Diversity addressed by the media in the Middle East
Calendrier : December 2016 – December 2017 / Budget global : €290,000
Diversity awareness is a major political challenge nowadays. The media, via high-quality and professional news, plays a key role in fostering conditions favourable to dialogue.
From February to October 2017, the Naseej project – ‘Naseej’ meaning ‘weaving’ in Arabic – looked into the way in which the media deals with religious and ethnic issues, in order to contribute to maintaining a balanced debate and diffusing inter-community and inter-faith tension in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Carried out in partnership with the Adyan Foundation, the project began with an appraisal of how diversity-related issues are currently being dealt with in 33 Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian media outlets. This consisted in cataloguing the articles and reports dealing directly or indirectly with this subject, in order to analyse their content in terms of terminology, lexical field, cultural references or stereotypes. This study was used as the basis for three workshops run with journalists and chief editors in partnership with the SKeyes Center of Lebanon (Samir Kassir Foundation).
Via these workshops, the Iraqi, Lebanese and Syrian media outlets were made aware of the issue of ethnic and religious pluralism in a personalised manner. Targeting the chief editors and influential journalists, the objective was to ensure that the recommendations made in the study are taken into account in future editorial content produced by these media outlets. The participants also highlighted the importance of this subject.
In the context of everyday life, we don’t think about the repercussions of our work on society. Sharing experiences is vital and this study enabled us to become aware of the stumbling blocks that are to be avoided if we don’t want to add fuel to the fire.
Montadhar Naser Khadem, chief editor of Alaam Al Jadid (Iraq)
A prize awarded to the best articles on diversity
In order to promote the production of content, the Naseej Price was awarded to an article or report on the issue of ethnic and religious pluralism in the three countries concerned. Among the 45 articles received, the top prize was awarded to Safaa Khalaf, an Iraqi journalist in exile in Beirut due to death threats in her own country, for an article on Mosul, published in Assafir Al Arabi. The second prize was awarded to the Egyptian journalist Souad Abo Ghazey for an article published in Akad News, which looks at the reintegration of Yazidi women who had been held captive by Daesh. In order to ensure widespread distribution, the best ten articles were published in Arabic, French and English on the CFI website and relayed on social networks.
The closing event of the project in Beirut brought together over fifty participants, including journalists who were nominees for the Naseej Prize. These fifteen or so journalists come from Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco. For two days, the participants discussed, with their colleagues and various experts, the influence of regional and sectarian conflicts in the media and how diversity is dealt with.
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