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Supporting Arab media in transitional and (post)conflict contexts Report Experts Meeting 30 – 31 January 2012 Doha, Qatar


Doha Centre for Media Freedom P.O. Box 24543 Doha, Qatar Tel. +974 4472 7857 Fax +974 4421 3718 research@dc4mf.org www.dc4mf.org

Written by: Carlos Rubio Lay-out by:

Cover: Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt Photo: Koen van Lieshout

Š Copyright Doha Centre for Media Freedom


 

Table of contents Preface 3 Keynote Speech Guy Berger

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Media law and regulation 10 Capacity building 13 Interview with Nadia Al-Sakkaf,

Yemen Times

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Institution building 18 Media management

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Interview with Leon Willems,

Free Press Unlimited Safety and rights

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Interview with Rasha Abdulla,

American University in Cairo

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Biographies 31

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PREFACE The popular uprisings that have engulfed the Arab world since early 2011 offer a window of opportunity to move away from statecontrolled media to a media environment that is free and independent of government interference. They offer an opportunity to develop an environment in which professional and independent media can play a vital role in the building and sustaining of democracies. However, the media, local and international development organisations and press freedom bodies are also faced with serious challenges, such as the challenge of time: societies in transition and those emerging from armed conflict desperately need reliable information to support successful democratic development and reform. Yet these societies are confronted with a media environment that has not yet been restructured and is severely lacking in capacity. Adding to the pressure are the public´s expectations. Because people have witnessed their power in deposing their leaders, there is now a strong sense of urgency to transform the media environment as well. How should media development organisations respond to this unique set of circumstances? How can they cater to the needs of Arab media and the public, while maintaining a balance between rapid responses and intervention that is 4

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sustainable in the long run? How should organisations prioritise and coordinate their various efforts? On January 30th and 31st 2012 fifteen representatives of media development organisations, news organisations and academic institutions, based in the Middle East and Europe, gathered together in Doha to exchange opinions and experiences on the subject of “Supporting Arab media in transitional and (post)conflict contexts�. The closed-door meeting was organised by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) under the format of small group discussions followed by plenary sessions. Participants were asked to discuss five themes: 1) media law and regulation, 2) capacity building, 3) institution building, 4) media management and 5) safety and rights. Each theme was introduced by one of the participants with expertise in that particular area. Group discussions following presentations first addressed the current situation under each thematic heading and subsequently listed some objectives for improving the situation in the near future, including specific recommendations for media development organisations to act upon.

Discussions were not centred on any particular country. Nevertheless, countryspecific examples and contexts appear throughout the report since they were used during the discussions by way of illustration. What follows is a summary of these discussions, which aims to act as a starting point for further exchanges to trigger supportive action for media in Arab countries undergoing major political changes. The content of this document does not necessarily represent the opinions of the DCMF, nor those of the individual participants. With exceptions clearly indicated in the text, the content of the informal discussions is not attributed to any particular person since everyone contributed to varying degrees. Nor does this summary of the discussions imply general agreement on all the points. As in any meeting, opinions vary and where possible, this has been noted. For the most part, however, this report reflects consensual opinions. Lastly, the DCMF would like to thank Daoud Kuttab and Magda Abu-Fadil for their invaluable support in organising this meeting. Equally important is the gratitude to all the fifteen participants who took time away from their busy schedules to attend. Carlos Rubio, a freelance journalist in Doha, prepared this document.


Supporting Arab media in transitional and (post)conflict contexts:

THE CHALLENGES AHEAD Keynote speech by Guy Berger, Director of UNESCO’s Freedom of Expression and Media Development division Doha, 30 January 2012 We need to be aware that the phrase “Arab Spring” implies a rosy view of “blossoming” developments. Everybody likes the spring. But the words can also make us overlook some things. For example, not all Arab countries are in the “Spring”. And even for those that have seen freedom seeds sprout and free speech flowers flourish, winter could still make a come-back. Take Tunisia which is in serious danger of running out of money, raising the question: can you have a successful democratic transition if the democracy is not delivering economic results? The people in Tunisia wanted to get rid of authoritarianism and its fellow-rider, corruption. But what if the result is no jobs, no tourists, and the government can´t pay teachers and other civil servants? That’s very serious

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TUNISIA: A person capped with a Tunisian flag walks past a statue representing the cart of Mohamed Bouazizi, on December 17, 2011 in Sidi Bouzid. AFP

in terms of whether freedom and openness can survive. Tunisia reportedly needs to find $5 billion in 2012 to balance its books; that´s a lot of money. The economic situation in Egypt is also very delicate, as is the political

one. So, the point is that the seasons could go into reverse – and not necessarily forward. And we ought not to forget those countries which enjoyed only a very brief spring before the big chill returned with a vengeance.


Nevertheless, what is significant is that these are times of change, and combined with universal changes in how people can communicate, there are opportunities for progress. Tunisia inspired five other revolutions (even though, as noted, some were not successful), but it also had the effect of spurring reforms in many other countries. What happens in Tunisia will continue to have a bearing on what happens elsewhere in this period, and if the “Spring” in Tunisia does not consolidate into a long-term summer, the repercussions may also extend beyond its borders. In these times, it has become customary to speak of Arab countries and media in “transition”. That begs the question of transition “from what” and “to what”. We need to think about developing new traditions and institutions that impact the kind of democracy that could evolve, and therefore what kind of media can play a part there. Simply illustrated, are we talking about a transition to a US-style democracy with a strong private media, or a British-style which also has a strong public media sector, or a French-style with strong state support for private media? And to what extent can one model be co-opted in a direction that weakens, rather than supports, democratic 6

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development in the specific conditions and traditions of the Arab countries? In the coming period, media in the Arab countries is likely to play a complicated part as both a cause and an effect of a broader transition to a particular form of governance. We should also acknowledge that the “Spring” was the result of growing social and political tensions that eventually burst through the old orders. Coming from that background, many of the “transitions” are hoping for a post-conflict era. Does that history mean that the new role of media as an outlet for pluralism and contestation could ironically become a vehicle for unbridgeable division and renewed conflict? How can a need for democratic social cohesion be made compatible with an independent and diverse media system in which freedom reigns? These are key questions that have to be considered in thinking how particular “pruning” of trees during the “Spring” period can affect the “fruits” that emerge, and the extent to which they can nourish democracy while reflecting differences in ways that nevertheless preserve stability.

that needs to be more closely examined. What do we mean by “Arab” in the phrase? A recent meeting of media stakeholders in Doha produced a statement that said in effect: “One of the challenges today is how to get the Arab voice onto the global stage”. But is there such a thing as a singular or distinctive Arab voice today? Isn’t the “Arab Spring” actually showing us there are many and varied Arab voices? There are different countries and cultures, there are different generations, varying political and religious tendencies, and of course gender differences. In addition, in many Arab countries there are also significant minorities who are not Arabic. So when we refer to the “Arab Spring”, we also have to remember that the reality is much more complex and diverse. While the designation “Arab” has some meaning at a very general level, when you start looking more closely, then the designation becomes less meaningful. You come to the different ways to be an Arab today, and you come to the non-Arab identities of people living in primarily Arab countries. All these differences can be very significant from a media and democracy point of view.

