“The essence of good reporting is to take the little thing you can observe on the ground and put it in the bigger picture”

Putting things into the bigger picture and practice, that was what the 5th day of the workshop was all about. Moving from theory to practice, participants revised the guidelines of ethical journalism and conflict-sensitive reporting they had developed with the trainer Gülsen D. the day before.

That a single perspective is dangerous in journalism was one of the major points that were stressed. In order to achieve conflict-sensitive reporting one would have to avoid ethnocentric views, stereotypes, and move beyond a black and white image of victim and perpetrator.

Jaafar Abdul Karim, credit Pascale Müller
Jaafar Abdul Karim. Photo: Pascale Müller

To help the participants bridge the theoretical input and the media production Jaafar Abdul Karim, moderator of “Shabab Talk” at the German TV channel Deutsche Welle paid a visit to the workshop. Together with him, the young journalists tried to implement their knowledge on a real world situation. How would they design a talk show about the recent Gaza conflict taking for an audience of young Arabs in Germany? Whom would they invite?

Still having their guidelines in mind, many responded that the aim should be to invite guests from both the Israeli and the Palestinian side. It was debated how much sense it would make to invite guests with strongly opposing views. Could it harm the talk show more than it would benefit? Maybe it would be better to focus more on speakers that have some sort of conflict solution in mind?

While Jaafar explained how he decided who was invited to such a talk show, it became evident in the group that implementing the rules they had developed on a daily basis in their journalistic work might sometimes not even be possible. As one participant pointed out: “In a conflict with such history and complexity, it is hard to include all perspectives, because there are so many divisions even within the parties that are usually seen as opponents.”

Roy Gutman, credit Pascale Müller
Roy Gutman via Skype. Photo: Pascale Müller

After the session with Jaafar, Pulitzer Price winner Roy Gutman joined the group via Skype to give them insight into how ethical reporting on conflicts and wars can reflect in fieldwork. He stressed the importance of journalists to dig deeper, to not accept the first version of a story. “Good journalism is that you do not stop at stories people tell you,” he told participants. Gutman also brought the topic of activism from Monday’s panel “Journalists as activist or observers” back into discussion. For him there is no debate: “Journalists should not be activists. We are there to report the facts on the ground.”

With the input and the professional experience, it was time to get the production going. The editorial team consisting of Maria Wölfle, Assaad Thebian, and Pascale Müller introduced the online magazine as the final output of the workshop. Topics ranged from the conflict between refugees and the local administration in Berlin over the housing crisis and Russian separatists in Latvia. As Gutman said: “Essence of good reporting is to take the little thing you can observe on ground and put it in the bigger picture.” In the next days small reporting teams will keep working on their stories to make this happen.

Text: Pascale Müller


Social media recap: 14 – 20 April

Each week we recap the posts we have had on social media. This is 14 – 20 April.

International Media Support
Two weeks ago an agreement was signed aiming at easing the tension between Iraqi journalists and police forces. It is an important step in increasing the safety of journalists working in the country. However, the question of its implementation in the upcoming years remains a question. The safety of journalists is crucial for good media making – but how can we ensure it in the most sustainable manner? Read more here.

Social media recap: 7 – 13 April

Each week we recap the posts we have had on social media. This is 7 – 13 April.

The recent clashes at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan resulted in police intervening and using tear gas.
Are we to expect more clashes as thousands of people are daily forced to seek refuge outside Syria? Read more here.

“By now, the third generation of activists is already at work. This means that the revolution is devouring its children at an alarming rate. However, it also means that dozens of committees are re-inventing themselves each year and that people are still willing to assume responsibility and risk their lives for their vision of a free and democratic Syria.” Kristin Helberg invites her readers to look at the local activities which continue in the spirit of revolution – which is something that we are increasingly forgetting given that the situation there escalated to full-fledged war. Discover the seeds of democracy efforts in Syria in her article.

Committee to Protect Journalists
New York, April 9, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists will release its 2014 Impunity Index, a global tally of countries with the highest number of unsolved press murders. The index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population, shows that authorities are often unwilling or unable to pursue justice in journalist killings. Since 1992, more than 600 journalists have been murdered with impunity, a disturbing trend that sends a chilling message to those reporting uncomfortable truths. Read more here.

Lund University
Are you a resident in MENA and passionate about social innovation and new media? Would you like to consolidate your knowledge and meet other like-minded people? Then you have more two weeks to apply for SIDC, a programme carried by Lund university. Read more about the programme here.


Watch this short film about experience of four Lebanese ex-fighters who now joined their forces to promote peace and coexistence. The film is a campaign documentary produced by British Council under the Active Citizens project national initiative to promote peace and community cohesion.
The film raises awareness about the risks of slipping into the civil war again and the danger of using armed conflict and violence as a solution. The film brilliantly depicts the experience of 4 ex-fighters from different religions and parties of the 1975-1990 civil war era where they describe their “dreadful” moments using a common letter addressed to the Lebanese to become fighters of peace. Documentary is directed by Rebecca Lloyd-Evans and Zeina Aboul-Hosn.

