

On Day 2, Dr. Naji Souaibi showed examples of battered women and spoke of the health consequences of GBV, while economist Mona Khalaf explained what financial consequences violence has on individuals and society as a whole. A third session included Father Abdo Abou Khalil and Sheikh Mohamad Ali El Hage El A’meli to discuss the social, cultural and religious aspects of GBV.

On Day 3, lawyer and activist Danielle Howayek broached the subject of GBV legislation in Lebanon and was followed by UNFPA’s El Dannawi who spoke about that UN agency’s in-country programs and services, while a third session featured Lebanese University professor Nahawand El Kaderi who discussed results of research she has conducted on media coverage of GBV.

On Day 4, veteran journalist Iman Chamas Choucair conducted three sessions including case case studies, preparation for writing stories on GBV, actual writing exercise and editing the materials. Various video clips were shown, including a segment from a documentary about women beaten by their husbands, two of whom died from the violence.

On Day 5, multimedia expert Maya Rahal tied in the subject of GBV with writing for the Web and using social media to disseminate news about gender-based violence. The workshop ended with JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil discussing media ethics in GBV coverage.

Public health training for journalists

The JTP partnered with the Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceutical firm and AUB’s Faculty of Health Sciences to conduct training for 23 Lebanese journalists in October 2011.

Dr. Rana Barazi, a public health expert, explained how medical issues needed proper coverage to create awareness among citizens in Lebanon.

She briefed the reporters and editors on diseases and how to find reliable information related to them.

JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil handled two other sessions during the event attended by reporters from L’Orient-Le Jour, Tele-Liban, Cure & Care website, Al Ousbou Al Arabi magazine, Nisrina magazine, Laha magazine, Al Mustaqbal newspaper, Sayyodati magazine, MTV, Fairouz magazine, Sada Al Balad daily, Time Out Beirut magazine, Snob magazine, Future TV, Magazine magazine, the National News Agency, Assafir newspaper, Al Mughtarib magazine, Al Hasnaa magazine and Al Hayat newspaper.

Abu-Fadil’s first session zeroed in on ethics in covering health-related topics, with a focus on privacy, accuracy, fairness, balance and the importance of securing multiple sources for all stories. She also cautioned reporters not to confuse public relations and marketing gimmicks provided by pharmaceutical companies with serious reporting.

In a second session, Abu-Fadil touched on public policies in Lebanon as they relate to health issues, notably legislation and how it is formulated.

She also spoke of the role of civil society groups, lobbying efforts and advertisers, and how they all influence public health.

Last, but not least, Abu-Fadil share with the trainees a set of interviewing and reporting skills tailored for public health coverage.

JTP arms parliamentary committee staffers with PR knowledge

A group of parliamentary committee staffers learned how to become effective communicators in the fourth Journalism Training Program (JTP) workshop of a series focused on Lebanese legislative affairs. 

”The workshop was important, useful and professional, and I hope to attend another training course,” commented Assaad Nassar, from the National Defense Committee.

His views were echoed by other participants in the five-day training course in November 2010 on communication/media crisis management conducted by the JTP and funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

Abu-Fadil and Kabbara with parliamentary staff trainees and WFD’s Sarah El-Yafi

Trainees learned about building bridges with the media, deadlines for different news organizations, how press offices operate, writing news releases, capitalizing on technological advances to promote their issues, and setting up digital newsrooms.

Hala Awada, a researcher in parliament’s Studies and Information Directorate, was particularly keen to acquire news writing skills as well as the ability to use the Internet more effectively in her daily work. 

Participants became familiar with the role of official spokespeople and having plans in place for crises, to facilitate dealing with journalists in times of trouble.

The art of the interview, media ethics and the organization of news conferences were among the topics covered in the workshop. 

Journalist Ibrahim Arab was on hand to familiarize participants with on-camera appearances, while parliamentary reporter/editor Akram Hamdan helped them with writing exercises.

For Omar Chehadeh, secretary of the Media and Communications Committee, it was an opportunity to benefit from practical exercises and case studies related to legislative matters. 