Another thing to ponder about the phrase “Arab Spring” is that it implies a commonality of a people

Besides questioning the terms “Spring”, “transition” and “Arab”, it is also worthwhile to pause and


TUNISIA: People gather on December 17, 2011 in Sidi Bouzid’s Mohamed Bouazizi square, in celebration of the first anniversary of the popular uprising. AFP

think about what is meant by “media”. First, we should recognise that media systems are globally internetworked. Support for national “media” systems may end up missing out on very key information linkages via satellite TV or internet tools. Second, in the past, the way we understood media was largely from the vantage point of newsrooms informing the world (and the propaganda room mis-informing the world). Such top-down media operated in print, or through the airwaves. But by “media” today we begin to acknowledge other ways that these traditional players are beginning to mediate meanings beyond unidirectional messaging from the centre outwards. Furthermore, we cannot be blind to other non-traditional 7

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players in the game – both individuals and institutions that are now “media-tised” as mass communicators. So if we are talking about support for “media”, what are we talking about? Is it the change in culture and communication-modes within the mainstream media? What about support for young people´s abilities to use Facebook? Is it equally valuable to teach citizens en masse how to blog? In short, how important is support for such media when compared to the “old” (even if changing) mass media? There is another question in regard to the meaning of supporting Arab “media”. Are we talking about supporting the media, or are we really talking about supporting journalism? Because a lot of media actually has very

little journalism, especially television and social media. This kind of content is important for values and culture and democracy; for example Sesame Street is very influential and important; social media helps with cohesion and civil organisation. But this content is not journalism. So when we say “supporting media” do we mean content generation and circulation more broadly, or is there a need to target journalistic communication specifically? Another question concerns support for the media qua institution. Should there be support for the development of media advertising? It is not journalism in terms of content, but certainly in a market-dominated system, without a strong and successful advertising component, it is difficult to sustain a lot of journalism (or other kinds of content for that matter). Accordingly, it is important to keep sight of the totality of support, at the same time as being alert to the distinctive areas within this. Finally, let us not be too media-centric or even too journalism-centric. The information flows within society today are not only via media institutions (even if we include Facebook and twitter among these). They also operate as information networks that


operate in parallel, and even independently of the media. Thus, mass media platforms on some occasions may be less important than rallies or SMS in the streets, or direct communication via mosques and cries from roofs as dusk falls. The media (including new platforms) is not a selfcontained system or even always the primary system. It is blurred at the edges and in dynamic articulation with many other systems of communication. Support has to take this whole patchwork ecology into account. One way to begin to unpack a multi-threaded situation is to draw on the UNESCO media development indicators which cover five different dimensions of a media landscape. These foci give insight into the interdependency of the whole and help to direct our attention to key strategic areas for media support. The five dimensions encompass principles that can generally be considered “universal” as regards a democratic media dispensation, especially focusing on press freedom, pluralism, and independence as established elaborations of the human right of free speech (which includes access to information). There is a distinction, however, between the level of principle and that of a specific model. While “Arab Spring” countries should and will evolve their 8

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own models across these five dimensions, what is equally important is whether these accord with the broader general principles. The UNESCO indicators cover the following areas:

1.The legal environment. This is fundamental because you have to get the laws (and the courts) right as a precondition, even if on their own these are not adequate to ensure freedom of expression and a media operation (in the widest sense) which can work to secure democracy and development.

2.The economics of the media. If you don’t get the economics right, you won´t necessarily have pluralism or quality media, nor a widespread media that can provide people with ample choices.

3.The performance of the media. is another question. There can be reasonable law and a reasonable economy and sometimes the members of the media still don´t live up to the ethical role they generally set themselves up to be playing, as one can see in many places, not least in the UK with the phone hacking scandal.

4. The capacity of the journalists to do a good job. This becomes increasingly important in a world where more and more people are doing mass communications, thereby raising the question of what value journalists should (and can) add. In addition, the capacity of civil society groups – and organisations of journalists themselves – to critically support an environment for free media is important.

5. The state of media technology. Clearly this is very important in terms of reach and access, and it also has a strong bearing on control and freedom and the democratisation of mass communications. In short, media support needs to be comprehensive in its view – acknowledging the five points: the law, the economy, performance (are they performing a democratic service?), capacity issues, and technology.

A number of specificities can be highlighted in regard to these areas as issues in some of the Arab countries: 1. In developing or reforming a constitutional and legal framework, it seems imperative that a prior


step be taken. This is to develop a set of policy principles and guidelines, preferably through public participation, which will then inform the lawmaking process. In several countries, there are calls to scrap the Ministries of Information. A policy needs to address then what kind of arrangements could fill remaining gaps when governments are expected to withdraw as a player from the mass communications arena. A licensing authority is required, for instance. Government communications (narrowly conceived as media liaison and advertising) need a home. Finally, if parliaments and national assemblies are the bodies charged with making media laws (based on policy proposals), there may be a need to train MPs in the issues. A cadre of media lawyers may need to be built up.

2. Media institutions need to be addressed from the point of view of ownership, financing and control/independence. Is it really feasible to envisage the conversion of a 42,000-employee state broadcaster in Egypt, into a public service operation? Should a range of alternatives be 9

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considered – including a degree of privatisation or corporatisation, as well as an unbundling of what remains so as to create more than one “public broadcast service”? Private media, which was often part of the previous power establishment, may need attention. Politically privileged access to frequencies, printing facilities and government advertising may need addressing. These media are likely to shift political orientation due to their own survival interests, and the question is whether they can be encouraged to become independent rather than aligned to political poles. Support mechanisms, such as an independent board to subsidise new media companies or a regulatory policy prioritising licences for community radio over commercial radio, need addressing. As all broadcasters use a public resource in the form of frequencies, there are legitimate parameters that can be placed on their licences, which may have a bearing on how they serve audiences with religious and political content, as well as on language and local content requirements, and the extent to which they can reflect social diversity.

3. Performance – the question of ethics and self-regulation becomes a prominent one when media producers and audiences have the freedom to make choices. Non-governmental accountability mechanisms need to be devised – like audience forums, or ombudspersons. 4. Professional skills are a serious issue in regard to retraining old newshounds, and empowering newcomers. Many longserving media workers are accustomed to the easy work of reporting on the president or other authorities, and do not know how to build contacts outside of government or how to ask tough questions and do investigations. New voices in existing or recently-started media companies need to be skills enabled so as to produce content with high production values and compelling audience appeal. All professionals need the competency of dealing with social media, maximising quality discussion, and sifting out rumours. In many cases, the journalism educators themselves need further education. On top of all this, there is a need to educate audiences,


especially youth, about how to navigate the new information landscape – how to critically evaluate content that may be unethical or untrue, and how to conduct themselves as ethical participants in mass communication channels.

5. Technological access is an important issue – ensuring that broadband access is spread to all corners of society. At the same time, power over new technology needs to be examined so that governments and corporations do not abuse electronic capacities to compromise users’ rights to privacy and legitimate free speech.

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In conclusion, besides “Spring” and other terms discussed above, there is one more word that merits some further analysis. When we talk about “supporting” media development, what exactly does it mean? There is a distinction to make between support as meaning “give me your hand” (the recipient having to put something forward) and “take my hand” (the recipient having to receive). There is a support in the sense of “lean on my shoulder”, and the connotation that the one being helped may need to walk according to the pace and direction of the provider of the support. There is support that claims “best practice” for models that are not necessarily appropriate, and which conflate international

standards with specific models. In thinking about the kinds of support, it may be helpful to consider the nuanced sense of different synonyms: aid, assist, scaffold, underpin, back-up, donate, give, empower. And one that perhaps we use too infrequently, to “show solidarity”. What these remarks attempt to do is to unpack the topic of “Supporting Arab media in transitional and (post) conflict contexts”, pointing to the complex and exciting challenges ahead. If the insights provided here help to provoke thought and clarify understandings, then the long journey ahead may become slightly less difficult. But the ultimate promise is that when “Spring” changes to summertime, as the song says, then “the living is easy”.