Global Voices
Read this month´s Digital Citizen 1.5 by Global Voices Online about the situation of several bloggers in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen; concerns about “anti-terrorism” laws in Kuwait, Morocco, and again Tunsia and Egypt; troubling cybercrime laws in Qatar and Saudi Arabia; and freedom of speech in Mauritania where a journalist may face death penalty over an article he published in December and in the United Arab Emirates where six Emiratis were arrested for their comments on twitter. Read more here.

In Tripoli, citizens are self-administering public order in the post-Gaddafi era. As part of this, some of them have set up newspapers in order to educate the youth in the country. “We want Libyan teenagers to read newspapers; after all, we need a culture of reading in our country,” says one of them. According to this piece on Qantara, “this task, which is difficult everywhere else in the world, seems almost impossible in Libya. During the Gaddafi era, reading the boring state-controlled newspapers was simply a waste of time. As a result, hardly anyone reads newspapers anymore.” There are more difficulties such as the lack of journalists and funding. Many editors even fund these papers from their own savings. Read more here.

Social media recap: 24 – 30 March

Each week we recap the posts we have had on social media. This is 24 – 30 March.

Al Jazeera
As the world is still discussing the death sentence of hundreds of Muslim brotherhood members in Egypt, more are still to be tried. Today, a second mass trial was adjourned until April 28. Read the article here.

Did you see the “First Kiss” #video? Check out the Egyptian version #Egypt #FirstKiss

YouTube | The Atlantic
Do you remember the “No women – No Drive” video?

The maker, Alaa Wardi, has more cover versions and satirical versions of songs! The Atlantic dedicated him a piece of how the Saudi-Iranian Youtube Star about internet fame, the lack of a music scene in Saudi Arabia, stereotypes, the Western dominance over pop music. Between all this information, the piece contains several of his videos.

Social Media Recap 17 – 23 March

Each week we recap the posts we have had on social media. This is 17 – 23 March.

Al Akhbar English
“Article 75 of the Press Law prohibits publishing news that: “contradicts public ethics or is inimical to national or religious feelings or national unity.”” There is an urgent need to rewrite the media-related laws in Lebanon in order to provide for the freedom of expression. Many bloggers and journalists feel that the status quo is limiting their work and does not support investigative journalism at all. Are you from Lebanon and feel the same? Are you from another country where similar laws limit your basic rights? Read more here.

Heinrich Böll Foundation Middle East
“When Take Back Parliament (TBP) a political secular movement, was established in 2012 by a group of young Lebanese who want to abolish the sectarian and corrupted political system, the initiative was received very positively, because it finally offered an organized platform to the secular youth to express itself politically.” But what has happened with Take Back Parliament since that? And why did the “sprint turn into a marathon”? You can find answers to this question in this paper written by Mouna Maaroufi for Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East.

YouTube | Your Middle East
The “Happy”-wave hit the Arab world. This is one of the first Arab “Happy” videos from Bizerte, Tunisia. “You can try as hard as possible not to fall into the media’s trap which provides us every day with headlines about protests, clashes or economic problems in Arab countries … – the images of angry protesters, people suffering from poverty and corruption and the feeling of instability still bob up in many minds immediately,” Katharina Pfannkuch on Your Middle East states. According to her, the “Happy”-videos are one way for Arabs to show that there is another side, too. This piece is an overview of many more Arab “Happy” videos, uploaded from #Egypt, more parts of #Tunisia, #Lebanon, and #Jordan.

International Media Support
There is a new women´s magazine in Egypt, Masreiat, started by dedicated female journalists. The first issue covered the topic women´s participation in the referendum for the new constitution in January this year. The magazine will also focus on topics like women and religion. A publisher is still to be found. The first issue was distributed via NGOs in Egypt and was perceived well, according to editor-in-chief Nafisa El-Sabagh. “There is an audience out there and the many issues women deal with in society are still not covered in a serious manner. We can fill that space,” she says. Read more about Masreiat and download the first issue on International Media Support here.


Social media recap: 10 – 16 March!

Each week we recap the posts we have had on social media. This is 10 – 16 March.

Your Middle East
The youth movements in Egypt have for a long time faced a wave of criticism that their engagement with community ends at Facebook and Twitter. But is that still a correct assessment of their actions? How can groups like April 6 attract wider support for their cause and integrate in the change process that takes place in the country? Read more here.

Al Jazeera
With the prolonged conflict in Syria it is high time to reassess the international assistance to refugees. The fear of yet another lost generation seems to be quite acute – but what are the ways to best integrate the youth within the existing educational structures? And is that even possible? Read more here.

Committee to Protect Journalists
As the fourth year of conflict in Syria begins, the online world is #withSyria today. 2013 was the second year in a row the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked #Syria the deadliest country in the world for journalists. “More journalists are missing in Syria than in any other country in the world,” is stated in their world overview `Attacks on Journalists´. CPJ mentions new threats that came up in 2013 because of rebel groups and anti-press violations. They then give infographics with the numbers of abducted, killed, and arrested journalists, and those who are in exile. Read the report here.