Fourth Forum of the Arab Women’s Summit — “Arab Women & The Media”, February 1-3, 2002 - Abu Dhabi

Globalization of the Media: A Bicultural Woman’s View

— by Magda Abu-Fadil

1. Need for understanding and balanced information on both sides:

We need more media that can understand our cultural backgrounds and societal needs on both sides of the cultural divide — i.e. those that strike a balance between accurate information and understanding of the story’s background.

All too often reporters are parachuted into a country to cover a hot story without having solid grounding in the subject. This applies to Arabs as well as Americans and Europeans. I’ve seen it happen in many countries and we need to rectify that.

U.S. and European correspondents often arrive on Arab shores with no notion of what’s happening in the country or the region, little or no knowledge of Arabic (or French) and expecting everyone to understand them in English, for example.

Some don’t do their homework and don’t read about the background that led to recent conflicts, as if they exist in a vacuum. It’s a major failure on their part.

An American reporter I know was too scared to enter Tripoli (Lebanon) during one of the major firefights of the Lebanese civil war, took a taxi to the edge of the city, saw some exchanges from a distance, ran back to Beirut, filed the story with a Tripoli dateline and proceeded to detail the raging battle which he never really saw. There are many such stories from all over the world.

That’s a great disservice to the readers, viewers, listeners and browsers.

Download the speech (PDF): English, Arabic

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