MEDIA LAW & REGULATION 1.

Overview Recommendations

AN OVERVIEW The legal framework is crucial in shaping the media’s role in political transitions and post conflict reconciliation. Important issues to consider are: regulation of the media and the question of what and what not to regulate, and who should regulate; laws restricting content such as defamation and national security; rules regarding ownership, licensing, and the financing of public media (license fees, budget allocation); plurality and diversity – or the rights of minority groups to be involved and have a voice in the media; access to 11

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information; and protection of journalists. The subject of media law and regulation is proving to be an issue generating much disagreement within the process of political transition. The main bone of contention is the extent of the government’s role in the new organisation of the media landscape. It is important to note that whichever regulation is adopted will likely remain in place for years to come, since laws and regulations are not easily changed. When looking at the issue of media law and regulation,

one first needs to look at the structure of the system and ask questions such as: who owns or should own the media? Or: how is entry onto the market regulated? In most Arab countries the majority of the media is state-owned, partly due to the many regulations that make it very difficult for private entrepreneurs to enter the market. Sometimes new investors are required to provide at least one million dollars in starting capital, or the requirements for obtaining a license are simply too strict. This means, in essence, that unless you are wealthy, you are unlikely to be able to set up a media enterprise in your country. At the moment, most media laws date back to the 1990s, and have changed little since. One country currently reforming legislation is Tunisia, where a mix of public, community and private media is in place. Clearly all three sectors need to be taken into account in any legislation. Absent in several Arab countries is legislation that recognises and organises a variety of media formats. In Morocco, for example, the private radio sector is


legislated along clear lines, but not so the television sector, which is almost exclusively in the hands of the state. As a result there is no recognition of a private television sector or community media within the broadcast industry. Algeria’s legislation recognises online media as well as private radio and television, but it also contains important restrictions on content and independence, such as a harsh defamation law or very high fines that can put any media outlet out of business. There should be special laws in place to deal with communityowned media, particularly radio, that acknowledge the importance of this medium in the development of media in general.

expression. Examples of these laws being abused to silence journalists can be found in large numbers. Content that is considered to be an “an attack on morality” is also problematic. Here, the pressure comes mainly from religious groups urging authorities to pursue publishers which they believe attack Islamic morality. Clearly, these are important issues that need to be addressed in the changing media legal environment.

On a regional level, the 1996 UNESCO declaration of Sana’a on promoting independent and pluralistic Arab media is clearly outdated now.

When it comes to legal measures to protect journalists, some countries have laws that state that journalists should be protected while carrying out their job, but most of the time these laws are not enforced. States need to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes and acts of violence against journalists are brought to justice, and take preventative measures to ensure that such crimes are not committed in the first place.

Many countries have a variety of laws to control the content of the media. Content restrictions can be found in laws directly dealing with the media, but also in laws of general application such as defamation laws, which are controversial since they cover issues including the reputation of those in office. Since 2001, many Arab countries have adopted laws concerning national security and public order that are being used to restrict freedom of 12

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In a more recent development, in May 2011 Tunisia has passed a law regarding access to information, which is a step forward, but seems incomplete as it contains a very narrow definition of freedom of information.

The legal definition of journalist and of the journalism profession is at the forefront of debates on the new media landscape in Arab countries. Who is and who is not a journalist

remains a controversial issue. In some instances governments are trying to define the profession and the profession is trying to define itself, even to differentiate itself from the new “citizen journalists”, who are also legitimate actors in the media scene. Some countries like Tunisia and Algeria have defined the figure of the journalist, whereas in Yemen, for example, the government is creating “ghost” journals and journalists with the intent of spreading propaganda. The technologies used to broadcast or disseminate information also need to be considered since they have an effect on important issues, such as censorship. In most countries the state owns the broadcasting facilities and it can easily block any unwanted content as there is a one- to two-minute delay in broadcasting. Overregulation is a tool that can also be used by governments to restrict media freedom. In Egypt, for example, journalists and media owners suffer from pressure and have to be especially careful because of the large number of regulations affecting their work. Lastly, an important question must be asked about the legal issues mentioned above: could they or should they be incorporated into a new constitution in line with Article 19 of the UN’s International Declarations of Human Rights?


RECOMMENDATIONS MEDIA LAW AND REGULATION

Media laws and regulations should take into account each country’s circumstances. That does not preclude that new legislation on media should be in line with international law convention and best practices. A multi stakeholder approach to drafting media regulations should be taken, by way of including all actors in the process: from legislators to journalists, and representatives of civil society. There needs to be local ownership in this law-making process. The spirit of all media laws and the government action should be towards creating a positive and enabling environment for the development of a free, independent and pluralistic media. Freedom of expression should be enshrined in the constitution. Access to information laws should be implemented in every country as a matter of priority. The definition of the term ‘journalist’ presents some legal problems but it should ideally be interpreted in the broadest possible sense, or simply not be defined. A research paper on the definition of journalism and how different legislations perceive the journalism profession would be welcomed by media development organisations. Regulatory bodies in general should be independent from the government, and state-owned media in particular should have independent boards. Codes of ethics guiding journalism practice should be developed by journalists and editors themselves. Decriminalisation of defamation: journalists or citizens should not be prosecuted for criticising officials, or for expressing any opinion. Entry barriers to the media market must be lowered or abolished for new investors. New media enterprises that do not require use of public broadcast frequencies should only have to register, rather than be granted a license. Broadcast legislation needs thorough reform, and should recognize a tiers sector: public, private, and community media. Financing of public media should be transparent and government advertising should not be used as a political tool to punish some and rewards others. In addition states should put an end to their pressures on and interferences with private advertisers’ choices.

Trickling Through, by Orlando Cuellar

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States ought to take the lead in promoting media and information literacy, especially in the education system, in order to empower the public to understand and demand quality media.


CAPACITY BUILDING 2.

Overview Recommendations

AN OVERVIEW Media capacity building refers to strengthening the skills, competencies and abilities of all the stakeholders in the media sector. Good capacity building programmes are essential to the media that is emerging in Arab countries undergoing transition to democracy or in (post) conflict situations. These programmes need to be customised for each country, as no two countries are alike. Equally important, the approach needs to be interactive if it is to succeed. The best practices tend to be cooperative endeavours, calling on the contributions 14

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of university staff, media development organisations and senior journalists. Ideally, capacity building programmes should have a long-term vision clearly set out in its objectives. For example, what type of media sector would we like to see in five years from now? Broadly speaking, one would like to see the media playing a positive role in the nascent Arab democracies. And that goal is where all the efforts should be directed to. Another important aspect for a capacity building programme to be successful is the need to differentiate

between new journalists and experienced ones. The younger journalists are more eager to reinvent journalism, more willing to absorb new knowledge and skills. They are the ones who will be starting first to provide better journalism quality. With the older generation of journalists, a different approach might be needed partly because they are used to being the mouthpiece of the regime and reporting without criticising. Capacity building programmes with this group need to focus more on reforming their journalistic culture. In some cases, these programmes can empower individual journalists to be agents of change. Journalists who have just received new professional training go on to form networks with others who have also received training. And some of these journalists go on to share their newly acquired knowledge and skills with others within their news organisations. One should look at three areas when analysing a capacity building programme:


1) Knowledge: journalists should develop a broad general knowledge of their country and region’s politics, society and culture to ensure they have the ability to report accurately. 2) Skills: good reporting and writing require certain skills. For example, there is a tendency in the Arab world to write in a literary way, rather than writing to the point, in a more journalistic way. Understanding and using new technologies is another essential skill for any journalist. 3) Attitudes: journalism education needs to emphasise the importance of professional and ethical attitudes. There are some visible undemocratic attitudes today in the Arab press that need to be changed, in particular the lack of tolerance towards other people´s views. Generally speaking, the journalism education system in the Arab world has failed. There are few facilities in place, such as properly equipped media schools. Education tends to be very theoretical, without much practice or internships in media organisations. Critical thinking, a key element of quality reporting, has been neglected in most Arab education systems. The curriculum has been taken hostage by governments, usually through their ministries of information and education, forcing any public 15

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or private institution to teach the same official curriculum if they are to be accredited. In most countries there is no connection between the education system and the media market. And midcareer training or on-the-job training is usually absent from the Arab media sector, as reflected in the fact that there are hardly professional training bodies. To make matters worse, there is a widespread culture of nepotism in the job market, where those who are better educated or who perform better at their jobs do not necessarily get rewarded. This has resulted, for example, in a “brain drain”, with many good Arab journalists moving to high paying jobs in international media outlets. Against this backdrop, a lot of funds are being invested now by international donors through media development organisations. There are some successful programmes in place, like “Investing in the Future”, with the Cairo programme still running strong, or positive experiences of in-house training in some Lebanese media. Local ownership of the capacity building process is usually an indicator of success. It is not easy to work in societies with a long history of violence and conflict. The experience in Lebanon suggests that many years of war and conflict have

left a people divided, still trying to build consensus and bridge the gaps towards reconciliation. Change, no matter where it happens, will always be difficult as everyone tries to defend their turf, their status, their job. Long term views, consensus and integral approaches are the best tools for any capacity building programme to overcome the obstacles mentioned above.


RECOMMENDATIONS CAPACITY BUILDING

Widespread reform of media education programmes, in particular, and the education system, in general. Curricula, teaching materials and facilities need to be updated using a holistic and interactive approach. UNESCO´s 2007 “Model Curricula for Journalism Education” could be used as a reference. Better coordination in capacity building efforts, both at local and international level, with organisations setting clearer objectives, sustaining efforts in the long term and allocating resources in a better way. International donors could play an important role in the financing of new and better media training facilities. Priority attention needs to be given to the “training of trainers” in order to rapidly increase the scope of the capacity building efforts. Promotion of a culture of continuing education, with midcareer training, mentored internships. New and veteran journalists need to be reminded of the importance of the ethics of reporting and writing, their rights and responsibilities, and the role of journalism in a democracy. Special focus on multimedia integration and new technologies training in the ever-changing media landscape. Similarly, training should not be restricted to journalism issues, but expanded to incorporate politics, economics, history and other relevant themes in each country. Training efforts should be extended to other staff within media organisations, like those in finance, human resources, and even to members of the public such as the legislators or citizen-journalists so that the role of media and their role as legislators and citizens can be better understood. Establishment of a task force to look into the development of local and regional media, traditionally neglected by international donors and national initiatives which tend to focus their work on the capital cities. Media to be considered a strategic resource by governments in order to prioritise its development.

LIBYA: Aimen Ashur for the DCMF

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INTERVIEW WITH

Nadia Al-Sakkaf,

Publisher

and Editor in Chief of The Yemen Times newspaper, February 2012

Q.

Do media laws and regulations have any validity in a situation of conflict like in Yemen, or do they simply become irrelevant in such a dramatic scenario?

A.

Nadia al-Sakkaf, after winning the first Gebran Tueini award delivered by the “Press Under Siege� conference on 10 December 2006 in Lebanon. AFP

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Yes and no. Media laws should be a reference point for how media behaves and is dealt with in regular times and in times of conflict or emergency. We need to have media laws, or laws that help protect and organise media institutions and people (not necessarily for media only), especially when things go wrong. However, the situation in Yemen is one where there is no rule of law as it is, whether in peace or conflict. So whatever laws there are they become irrelevant and do not hold value or consequences because they are easily broken. There is no respect for journalists or media in Yemen, by the authorities or the people.


Q. Is capacity building or training a priority in times of conflict?

A. It should be a priority especially when the skills being built are lifesaving skills. Covering events during conflict or writing about stay safe or reporting on internet security or legal rights are important work. So many journalists in Yemen could have saved themselves from getting into trouble during the uprising, had they been trained or qualified previously. Very practical things such as dealing with unknown risks and snipers and tear gas, asking for the identity card of the person who is interrogating you and not agreeing to go with any people or authority in their car could have been advised in training.

Q. Do you see an entirely new media system and institutions emerging after the end of dictatorship and conflict, or are there any existing institutions worth saving and reforming in a new democratic system?

A. Yes and no. Institutional change whether management or culture needs a long time to take place and not a sudden revolution. It needs 18

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the coordination between political will and implementing staff at the practical level. But what happened in many state media in Yemen is that at the local implementation level there was desire for change and eagerness to report differently but they were oppressed by the regulations coming from the regime. When the regime lost control over these media they exercised what they wanted. But they are paying for that sudden freedom because they are being harassed by thugs and even the new minister of information, Ali Ahmed al-Amrani, who encouraged change, has had more than one assassination attempt and is also interrogated by security of the old regime.

Q. How does a newspaper like the Yemen Times obtain revenues and manage to survive financially in times of conflict, when the economy has all but collapsed?

A. We tried to touch on our resources for income generation other than advertising. We activated our NGO to create projects so that we cover some expenses, and we reached to advertisers who are not in our usual advertisement scope such as advertisers outside Yemen. We created partnerships with other media for support and reached out to the international media

community to help us with volunteering jobs such as copy editing. Internally we cut down expenses by reducing costs, and cutting down the number of pages and unfortunately we had to let go of some staff. Now we have learned from the past experience and are trying to create income through a new website and by launching a new FM radio station.

Q. Are safety and protection of your journalist’s one of the priorities of your newspaper in the current context of conflict? What measures is your newspaper taking to protect its journalists?

A. We had small training and focus group discussions inside the newsroom on what and how a journalist should do during conflict. I also had a policy of not sending them where people are being shot. To me the life of a journalist is worth more than a scoop. I also encouraged balanced reporting which is a professional way but also a protection measure.


INSTITUTION BUILDING 3.

