Specialized Units to be Established in Media Outlets

June 20, 2010

By Thameen Kheetan AMMAN – Six media outlets in three Arab countries will this year witness the establishment of specialised units for investigative journalism with the aid of regional and international media support organisations. The Amman-based Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) network and the Washington-based International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) announced on Thursday that they will offer a number of training courses on in-depth reporting skills for journalists in Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, starting in March. Involving practical training in the field, the courses are “part of plans to enforce this type of journalism and ensure its continuity in the Arab world”, ARIJ and the ICFJ said in a joint statement, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times. The one-year project, which will commence next month in Jordan and the West Bank before moving to the Egyptian capital Cairo in September, aims to train reporters on the basics and ethics of investigative journalism that tackles issues of public interest according to ARIJ’s strategy, which was detailed in a specialised manual released by the network last year. The journalists will also obtain experience by conducting investigations on issues such as the environment, healthcare, labour and women’s rights, the statement noted. Lebanese journalist and former Associated Press Riyadh bureau chief Donna Abu Nasr will conduct the training in Jordan and Egypt, while another ARIJ coach, yet to be appointed, will be in charge of the project in the Palestinian territories. “Each investigative unit is going to be made up of several reporters, who will have to come up with story ideas during the coming period,” she told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday, adding that the choice of issues is “open as long as it is investigative”. Abu Nasr, who is now on sabbatical from AP, stressed that the project has to be sustainable. “We would like each unit to stay there and continue to work after I leave,” she pointed out. Abu Nasr will conduct the training at Al Arab Al Yawm daily, and the Farah Al Nas and Al Balad radio stations in the Kingdom, as well as in the Cairo-based Al Misri Al Yawm daily and the Egyptian On TV satellite channel. Salameh Darawi, an editor at Al Arab Al Yawm, highlighted the importance of encouraging local journalists to pursue the track of investigative journalism. “Our newspaper is part of the Jordanian media, which needs to develop this kind of reporting because it affects people’s lives,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday, noting that corruption cases and economic mega-projects are among issues that need to be investigated in the country. In the West Bank, the Maan news agency will also witness the establishment of an investigative unit as part of ICFJ’s Knight International Fellowships. In the statement, ARIJ Executive Director Rana Sabbagh voiced hope that the network could implement the project in its other countries of operation: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and Iraq. Since its establishment in 2005, ARIJ has offered training to more than 300 Arab journalists and published over 80 investigative reports in several media outlets in the region. JordanTimes19 February 2010

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