Finance and Budget Committee staffer Kassem Gharib felt he could apply most of what he learned in his job, while Lina Hobeich, who heads the Francophone Department, suggested all parliamentary employees be trained in dealing with the media.

JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil was the primary trainer, aided by veteran journalist Rouba Kabbara in the second WFD-funded workshop for parliamentary staffers.

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.

JTP teaches parliamentary staffers media skills

Sixteen staffers from various Lebanese parliamentary departments, parties, and blocs sharpened their communications skills at a workshop conducted by the Journalism Training Program (JTP) and sponsored by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

“We’d like other workshops on different topics because this training was dynamic and more productive than previous ones we’ve attended,” said Youssef El Hajj, the secretary of a parliamentary committee.

Participants were immersed in the details of building bridges with the media, dealing with deadlines, public affairs priorities, writing news releases, setting up a digital newsroom, and exploring the role of spokespeople and media crisis management.

“In a brief period we learned a lot of new theoretical and practical things, and we corrected some misconceptions we had,” said Rita Nassour, an assistant to Free Patriotic Movement MP Ibrahim Kanaan.

Other trainees from the Kataeb Party and Progressive Socialist Party took turns learning interviewing techniques and the art of organizing a news conference at the five-day mini-course held at Parliament’s library in April 2010.

They were joined by staffers from Parliament’s IT department, the library, and different administrative offices.

JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil joined forces with trainers Rouba Kabbara, an Agence France-Presse veteran, and Saad Hattar, a BBC correspondent dispatched by the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, which is partnering with WFD for the workshops in Lebanon.

The trainers also briefed the staffers on media ethics, planted news stories, conflicts of interest, and their stakeholders’ visual identities.

The trainees staged mock news conferences, and Hattar demonstrated the pitfalls of journalists’ tough questions and ambush interviews. 

”It was particularly beneficial to me as I am now more insistent on transparency and accuracy in the dissemination of news,” said Houtaf Dham, a reporter for Al Bina’ newspaper and a member of the Syrian Socialist Party, adding that she hoped the workshop would be held again for other staffers.

JTP extends footprint in the gulf

Ten Kuwaiti financial reporters delved into complex issues to beef up writing and editing skills required for coverage of economic crises, in a further bid by the Journalism Training Program to make inroads into the Gulf region.

“It’s crucial to organize such workshops on a regular basis to benefit from new information and freshen up previously acquired knowledge,” said Mohamad Kamal Aziz, a business editor at the Kuwait News Agency of a three-day workshop in March 2010 conducted at KUNA headquarters.

He and several colleagues from KUNA, as well as participants from the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, were immersed in the intricacies of the recent economic crisis; the dangers of financial crises and their impact on national economies; key economic crises worldwide and how to deal with them; covering the broad economy; companies and commodities; turning economic jargon into lay terms; and how to obtain access to documents.

“We need more practical training,” admitted KUNA editor Mariam Boushehri.

Trainer Rouba Kabbara, a seasoned veteran with Agence France-Presse, provided a rich and packed program for the short course.

The trainees also dealt with statistics and figures in financial reports, digging for information while focusing on accuracy, balance and fairness, cultivating business contacts, and several ethics issues in business/economic coverage, such as planted stories, staged events, and conflicts of interest.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, JTP Director Magda Abu-Fadil attended a board meeting of the Arab Journalism Awards administered by the Dubai Press Club to select finalists for the two top prize categories, ahead of the Arab Media Forum in May during which all winners are honored.

This is Abu-Fadil’s second year on the board of directors of the Arab Journalism Awards, which groups prominent journalism experts from across the Arab World. The awards are sponsored by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohamad bin Rashid Al Makroum.

JTP helps North African bloggers, activists blossom in Rabat Workshop

Eighteen North African bloggers gathered in Rabat in February 2010 for a workshop on constructive and effective writing, notably about conflicts, and on upgrading their social media skills, despite censorship problems and various technical constraints in the Maghreb region.

Journalism Training Program director Magda Abu-Fadil co-conducted the training sponsored by Washington-based NGO Search for Common Ground (SFCG) with sessions on the evolution of blogging and online media ethics.