Overview Recommendations

AN OVERVIEW Strengthening the institutional infrastructure for independent media is an important part of supporting media development in Arab countries. On the one hand there are institutions dealing directly with media: press associations, trade unions, councils, publishers´ groups, journalism schools and mid-career training centres. These institutions should be at the forefront of change and openness, once they have been thoroughly reformed. Or in some countries, like Libya, those institutions have to be established anew. On the other hand there are 19

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institutions that affect the enabling environment media operate in: the judiciary, parliament, police, army, and security forces. The latter need to change their current practices of intimidating the media, as one can see in Egypt, to that of protecting the media and guaranteeing its functioning freely and independently. In general the institutional system in the emerging Arab democracies is weak, as these countries are moving away from a centralized, authoritarian form of power. In most media systems there were

no checks and balances in place between different key institutions. In transitional times it is difficult to establish who the authorities and representatives of institutions are. It is imperative for media actors to ask themselves the crucial question of how they will work with the new authorities once they have been identified. At the moment the situation is confusing and it differs from one country to another. Nevertheless this sort of vacuum and the possibility of starting to work together almost from scratch can be seen as an opportunity for effective media institution-building. Institution-building efforts must adopt a holistic approach, taking into consideration the societal and political context. Media institutions cannot function in isolation in any society, nor independently from each other. One can make specific efforts to change the legal framework affecting the media in one country, but if those changes do not take into account the interests of all stakeholders and other political, social and economic actors, then the effort will be fruitless. Together, journalists,


legislators and society at large need to think of the right business models for the media sector in accordance with a country’s culture and the new social and political context that emerges after departing from authoritarianism. Media institution-building should not be left only to government and business interests: civil society’s voices also have to be heard, with a view to building a truly independent, plural and diverse media system. In post conflict societies like Libya, where there is no tradition of free media, there is a risk of emerging media playing a divisive role, igniting further conflict and tension where they should be promoting a culture of respect, inclusiveness and tolerance. Regulators thus face the challenge of whether or not to allow media organizations to set up along political, ethnic or religious lines, acting as platforms for certain groups. Action against hate-speech needs to be in line with international standards, so that it cannot be abused to suppress legitimate freedom of expression. These standards mean that legislation specifies that its use must be necessary, for a legitimate purpose, and that the application must be proportionate. In other words, political criticism cannot be suppressed, and nor is a full banning of an outlet always proportionate.

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Finally, there should always be an independent appeals procedure. For media development organisations, approaching institution building in a holistic way has proven to be a challenge. There is a tendency to fund shortterm projects and there is insufficient coordination between different funding activities. Sometimes organisations come with fixed ideas or agendas, or they fund programs based on unclear, random criteria like whatever the flavour of the month is (women’s rights, computer literacy etcetera). In addition, the pie is shrinking as a result of the global financial crisis, and the conditions to get funding for a project are increasingly stringent. Local ownership of the process of institutionbuilding is another challenge for international media development organisations. The Doha Centre for Media Freedom, for example, went to Libya in September 2011 to help some small groups of local journalists, but they have now grown into a much larger group and are struggling to organize themselves. So, unintentionally as it might be, there is now an international organization that is heavily involved in building institutions there. Much of the work of international donors involves institutionbuilding, and therein lies

a dilemma, since local ownership of the process should always be fostered. Perhaps “organizational development” is a better term for a comprehensive approach to institution building. Once local actors decide to build or rebuild a certain institution foreign organizations could come in to assist in organizational development through capacity building and other tools. Donors may also fall into the temptation of attempting to build new institutions as the easy answer. But it is really up to the people on the ground, to the local stakeholders, to decide whether it is better to try to reform an existing institution or to establish a brand new one that will become sustainable in the marketplace. In another situation, if a donor is training young journalists or engaging youngsters to talk about freedom of expression, they will likely want to do something, to build something with their newly acquired skills, and that’s where international organisations can fit in, but always taking into account the local sensitivities. Any initiative has to be owned by the target group: international donors can give a helping hand, but local actors have to do the pulling.


RECOMMENDATIONS INSTITUTION BUILDING

Respect local ownership in the institution-building process and adopt a holistic approach. Donors should stay involved for long periods of time and build good relations with domestic partners Speed up institution-building processes before they are taken over by the new governing powers. Media organisations should embrace, before anybody else, new democratic organisational cultures, based on participatory democracy rather than top-down control, and on accountability and transparency. Involvement of civil society in the process of media institutionbuilding, through initiatives like community media. Cooperation with new regimes, and particular individuals, that are truly committed to democracy and free media. Representative issue needs to be addressed urgently: opening up of trade unions to all journalists, establishment of separate publishers´, editors´ and journalists´ associations. Open and free membership should be established in those bodies. Self-regulatory bodies need to be strengthened or created. Press complaints boards, for example, where the public is able to address media ethical problems without having to go to through the court system. Participation of the media in the legislative and regulatory processes, such as in the distribution of television or radio frequencies.

IRAQ: Journalists during the 18th Iraqi Journalist’s Syndicate committee elections held in Baghdad on July 18, 2008. AFP

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MEDIA MANAGEMENT

4.

Economic Censorship, by Stephanie McMillan

Overview Recommendations

AN OVERVIEW Media management encompasses many different but related areas: editorial management, financial and commercial management, human resources management, external relations management and, increasingly important nowadays, technology management or platform convergence management. The current situation of conflict, rapid change and uncertainty engulfing many Arab countries presents a great challenge to media managers. The media landscape is transiting 22

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from an authoritarian and centralised system to a more open and democratic one, just like society in general. It is difficult to see how there can be media development unless there is democratic development. Suddenly, all the plans and frames of reference that media managers (editors, publishers, staff) have had for many years are being turned upside down. This is something for which very few of them are prepared. Transition and a situation of conflict and violence can sometimes offer opportunities

for positive change as has been the case with The Yemen Times newspaper. In the words of its editor, Nadia Al-Sakkaf, “transition has helped us to think differently”. The newspaper has undergone major changes that were unimaginable only six months ago. The newspaper has increased publication frequency, launched a new website and a new radio station, and given more space to citizen journalism. New ways have had to be found to increase revenue since the newspaper previously relied almost exclusively on advertising that was fast diminishing as a result of the economic crisis brought about by violence and conflict. All of these initiatives have been undertaken while some of their journalists were being threatened while working conditions became increasing difficult. “Crisis can bring humility, it makes you realise how weak you are as an editor, especially when the reporters can’t do their job” says Al-Sakkaf. Adapting to change is always difficult, more so when journalists and media people in some Arab countries are extremely conservative or simply averse to change. To add confusion to the current situation, media managers


might be facing another important challenge in the near future: how to transform a politically-driven media into a more conventional one. Audiences who are now avidly demanding information during the process of political change could turn their backs on the media once the transition to democracy is accomplished. From the editorial point of view, most editors are facing the problem of managing staff who are becoming more politically involved, with some journalists even being at the forefront of political change. The quality and objectivity of reporting may suffer if those journalists are allowed to bring their opinions and ideas into their work without clear parameters such as disclosure of perspective and clear separations between facts and opinion. Another new phenomenon in the media newsroom is the increasingly important contribution of citizen journalists to the newsmaking process. Editors and publishers are faced with the difficult task of how to manage those contributions, including the question of whether or not to pay for them. In the commercial and financial aspect of media management, a new scenario is emerging whereby many media outlets will have to become commercially viable, after years of government mentorship. Media managers are now having to become savvier and need to figure out new ways to increase revenues for their companies. Traditional or conventional journalism, as has been practised until recently, will 23

