Heinrich Böll Foundation Funds IPJ Workshop for Iraqi Media at LAU

Journalists’ safety in war zones, political considerations and common experiences between Iraqi and Lebanese media permeated a workshop in media skills organized by LAU’s Institute for Professional Journalists for 15 Iraqi print, broadcast and online reporters/editors at the Beirut campus.

The workshop featured Mona Ziade, from the Lebanon country office of the World Bank and a veteran editor/correspondent who discussed the difference between news and opinion; Lebanese daily As-Safir editor Zuheir Hawari who talked about the art of interviewing; pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat correspondent/editor Sana El Jack who tackled feature story writing; IPJ director Magda Abu-Fadil who underlined the importance of media ethics; LBCI TV’s anchor and talk show host Shada Omar (an LAU alumna) and producer Marwan Matni who elaborated on broadcast news; and, Lebanese University professor Mahmoud Tarabay who touched on cultivating sources, online journalism and ways to improve one’s writing style.

The event September 26–October 5, 2005 was funded by the Berlin-based Heinrich Böll Foundation and drew 15 journalists from media such as Nawa Radio, Kurdish satellite TV, Al Diyar TV, Azzaman newspaper, Voices of Iraq News agency, Yanabeeh magazine, Al Jeel magazine, Iraqioun news agency, As-Sabah newspaper and the Baghdad correspondent of the Washington Post, to name a few.

The first five days were spent at LAU, where participants engaged in lengthy discussions about whether journalism was worth pursuing as a career in a war-torn coutnry, how reporters cover tragedy and bloodshed, how Iraqi journalists often publish under pseudonyms to avoid being targeted and the dangers of mixing spot news with editorials and analysis.

The Institute held a ceremony September 30 to hand out certificates to the participants in the Irwin Hall Faculty Lounge. It was attended by President Joseph Jabbra, the dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at the Beirut campus, Dr. Samira Aghacy, Ms. Layla Al-Zubaidi, representing the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and Mr. Richard Asbeck, the German press attache in Lebanon.

Over the weekened, the Iraqi journalists, who hailed from Baghdad, Mosul and Dohuk visited the historic Roman ruins in Baalbeck, the Jeita grotto and the ancient port city of Byblos of Phoenician alphabet fame. They also made a stop at LAU’s Byblos campus.

The last three days of the workshop were spent visiting different Lebanese media organizations. The Iraqi journalists enjoyed touring LBC TV’s newsroom and program studios, and talking to senior editorial personnel. They also appreciated a tour of the leading Lebanese Arabic-language daily An-Nahar’s building and a meeting with editor-in-chief Ghassan Tueni and key editorial staff.

Another visit targeted the joint venture Lebanese-Iraqi TV station Al Sumariya whose news director May Kahale is a veteran journalist and served as media advisor to former Lebanese president Elias Hrawi.

On their last day, the Iraqi journalists visited Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency and Radio Lebanon and met with their directors, and the independent daily Sada Al Balad for discussions with editor-in-chief Bechara Charbel and managing editor Munir Al Khatib, also an LAU alumnus.

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