The bloggers and activists from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia put their newly-acquired knowledge and ideas to the test, with Naoufel Chaara writing that the workshop had surpassed his expectations.

“Admittedly, I was wrong. The SFCG training ( didn’t match my pre-set idea about workshops and conferences where we suffer from boring speakers and doze off,” he said. “Today, a lot of things will change.:The dynamic nature of the workshop allowed the bloggers to learn, interact, take pictures, shoot video, and post content as they discussed what they can and cannot do in their respective countries.

Morocco enjoys relatively more cyber freedom than its neighbors, followed by Algeria. On the other hand, Tunisia maintains a stranglehold on access to social media vehicles.The workshop was made possible by Leena El-Ali, director of SFCG’s Partners in Humanity program that works to positively affect how individuals and groups in the West and the Muslim world think and feel about cross-cultural issues.

Moroccan journalist/blogger Rachid Jankari, director of MIT Media ( and publisher of, kept the charged pace going, introducing participants to the latest in cyber offerings and tutoring them on how to master the use of various Web tools.

Also on hand was Mohamed Daadaoui, assistant professor of Political Science at Oklahoma City University whose Maghreb Blog focuses on politics, economic trends, and news of the Maghreb region.

Parliamentary journalists hone skills

Journalists representing print, broadcast, and on-line media struggled with budgetary matters, legislative details, and ethical issues at a five-day workshop organized by AUB’s Journalism Training Program (JTP) and funded by the London-based Westminster Foundation for Democracy in cooperation with the Thomson-Reuters Foundation.

“It was a short and useful workshop and provided us with ample information, while drawing comparisons with Britain’s parliamentary system,” said Tamam Hamdan of the National News Agency.

British Ambassador Frances Mary Guy was on hand to launch the training and encourage the journalists.

Trainers included Lebanese media expert Fatima Issawi, a longtime reporter and editor dispatched by Thomson-Reuters; TV correspondent Denise Rahme-Fakhry, and JTP Director Magda Abu-Fadil in November 2009.

Participants also benefited from the experience of veteran Ahmad Zein of Assafir, former AP correspondent and Daily Star editor Mona Ziade, now at the World Bank, and her economist colleague Wael Mansour.Although accredited to parliament, the journalists from Addiyar, Al Liwaa, Al Mustaqbal daily, the National News Agency, Al Anwar, Tele-Liban, Al Manar TV, Future TV, MTV, and Al Nour Radio had to overcome basic assumptions, relearn rules governing legislative procedures, figure out committee responsibilities, and tackle complex fiscal and monetary policies that stump experts.

Media Literacy Workshops in Qatar

Director Magda Abu-Fadil was in Qatar in January 2009 to conduct two brief workshops on media literacy for school activities coordinators and parents in Doha.

The training was held at the request of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. Media literacy is the pet project of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, the country’s first lady, who is behind a multi-year strategy to address the media’s impact on youth identity formation in the Arab world.

The workshops tackled “glocalization” of the media (moving  from the local to the global), media content analysis, dealing with multimedia and social media, interactivity and “screenagers,” digital media filtering, developing media literacy skills, educators’ roles, parents’ input, critical thinking, and empowerment.

Participants were enthusiastic. One said “higher-ups” should take the workshop “to convince them of the usefulness of the media.” A board member of Qatar’s Al Khairiya School said, “Media today are a key factor in changing ideas and personal beliefs and we should capitalize on them to benefit us all.”

Iraqi refugees learn PR skills

A workshop in Beirut in February helped 13 Iraqis with varying degrees of journalistic and public relations experience to advance their careers. The Journalism Training Program worked with the refugees on crisis management in the 21st century, the nature of news and the setting of priorities, the importance of linguistic skills, and the role of the press office.

The training included interviews, news conferences, building a strategic media plan, media ethics, and a visual identity scheme. JTP director Magda Abu-Fadil, explaining how to set up a digital newsroom, also introduced participants to the changing face of multimedia and the need to incorporate online and social media into their integrated communications thinking.

The event was sponsored by International Medical Corps (IMC), a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training, and relief and development programs.