Arab News Recruits Embark on Journo Journey

Arab News recruits took the plunge into the choppy waters of journalism through a battery of tests and presentations ahead of what they hope will be a reporting, and maybe editing, career.


The ABCs of journalism

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil assessed the rookies’ knowledge of geography, history, basic economics, verification skills, writing copy, headlines and captions as well as note taking and observation by storifying video content during a three-day workshop in April 2021.

She pointed out errors writers often make, cautioned against redundancies and ran them through grammar, punctuation, editing and rewriting exercises.

Understanding mis-, dis- and mal-information

Abu-Fadil said hard news writing wasn’t literature or poetry and stressed the importance of fact checking in a bid to mitigate the damage from mis-, dis- and mal-information.

Journalism is an interdisciplinary field requiring extensive reading and research, she said, and urged them not to fall for superficial social media messages.


The lead (lede) can make or break a story

The trainees 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.

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


Writing American or British English

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.


Interview skills

On the final day, the recruits demonstrated what they learned through rigorous writing and editing exercises. They viewed a video to test their sense of observation and news judgment and a short film on fact checking.

Abu-Fadil Caps Workshops Run With Egyptian Journalists

Capping a series of workshops across the Middle East/North Africa region and beyond, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil joined BBC veteran Jim Fish to train two groups of Egyptian journalists in Jordan.

BBC veteran Jim Fish reviews journalists' work

BBC veteran Jim Fish reviews journalists’ work

Fish and Abu-Fadil reviewed and assessed the work of two groups of reporters, producers and editors for Egyptian print, broadcast and online media.

Egyptian journalists listen to comments about their work

Egyptian journalists listen to comments about their work

The journalists’ output was an assignment finalizing training that followed up on earlier courses organized by BBC Media Action and that the journalists had undergone on news reporting and writing.

Jim Fish & Magda Abu-Fadil with Group I of Egyptian journalists

Jim Fish & Magda Abu-Fadil with Group I of Egyptian journalists

The September 2014 back-to-back workshops in Amman aimed at ascertaining the importance of proper and diverse sourcing, balance in presenting various sides to the reported information, ethical considerations, newsworthiness and accuracy.

The trainers also stressed the importance of the correct use of language, grammar, attention to translated material used in the journalists’ coverage, and making sure all information, notably numerical data, are presented in the proper context.

Abu-Fadil & Fish with Group II of Egyptian trainees

Abu-Fadil & Fish with Group II of Egyptian trainees

Fish and Abu-Fadil also provided pointers on how to improve radio, TV and online stories’ audio, visual and multimedia presentations.

The European Union-funded workshops are part of a program run by a BBC Media Action-led consortium covering 17 countries in the “European Neighbourhood.”