Mideast journo visit and discussion topic ideas

In anticipation of our meeting with Mideast journalists Feb. 10, we did some backgrounding in class Monday on the journalists, their news organizations and the current state of the press in their nations.

Please share with the others in your group (via email, Google Docs, whatever) what you found about the journalist(s) and nations you researched.

Group 1: Brian Taylor, Spencer Vasey, Heather Kilby
Algeria, Egypt and Jordan journalists

Group 2: Avery Gregurich, Sara Campillo, Hayleigh Syens
Iraqi and Lebanese journalists

Group 3: Amanda Goodwin, Jennifer Gardner, Ariella Miesner
Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Group 4: Marissa Mumford, Hannah Bruneman, Linley Sanders, Allison Trebacz
Palestinian Territories

Group 5: Maddie Wittenberg, Kristen Bramhall, Scott Huff
Yemen and Tunisia

Here is the list of journalists and their bios. It also includes some details of the trip.

Based on your research, what ideas for discussion topics or questions do you have for our session on the 10th? Feel free to share anything compelling that you learned about the journalists you researched. The goal here is to come to the Feb. 10 session informed enough to have a lively discussion and ask good questions.

Kristen Bramhall, Scott Huff and Maddi Wittenberg: Will you please work together to background the journalists from Yemen and Tunisia, and share what you learn with each other?

  1. Look up where the countries are on a map.
  2. Do a quick search for the current state of those countries, recent news, etc.
  3. Find what you can about the journalists and their news organizations.
  4. Read what the Committee to Protect Journalists has to say about the countries’ press environment.
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14 responses to “Mideast journo visit and discussion topic ideas

  1. Avery Gregurich

    Quick Observations:

    Iraq-161 journalists killed since 1992. Second deadliest behind Syria.

    Lebanon-9 journalists killed since 1992. Has spill over of violence from Syria. Recently a bombing in Lebanon killing the Minister of Finance.

  2. The Lebanese journalist coming is the head of the news department of Future TV. This section strikes me as CNN-like. He was quoted in an article from May 2012 about showing violent images on television in Lebanon. I guess over in the Middle East, the news tends to show much more violent images than in the US. Even though he talked about this a while ago, I think it could be an interesting topic to discuss the differences between what is the norm to show on TV news.

  3. I think I already posted this but it’s not showing up so I will try again.

    Egypt:
    3rd deadliest country for the press, lots are arrested and detained by the Egyptian government on a fairly regular basis. There is also a huge problem right now with government censorship of the press. The Egyptian revolution is the main topic of news currently, and it has been ongoing for quite a few years now.

    Topics:
    -coverage of the Egyptian revolution, how has it changed as the government has changed hands
    -threat of government arrests, how does it influence what you are going to print
    -government censorship, how much influence does the government really have on what information is getting to the people

  4. Lebanon:
    Lebanon has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the region. The country served as a hub for international and local journalists covering the conflict in Syria, with many of them slipping across the Lebanese border into Syria to report.
    9 journalists killed since 1992.

    Iraq:
    It´s the deadliest nation for journalists.162 journalists killed since 1992.
    93 unsolved journalist murders, reflecting the world’s worst record of impunity.
    There are no independent news organizations in northern Iraq. There are dozen of newspapers printed daily and at least 4 major newspapers are openly backed by political parties, the problem is that there are ethical issues within the papers.

  5. Brian Taylor Carlson

    The Algerian journalist, Ms. Habiba Mahmoudi, is a story writer with the private Algerian TV station “Ennahar.”

    Algeria is located in N. Africa, between Libya and Morocco. The population is 38 million people and the country is the 10th largest country in the world by land area. The Algerian people speak Arabic and the country is 99% Islamic. Being a semi-presidential government.Algeria is ruled by both a president and a prime minister.

    Ms. Mahmoudi is a story writer for Ennahar Online, an Algerian newspaper run by journalists Anis Rahmani and Souad Assouz. Most of Ms. Mahmoudi’s articles were written between 2010 and 2011, with some articles going back as far as 2008. She has written a wide variety of articles, mostly about current political events and environmental issues.

    Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Boufeflika, has recently blocked newspapers and journalists from publishing about his health and policies. He imprisoned journalist Mohammad Benchicou for writing his biography and denouncing government corruption. Other journalists have been sent into exile. Journalists do not dig too deeply and are wary of the potential for violence. They must choose their words carefully and avoid inflammatory topics. For two decades, hundreds of local and international reporters have been targeted in Algeria by religious extremists.

    Topics: What is the current condition of freedom of the press in Algeria and is there any hope for improvement? Are women’s rights an issue for journalists? Are there any support networks in case things become too hot for reporters in the country? Do news topics undergo a process of censorship before being allowed readership by the population? Is there a constant fear of danger that accompanies the profession? What is the single-most drive that keeps you in the news reporting industry?

  6. Occupied Palestinian Territory: 12 journalists killed since 1992.

    In addition, airstrikes have targeted both journalists and media buildings. It could be interesting to find out how the media functions organizationally without a base.

  7. I found out quite a lot of interesting information that could lead to a controversial discussion. Aljazeera is based in Qatar and they provide pretty critical coverage of other nations, but they can’t be critical of Qatar or the ruling family. The journalists reportedly self-censor a lot so they don’t get in trouble because many of them are foreign and could lose their jobs-huge disparity in treatment of Qatari vs non-Qatari journalists.

