Ten FAQ's

Ten Frequently Asked Questions

1. There are many initiatives on media projects in the Middle East and North Africa. What makes this program unique?

Unlike many other strategies to promote independent journalism and to improve professional skills this strategy is not donor-driven. In 2005 CDFJ and Free Voice commissioned a substantial research into the situation of mid-career journalistic training and law & media in six Arab countries: Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. Participating local NGOs provided analysis of training needs based on a survey. The report, Investing in the Future, is the foundation of our program.

2. What are the direct effects of the program?

Journalists who receive training share their acquired knowledge with colleagues without conscious efforts, but also intentionally due to our strong Training of Trainers component. The Training of Trainers program will generate an Arab Media Community for Change. This will be a group of motivated radio, television, print and Internet journalists and media lawyers who will train colleagues and give good journalism and freedom of the press in the Arab world a boost.

3. How wide is the regional outreach of a participating journalist?  

A journalist working for a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 20,000 copies reaches usually many more than 20,000 people. Most newspapers are read by several people and articles are often read on the radio or republished on the Internet. Together the trained radio, television, Internet and print journalists will reach an audience of millions in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen.

4. Do Arab journalists feel the need for these trainings?  

Press syndicates and associations generally don't do enough to raise the professional qualifications of their members. Investing in the Future proved that media professionals and lawyers see the need for training in journalistic and media skills. Also there is a lack on English and foreign language skills, which prevents them to keep abreast of new developments in their profession. They also suffer from a lack of legal networks to defend them and to confront dictatorial regimes restricting freedom of expression. There is also an urgent need for training on international human rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression.

5. Why does the program focus on these countries?

A Media Community for Change is feasible in Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen because these countries have a certain degree of freedom of the press and they have active media NGOs.

6. How does the program stimulate development of democracy and civil society participation in the Arab world?

Good, professional journalism is indispensable for building an open and democratic society. The training program focuses on media, law and freedom of the press.

7. Why no training is provided on new media and Internet developments?

The program foresees the participation of print, radio, television and Internet journalists. But in the first phase priority is given to developing general professional journalistic skills and issues, like interview techniques, finding journalistic topics, writing news stories and journalistic ethics. These basic journalistic skills are also indispensable for Internet journalism.

8. What are the costs per trainee?

A training of four days in the region for one person costs € 1775, including international travel and lodging.

9. Who guarantees that a trained journalist will not switch career and accepts a better-paid job at a company?

Nobody is able to guarantee this. The ultimate goal is that journalists raise their professional skills and legal awareness. When a trained journalist switches his career the benefit is that his knowledge will be spread among other fields of the society.

10. A trained journalist risks getting into conflict with his government. What is the use supporting this?

Change doesn’t come about without resistance and conflicts. The goal is to provide media professionals with all necessary prerequisites to make balanced decisions in their work. If a journalist gets into conflict, trained lawyers should provide him with judicial assistance. For example, all Jordanian media organizations refused to support Jihad Momani, editor-in- chief of weekly Shihan, as he got fired for re-publishing the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. CDFJ provided Momani with legal aid. Our partners and media professionals confirm the urgent need to improve the legal networks protecting journalists.