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probably not suffice to keep many of these media afloat. Until recently there was very little competition in the media sector, but this is bound to change. Audiences will now become more important, and their demands and tastes will need to be understood better, if only to attract further advertising. Governments have to stop using advertising as a political tool, to punish enemy media and reward friendly ones, and thus creating a more level playing field for all media. From a human resources perspective, the prevailing managerial style in Arab media is either authoritarian or visionary. In the latter, visionary leadership is the driving force of the media, but management skills or style are not necessarily good and in time the running of that media becomes inefficient. A new style of management, more interactive, more democratic and more professional, will likely be established in Arab media in the near future. A common concern for most media staff is the reluctance of some of their bosses to be “trained”, to be told what to do, in many cases due to sheer arrogance or fear of shame. Managers will also have to adopt a more integrated approach to management for their media to be successful, since currently it is more the norm that editors do not care or do not get involved in the financial management of the media. The shopping list for the new media managers is long when

it comes to human resources: renewed attention needs to be paid to gender issues, career planning and development, safety of journalists, labour regulations, the motivation of staff, levels of stress, internal communication skills, and so forth. Most of these aspects have been neglected for far too long in the Arab media. A new and more democratic workplace culture is very much needed. Sometimes, proper motivation and the recognition of someone’s work can go a long way as a substitute for salary increases in cash-strapped media. On the external relations front, there are many examples of media managers in Arab countries in transition that have not been paying enough attention to the external image of their media. Too much is going on in the newsrooms and they don’t go out to get feedback to see how their media is perceived or talk to government officials or other editors. Lastly, the issue of media platforms convergence is now a major concern for any media manager. Social media has played a key role in many of the Arab world›s revolutions, and have shown that conventional platforms are not enough to disseminate news. Editors need to think in a “multiplatform” way, and develop new skills to make the most of the new formats. The creation of social media editors, for example, as is happening in many international media, could be an example to follow within the Arab media.


RECOMMENDATIONS MEDIA MANAGEMENT

Staff management needs to be improved as a matter of priority as it is directly linked to the production of quality journalism. International media development organisations can play a key role in gathering editors to share experiences and network and can fund their attendance at international meetings to gain exposure to global best practices. Exchanges of experiences between managers in times of conflict and confusion should be promoted, in meetings customised for the Arab context. Media management centres could be set up in each country. Media managers have particular sensitivities and training should be done under the format of coaching, mentorship, or networking. Editors to provide journalists with guidelines so that journalists are capable of distinguishing their opinions and/or political activism from their reporting work. Arab media should have clear policies and guidelines on the management of citizen journalism. Social media editors should be established in most outlets. New multimedia and multiplatform skills need to be developed. New Arab media to become less isolated from society at large. Editors need to go out more to see how their media is perceived by the people, the government, and other media. Governments need to be pressed to stop using advertising as a political tool. More audience research needs to be done in the Arab world.

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INTERVIEW WITH

Leon Willems, Q.

Many Arab countries are now changing their media legislation and regulations. It is widely agreed that this process should have local ownership and should reflect local contexts. Yet we are also told that new legislation in post-conflict or countries in transition should aim to be in line with international conventions and best practices. So, what role should international media development and press freedom organisations play in this process?

A. I remember visiting the UNESCO office in Cairo shortly after the revolution started last year. The policy officer showed me a cupboard full of «new», «renewed», «re-drafted» or «especially new» complete media laws. Six complete works of media law, all written and produced in the last five years, by renowned international media law experts. None of these law efforts, on which probably thousands and thousands of dollars were spent, ever resulted in any tangible result. True change in the legal environment can only be achieved in a consultative process with all stakeholders: 25

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Director of Free Press Unlimited, February 2012

journalists and their unions, media-owners and regulators. If that does not happen, then all efforts are futile. The best thing that international media development organisations can do in regards to the lawmaking processes is to advise and inform the local actors of previous experiences in other countries that worked. In my experience the best thing that can happen is twinning with a country where the process was achieved successfully. That makes the consulting and advisory trajectory more equal, more credible and less donor-dominated.

Q. Is it accurate to say that most media development organisations have failed to provide successful assistance on capacity building because they are usually singlefocused or specialised in just one small part of the capacity building process?

A. I think one of the main problems of media development is the concept of donation. In particular, international donors like to donate equipment with stickers highlighting their


organisations’ names. In many journalists unions of Arab countries, you can see piles of shelved laptops containing stickers glued to screens with the name of the “kind” donor. This equipment usually sits idle in unused training rooms, hidden behind locked doors. Donations don’t work. Equipment is not the problem. Even money is not the problem. Finding the agents of change, the pioneers who will create something new; that is rarely funded by donors. That is where we should focus our attention: in assisting them, in helping them.

Q. Completely new media systems will have to be created in some Arab countries, in Libya, for example. In other countries, particular institutions will be reformed, others newly created as well. What efforts are being done among international media development organisations to coordinate programmes and funding in the area of media institution-building?

A. The challenges after so many years of “non-media” cannot be changed overnight. But I recently came across the people of Small World News who have conducted some very good training with impressive results outside of the main capitals, Tripoli and Benghazi. That is where you sometimes 26

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find the pioneers, off the beaten track. Coordination between international media development organisations exists and it works. But as mentioned before, the key success factor is investing in the pioneers, those people that will bring about change. That is handwork, it needs a tailors’ eye.

commercial printing prices dropped and the end result was that printing outside the newspaper became cheaper. One of the main mantras that cannot be repeated often enough is: “using predesigned models of media development don›t work”.

Q.

Do you agree with the opinion that there is not a culture of journalists› safety within the Arab media in general?

How can media development organisations help find and train better media managers, people who can successfully manage his/her staff?

A. Media managers have certain dreams and results they hope to achieve. If you engage with their dreams and provide options to choose from, you can enter into a true partnership, an equal relationship where you work jointly to achieve better results. This is something that can be and has been done in the past. Organisations like Free Press Unlimited have an extensive track record in training media managers. So do others like WAN-IFRA, ICFJ and IREX. But you cannot predict results. We did market research for a newspaper in Iraq that showed that printing the newspaper inhouse would cut costs and increase revenue by drawing commercial printing jobs to the newspaper. It worked very well the first half year. Then the financial crisis broke out,

Q.

A. I personally admire the reporting that Al Jazeera did on the separation of Sudan and South Sudan. That was quality, in-depth, multi-faceted, diverse reporting. If you do that you know that your staff will run into risk. And then you need a strong security policy and preventative measures to protect your people. Security and safety have never been high on the agenda in any of the media I have worked for, until you pay dearly and your reporters get killed or hijacked. Ultimately, security cannot be guaranteed, but a lot more can be done. Let’s not be naive, it is a topic that needs constant and renewed attention. You cannot expect the nascent independent media sector in the Arab world to know how to handle all of these security and safety issues. Outside help and advice is much needed in this area.


SAFETY & RIGHTS 5.

Overview Recommendations

ground for its journalists. This way of working has had positive results, but there are also signs that reporters run the risk of being caught in between the demands of the newsroom and the demands of security on the ground.

AN OVERVIEW

AN OVERVIEW The safety and protection of journalists is a crucial and essential pre-condition of this profession. Without safety, journalists cannot do their job, and without their job, there will be no media freedom. 2011 was one of the bloodiest for journalists, with the region engulfed in war and revolution. Cameramen and photographers have become prominent targets, and there have been several notable cases reported of physical abuse to female reporters. There have always been safety issues, but they are now growing in number and becoming more complex. There is now more 27

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sophisticated weaponry being used against journalists. In Tunisia, Egypt and Syria we have seen the emergence of the sniper targeting journalists as a prominent feature in the conflict, in some cases even targeting the eyes of the journalists. In Syria the situation is too dangerous at the moment for journalists to report safely. Also in Yemen, journalists feel at risk every time they go out to report. Some media organisations like Al Jazeera have started to employ the services of security companies, with the objective of making risk assessments, providing advice and sometimes providing security on the

Even though it is difficult to get exact figures, it is estimated that less than 5% of journalists in the Middle East receive any kind of training on safety and protection. One possible reason, among many others, is the lack of a journalism safety culture in the region. In some instances media organisations insure their equipment but not their journalists. Training must begin within the media organisations before the journalists leave for the field. They should receive all the necessary information about security on the ground before the trip, about equipment protection and about legal issues. Training needs to be provided regularly in order to be effective. Currently, efforts to raise awareness on media safety and to provide training are very much fragmented. Media organisations need to coordinate efforts and realise that it is in their best interests to address this issue as a matter of priority.


