Journalism Against the Grain: Covering a Divided Middle East
June 20, 2015 @ George Mason University
About the Workshop
"Journalism Against the Grain: Covering a Divided Middle East” was hosted by the Arab Studies Institute (ASI) on June 20th at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. The workshop aimed to chart new territory in our discussion of journalism in/on the MENA region. To do so, ASI brought together interlocutors whose work exemplifies the interrogation of prescribed journalistic modes and exceptional critique of the way things are typically done in highly institutionalized mainstream journalism. The inaugural workshop of “The Media Project” brought this experience, expertise, and exceptional quality to the conference.
The panels at the Workshop addressed several themes:
1) Reporting Revolution
2) Reporting Conflict/Civil War
3) Back to Basics: Impartiality/Partisanship/Advocacy
4) The Regional/Western Media Divide
5) Imperial Journalism/Power and Reporting
6) Citizen Journalism: Opportunity and/or Calamity?
Each of the participants was asked to consider and reflect on the following points
a) Identifying Shortcomings in Journalistic practice on your topic.
b) Identify Examples of stellar work that go against the grain on your topic.
c) What would critical revolutionary journalism look like in practice on your topic?
Saturday, June 20, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Set-Up and Breakfast
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Introduction of Participants
10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Introduction to ASI Networks/Projects Bassam Haddad
10:20 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. General Discussion of Purpose and Goals Adel Iskandar and Malihe Razazan
11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Coffee Break
10:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Presentations (See Presentation Schedule Below)
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Presentations (See Presentation Schedule Below)
3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Coffee Break
3:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Closing Roundtable: All Speakers & Participants
Back to Basics: Impartiality, Partisanship and Advocacy
This panel brings together reporters who will grapple with the mantras of journalism and how they apply to conditions in the Middle East. Objectivity, impartiality, watchdog role, accuracy, newsworthiness etc are all terms bandied around to describe the foundation of reporting. Are they still of import? Are they abided by? Do they still matter in coverage? Do they embellish and improve content or do they decontextualize? How seriously do they factor into the way we comprehend the region and how should we approach these if we are interested in a justice-oriented journalism from and on the greater Middle East?
Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Moderator: Adel Iskandar
Never the Twain Shall Meet? Regional/Western Media Divides
Middle East being a region of immense strategic importance for much of the world, Western news agencies invest significant funds to covering it. Additionally, some of the earliest international media where western news organizations reporting to the Middle East(e.g.BBC Empire Radio Arabic and Radio Bari from Italy in the 1930s, Radio Monte Carlo etc.) Today, media coverage of MENA in the west Is rife with problems—mischaracterizations, misconceptions, bias, self-serving, self-interested etc. Alternatively, some of the coverage in the region itself is also informed by both ignorance of and animosity towards all that is western. Occasionally it seems as if there are vastly different media milieus. How do we begin to reason with this divergence? How do western-regional relations affect media coverage? How do we begin to bridge the gap by offering correctives to western coverage and regional journalism alike?
Kelly Golnoush Niknejad
Moderator: Malihe Razazan
All That Leads Bleeds: Covering Revolutions and Conflicts
With more than four active wars, continued Israeli occupation, the rise of radical Islamist militant groups, rampant authoritarianism, widespread sectarian divisions, revolutions that have been hijacked, have devolved or been militarized, and other challenges, conflict and war has come to define peoples lives in the region with increasing regularity over the past half decade. More than any other time in the region’s history, its representation is defined by revolutions, conflicts, and war. Moreso than ever before, reporters in the region are covering more carnage, displacement, and disparity than any other one region. How do journalists grapple with the many and increasing faultlines in the region? How do they manage their day to day decisions about coverage? How do they mindfully and compassionately inform publics worldwide about these struggles?
Moderator: Adel Iskandar
Widening the Lens: Reporting for All
While there is much that needs to happen to coverage of the Middle East to render it more holistic, contextually-sound, justice oriented, and bound by principled commitment to the human stories it purportedly speaks for. How do we widen the frame of analysis on the region? What are the missing stories? What subjects and publics need to brought into the conversation? What tools and techniques can expand the scope of reporting and to address the blindspots of journalism in/on the region? From gender rights and technology to media laws and the environment, where does journalism on the Middle East need to go from here?
Moderator: Malihe Razazan
NEXT CONFIRMED EVENT:
Workshop II (June 3 & 4, 2016)
"Digital Action in the Middle East and North Africa"
Location: American University in Beirut
Point Person: Adel Iskandar