|The AFP foundation is launching a journalism workshop in Lebanon. Robert Holloway, director of the AFP foundation, presents the program and explains the challenges facing what is known as ethical journalism.|
This 2-year project aims to introduce, first among journalists and then among all citizens, the idea that the media can contribute to a country’s development. The goal is for journalists and readers to understand that the articles written in the press and the programs broadcast on television can have a significant impact on public debate.
The AFP Foundation will train journalists and citizens on issues such as poverty, illiteracy, infectious diseases, and the environment…
Yes, this is a long-term, preliminary project. We will train journalists and it will then be up to them to organize seminars and workshops with all sorts of people: elected local officials, business leaders, private citizens, children; to go in schools, to create blogs (online discussion platforms). The AFP Foundation’s goal is to raise awareness among the Lebanese concerning the opportunity offered by the media to contribute to development.
This project is the continuation of a previous program conducted by the AFP Foundation in 2008.
It is the result of two other projects conducted in Lebanon in November 2008 and July 2009. The United Nations requested the AFP foundation conduct workshops on what they termed “peace journalism”. Twenty four Lebanese journalists participated in this original workshop.
In a country with 17 recognized religions, the method created at the time was an efficient tool for conflict prevention.
Exactly. In Lebanon, many of political parties represent these different religious groups. Communities are deeply divided and mistrust each other. In certain regions where people do not want to go to certain places … during the workshops, links were established between those who previously ignored each other. In 2008 and 2009, 24 journalists found themselves working together. This opened communication between them and trust was established.
But isn’t it illusory to bring together people of different backgrounds, forging links between communities, with this method?
No. Take the issue of environmental protection. People throw garbage into the sea without any processing whatsoever and the sea is therefore very polluted. Journalists can form small groups of Sunnis, Shiites, Christians; they can talk with fishermen, with restaurant owners who go to the market and want to buy fish. By handling the subject from various points of view, journalists show that each village faces the same problem and this problem can only be solved if all the communities come together.
As soon as we can acknowledge that the Other has the same problems as we do, we have already taken the first step towards recognizing the other as a brother or a sister, rather than an opponent. This is the program’s long-term goal. This is how it helps prevent conflicts and I am very grateful that the Fondation Chirac and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs have agreed to provide significant financial support.
The Média-Liban project
Project duration: two years
Goals: to show the media’s role in the emergence of a civic culture and improvement of public debate, improve the coverage of topics such as poverty, illiteracy, infectious diseases and the environment, improve the general public’s view of media and their influence, draw the attention of policy makers and elected officials to the role of media in good governance in Lebanon.
Target audience: press and media leaders; Lebanese citizens, politicians and state officials, private businesses
Activities: seminars for press and media leaders; 3-day workshops for journalists
Monitoring: implementation of newspaper Watchdog in Beirut to evaluate progress on how development issues are covered
March 4, 2011: Meeting of the Fondation Chirac Prize Committee of Experts
April 12, 2011: launch of the Media for Development project in Beirut
April 13, 2011: Meeting with Mario Giro, recipient of the 2010 Fondation Chirac Prize
May 16, 2011: Meeting of the Fondation Chirac Prize Committee of Experts
September 15, 2011: Meeting of the Fondation Chirac Prize Jury
November 4, 2011: Award Ceremony for the Fondation Chirac Prize
New General Delegate for the Prize
Bernard Vatier has accepted the Fondation Chirac Board’s offer to become General Delegate for the Prize for Conflict Prevention. Founding member of the Fondation Chirac, lawyer, former President of the Paris Bar, Bernard Vatier is at the head of the Prize’s Committee of Experts since March 2011.