One obstacle to the spread of safety training is that the cost of a training course can be prohibitive for most Arab media, with the price being in the region of several thousand dollars per person. International media development organisations could clearly help with some funding. Equally important are efforts being made by different organisations to disseminate safety information to reporters in war zones through new formats, such as mobile phone applications, which will also include tips for citizen journalists. It is not just the courses that can be expensive, but also the protective equipment necessary in conflict or war zones. There have been many instances of protective equipment only being available for the foreign reporters and not for the local media crew staff. This has led to international media organisations being accused of treating their local staff and collaborators as second class citizens. On the other hand, it has been noted that in some instances, reporters, both foreign and Arab, have simply refused to wear any protection in a display of an outdated concept of pride. Worse still, sometimes journalists themselves just don’t take the issue of safety seriously and ignore the training courses available to them. One important aspect in the safety of journalists while working in dangerous contexts is whether or not they should carry identifying and protective gear. There are arguments for and against, but consensus has not yet been 28

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reached. Ideally, visible gear or identification should make the work of journalists easier in demonstrations, riots or even in war situations, but there are many examples that show the opposite. In Jordan, police and the journalists´ union in July 2011 agreed on media workers wearing orange vests when covering demonstrations. But when the demonstration started, journalists became the first victims of police brutality and were beaten up since they were the easiest to identify. On other occasions, wearing some recognisable gear has helped journalists to be protected by the people. Ultimately, it seems that the best option is for the individual journalists to decide whether or not to wear visible protection. Another way to protect journalists is by providing those under serious threat to their lives with safe houses usually outside their countries. There are already examples of that in many countries, but the scope of this initiative is quite small. They are difficult and costly to run, and providing refuge to foreign journalists often involves overcoming legal obstacles in the host country. Protected journalists need to be provided with a livelihood as well, and that is never easy to secure. Another aspect that makes this scheme difficult is that the places available are far fewer than the demand or need, and hard choices have to be made among journalists who in most cases are in very dangerous situations. The threats to journalists nowadays do not only come from within the government and its security forces, but also

from other non-state groups, such as radical Islamists, tribal leaders, mafia groups, armed militias or influential businessmen. It is imperative to bring down the existing level of impunity through the rule of law, which comes together with democratisation, and to sensitise the policing and judiciary systems towards journalists’ safety. By virtue of their job journalists are on the frontline, not as participants, as some see them, but as observers. And they don’t do it by choice in many cases. They need to be protected. As a closing note on the subject of safety, it is worth mentioning the advent of social media and its rising importance in the provision of information on conflicts and revolutions. This has brought new safety issues to the forefront. The first is the way in which this large number of citizen journalists can be protected, in the same way journalists are in situations of war and conflict. The second issue is the security of information that goes through the new media such as the different internet channels. Government and security forces are now becoming more skilled at blocking and manipulating digital content and the media sector would do well to develop some guidelines and initiatives relating to the protection of the digital flow of information and the physical integrity of some of the most visible cyberjournalists, such as bloggers. Some of these citizen journalists and bloggers are providing the best and in some cases the only information about places like Syria now, or Egypt during the revolution.


RECOMMENDATIONS SAFETY AND RIGHTS

Safety training should be prioritised for journalists covering countries in situations of war, conflict or mass protests, in particular for filmmakers and photographers, who are being specifically targeted by government security forces. International pressure must be put on Arab governments to end the culture of impunity surrounding the death of journalists. UN agencies, together with other stakeholders, could force governments to develop a culture of respect for journalists´ lives. Media organisations should publicise internal safety guidelines and government regulations constantly among its employees. New formats and practical ways must be found to disseminate safety information as widely as possible, including to citizen journalists. International media development organisations to provide funds for safety courses and equipment and to coordinate efforts for better provision of training. Creation of a pool of Arabic safety trainers with updated material, customised courses, making them available to any media organisation or journalists who demand them. There need to be concerted efforts to establish legal frameworks and mechanisms at institutional and global levels to improve the safety and security of journalists. Security forces and the judiciary need to be educated on journalists’ safety, their missions and their rights. Best international practices could be adapted such as the agreement between the London police and the press association on how to handle journalists in demonstrations and riots. Death threats and other major safety issues faced by journalists to be reported prominently by the media. Provision of safe houses in other countries for journalists under threat needs to be considered even if it is legally complex.

LIBYA: Reporters take cover as the Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel, where numerous foreign journalists were based, came under attack in the Libyan capital Tripoli on August 25, 2011. AFP

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New guidelines and initiatives to protect social media, including the security of digital information and the safety of bloggers.


INTERVIEW WITH

Rasha Abdulla, Dr.

Associate Professor, The American University in Cairo, February 2012

Q. With the collapse of the authoritarian regime of Mubarak, what is the legal framework under which the Egyptian media is currently operating?

A. Nothing has changed with regards to the legal framework under which the media operate in Egypt. The Egyptian Radio and Television Union operates under its own charter, and the rest of the media are subject to the Press Law and articles of the Penal code that make it possible for the government to prosecute journalists for vague accusations such as “spreading false news” or “disturbing national peace”. Following Mubarak’s fall, the Ministry of Information was abolished, only to be reinstated shortly afterwards. Licenses for new satellite television stations were also granted for a few months 30

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before the Supreme Council of Military Forces ordered a halt to any new licenses.

Q. Is it realistic to think that journalistic training can be provided to the hundreds or thousands of citizens who have been engaging in citizen journalism during the Egyptian revolution?

A. No, and I don’t think they all want it or seek it. However, some citizen journalists have proven invaluable to the documentation of the revolution and to revealing aspects of police and army brutality that

otherwise would’ve remained uncovered. They have shown a natural talent and sense for journalism. And these could be trained once the situation in Egypt is calmer and life regains a sense of normalcy for these activists.

Q. Do you think there is enough desire and strength to change institutional culture in the Egyptian media among the journalists, academics and activists, after so many years under one authoritarian system?

A. Some news and media institutions in Egypt can be


reformed and strengthened; these are mainly the private, semi-independent ones. The government institutions mostly need to be revamped or rebuilt from scratch. The ERTU building houses about 43,000-46,000 employees, the majority of which are not needed. The institution can be operated by 5,000 professionals. There needs to be a filtering process for the real talents in this institution, who can be trained and salvaged. The rest need to be given early retirement plans and eventually phased out over a number of years.

Q. How can one manage the transition between a very “politicised¨ media to another one more professional, or how do you turn “activist” journalists into professional journalists?

A. For the institutions, you turn them into professional ones by hiring professional managers and professional staff, who would undergo a series of training programmes by top media professionals. You bring in media personnel who understand that they serve the public, the viewers, not the state or the regime. For the activist journalists, as I said above, they are now too engaged in their activism. But when things are calmer, those who wish to become professional journalists 31

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can then be trained though grants provided to NGOs or professional media centres.

Q. What measures, if any, can be taken to protect physically the activity of the many people who took out to the streets in Egypt to gather and disseminate information about the events during the revolution?

A. There are basic pieces of advice that many of these activists have learned the hard way, through going through the experience. But again, NGOs can provide training courses on these matters (and the professional media entities should be providing these courses to their media personnel). Right now, small groups of activists sometimes do this on a small, informal level. It may be a good idea to construct websites with such information that at least activists can have access to if they don’t have access to more proper training.


PARTICIPANTS’ BIOGRAPHIES (In alphabetical order) Rasha Abdulla,

is an associate professor at the American University in Cairo, where she teaches journalism and mass communication. She is an international consultant on journalism training to leading media development organisations. Abdulla has written extensively on the use of new media and technologies in the Arab world and on freedom of expression, particularly as it relates to internet-related communication. She has worked as a radio announcer at Radio Cairo’s Overseas Department and the Local European Service.

Magda Abu-Fadil,

who brings years of experience as a foreign correspondent and editor with international news organisations such as Agence France-Presse and United Press International, is director of Media Unlimited. She headed the Journalism Training Programme at the American University of Beirut, which she founded. She wrote for Arab dailies Asharq Al-Awsat and Al Riyadh, Washington based Defense News, was Washington bureau chief of Events magazine, and was Washington correspondent for London-based The 32

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Middle East magazine. AbuFadil served as director of the Institute for Professional Journalists at the Lebanese American University. She taught journalism at her alma mater, American University in Washington, D.C.

Ayman Bardawil,

is programmes manager at the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. He has been working in the media since 1996. In 2009, he cofounded the Karama Human Rights Film Festival in Jordan. Bardawil previously worked for the Jordanian Royal Film Commission and Community Media Network. He has also served as the Director of Al-Quds Educational TV and produced several programmes there, including the animation of the first Palestinian version of Sesame Street. He cofounded and managed the Palestinian Ma›an News Agency (MNA).

Guy Berger,

is UNESCO’s director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, based in Paris. Between 1994 and 2011 he was head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, South Africa. Berger has published almost

50 books, monographs and chapters in books, and delivered more than 200 public presentations. He has also worked in newspapers, magazines and television, and as a trainer in mainstream and community media.

Said Essoulami,

is director of the Londonbased Centre for Media Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa (CMFMENA). Essoulami worked for 11 years as director of the MENA department at ARTICLE 19, the international organisation on freedom of expression. He is also the president of the Arab Freedom of Information Network and the coordinator of the Moroccan National Freedom of Information Coalition.

Jan Keulen,

is the director of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. Before joining the DCMF in April 2011, he was the programme director of the Dutch NGO Free Voice. He has worked for 20 years as a foreign correspondent for several Dutch media, including 12 years reporting from the Middle East. Keulen has also taught journalism at the Rijks Universiteit Groningen (1998 - 2004).


During his time at Free Voice, he founded the programme “Investing in the Future” for journalists and media lawyers in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen.

Daoud Kuttab,

is a Palestinian journalist and media activist. He is currently the director of Community Media Network (CMN), a non-profit media organisation dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. Kuttab taught journalism at Princeton University. He established and presided over the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University and, before that, the Jerusalem Film Institute. He is a regular contributor to several Middle Eastern and American newspapers, and has produced documentaries and children programmes.

Ayman Mhanna,

is the director of the Beirutbased Samir Kassir Foundation and the SKeyes Centre for Media and Cultural Freedom. He also lectures at Beirut’s Saint-Joseph Université. Before joining the Samir Kassir Foundation, Mhanna worked for the National Democratic Institute, supervising local and international election observation missions and political process monitoring initiatives. He is the president of the youth branch of the Democratic Renewal Movement, a liberal crosssectarian Lebanese political party. 33

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Roula Mikhael,

is a journalist and the director and co-founder of the Maharat Foundation, a Beirut-based media development organisation. Mikhael has 18 years of experience in journalism and in human rights advocacy. She is also the president and co-founder of the Lebanese Center for Civic Education, an organisation that promotes democracy, human rights and active citizenship. Mikhael writes regularly for An Nahar, one of Lebanon’s main daily newspapers.

Mohammed al-Qadhi,

is a freelance Yemeni journalist working for leading international media in the coverage of local politics, including Aljazeera International, Bloomberg, France 24, and others. He is the Yemen correspondent for the Al-Riyadh newspaper and for Abu Dhabi’s The National. Al-Qadhi has also provided media development consultancy services to international organisations and has participated in media training activities in several countries. He teaches English language, literature and translation at Sana›a University.

Hassan Rachidi,

is an advisor to the Doha Centre for Media Freedom and a senior producer at Al Jazeera. He was the channel’s former Morocco bureau chief. Rachidi has worked in broadcast journalism for more than

30 years. He has done war reporting from Afghanistan, Iraq and several African countries. Before joining Al Jazeera he served as director of programmes at Abu Dhabi TV and as chief editor of the Arabic service of Dutch broadcaster RNW.

Nadia al-Sakkaf,

is the editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times newspaper since 2005. She previously worked as the spokesperson for the UK charity Oxfam in Yemen. Al Sakkaf is an activist in the field of development and gender issues in her home country. She has led efforts to promote the participation of women in politics, including the publication of “Breaking the Stereotype”, a book on the Yemeni women’s experience as political candidates in elections.

Faisal Salih,

is a journalist and the programme director at Teeba Press. He previously worked as a journalist for several Sudanese newspapers, the Emirati Akhbar AlArab newspaper, as well as serving as the Sudan correspondent for the Emirati Al-Etihad newspaper, the Qatari Al-Arab newspaper. From 2004 till 2006, Salih served as the editor-inchief of Sudanese daily Aladwaa. In addition to his work at Teeba Press, Salih holds the position of parttime lecturer in a number of Sudanese universities


where he teaches media and journalism studies and supervises training programmes for journalists.

Biljana Tatomir,

is deputy director of Programme Strategy and Policy of International Media Support, a Danish media development organisation active in over 40 countries. Between 1997 and 2011 she served as the deputy director of the Open Society Foundations’ Media Programme, overseeing the policy and advocacy, as well as the media development portfolio of the programme. Since 2003 she has been particularly involved in the Middle East and North Africa focusing on freedom of expression, media development and civil society issues.

Leon Willems,

was appointed director of Free Press Unlimited in May 2011. Before this, he served as Director of Press Now. In 2008, Willems initiated the Radio Darfur project on behalf of Press Now. Before joining Press Now, Willems worked three years for the UN for setting up independent radio stations in Southern Sudan. He also served in a variety of positions at the Dutch public broadcaster IKON. He is a board member of Ghetto Radio, a station set up to allow residents of the slums of Nairobi, Kenya to express themselves with dignity.   34

Report Experts Meeting

Supporting Arab media in transitional and (post)conflict contexts


The Doha Centre for Media Freedom,

is a Qatari non-profit organization working for press freedom and quality journalism in Qatar, the Arab region and the world. It does so through direct assistance to journalists in need, through research, outreach activities, media literacy and training projects. For more information on the Centre and its activities, please visit:

www.dc4mf.org


Supporting Arab media in transitional and (post) conflict contexts