    The journalist who is visiting is a member of the ruling family so I’d love to ask him about how the high concentration of media ownership in the ruling family affects the media coverage. Journalists aren’t allowed to criticize the gov. or living conditions yet they ruthlessly report on other countries which is a complete double standard.

    Possible questions:

    -Do you find it difficult to be an objective journalist when you are part of the ruling family that put the restrictive media laws in place in the late 1970s?
    -Has the introduction of western media ideal brought into Qatar by Northwestern University in 2008 opened up media coverage at all?
    -Why is Aljazeera so critical of foreign nations but not so much of the ruling family of Qatar?
    -What made you decide to become a journalist?
    -What is the most difficult topic you’ve had to cover as a journalist and blogger?
    -Have you ever not published something because you thought it was too controversial or could have gotten you in trouble with your family?
    -Do you think it’s ethical to restrict what journalists report on from court proceedings like the ones for the Villagio shopping mall fire?

  8. Jennifer Gardner

    I found out quite a lot of interesting information that could lead to a controversial discussion. Aljazeera is based in Qatar and they provide pretty critical coverage of other nations, but they can’t be critical of Qatar or the ruling family. The journalists reportedly self-censor a lot so they don’t get in trouble because many of them are foreign and could lose their jobs-huge disparity in treatment of Qatari vs non-Qatari journalists.

    The journalist who is visiting is a member of the ruling family so I’d love to ask him about how the high concentration of media ownership in the ruling family affects the media coverage. Journalists aren’t allowed to criticize the gov. or living conditions yet they ruthlessly report on other countries which is a complete double standard.

    Possible questions:

    -Do you find it difficult to be an objective journalist when you are part of the ruling family that put the restrictive media laws in place in the late 1970s?
    
-Has the introduction of western media ideal brought into Qatar by Northwestern University in 2008 opened up media coverage at all?
    
-Why is Aljazeera so critical of foreign nations but not so much of the ruling family of Qatar?
    
-What made you decide to become a journalist?

    -What is the most difficult topic you’ve had to cover as a journalist and blogger?
    
-Have you ever not published something because you thought it was too controversial or could have gotten you in trouble with your family?
    
-Do you think it’s ethical to restrict what journalists report on from court proceedings like the ones for the Villagio shopping mall fire?

  9. Mr. Alghamdi, Saudi Arabia:
    -You work in one of the most censored countries in the world. Have you ever had to sacrifice the truth about social or religious issues in your reporting in order to protect yourself from harm?
    -As a radio announcer, do you experience more or less journalistic freedom than a newspaper reporter in your country?

    Mr. Almasure, Libya:
    -There have been many instances in recent news of violence toward journalists in your country. What keeps you motivated to continue working in a profession where your life could be at risk?
    -What was it like working as a freelance journalist in Libya? How does that compare to your current profession?

  10. In the Palestinian Territories, the amount of imprisoned journalists have hit a record high of 232 in 2012. I would like to know why there is such a big jump in comparison to 2000 where the number was at 86. Is there any specific event or reason there is a peak in the amount of journalists in Palestinian prisons?
    Mr. Mohammed is a director at Ma’an news agency, which is considered the main source for independent news with over 3 million views per month. From what I see on their website, they mostly report on deadly bombings and attacks. It would be interesting to know what the news agencies do to keep their reporters safe in stories like these.

  11. Mr. Hassan Qasim
    Reporter Al-Ghad newspaper, Hayat FM Radio Station
    Jordan
    Population 6.5 million, Major language: Arabic, Major Religion: Islam

    I read that there is a ‘red line’ that journalists must not cross according to government regulations, what specific topics or ideas are not tolerated or would be crossing that line? Are there different guidelines for newspaper and radio? Are the guidelines too harsh on journalists? Do you feel the media should have more freedom? Why or why not? Have you ever encountered a story where you felt your job was at stake because of this ‘red line’? What was it about and why? Does King Abdullah’s political reform have anything to do with the regulations on the media?

    With less than half of your countries’ population having internet access (as of 2012) how does this affect your online readership of news? Last year the government blocked access to over 300 news websites in Jordan, how does censorship affect online media in your country?

    Are there regulations regarding discussing of religion on either media outlet that you are employed? Controversial backlash like we endure in the US?

  12. Egypt detained four Al Jazeera journalists in late December, accusing them of aiding a terrorist group. Journalists around the world have launched a #freeAJstaff movement on social media. Here’s some NYT background and an unsettling video.

  13. Kristen Bramhall

    Yemen:
    -Yemen is usually known as at the Yemen Republic, and is an arab country located in Western Asia.
    -Because of the low literacy rate, television is the primary source of news media. There are six free-to-air channels, and four of them are state owned.
    -Interestingly, only two Yemeni films have been produced.

    Mr. Abdulaziz Mohammed Yousef is the editor and chief of the Al-Shahed newspaper. It would be interesting to know how he deals with the low literacy rates in their country.

    Tunisia:
    -Tunisia is a small country in North Africa.
    – Between 1987 and 2007, the amount of independently-run magazines and newspapers exploded (they went from 91 to 200-some)
    – Although newspapers and other media are permitted to the right to publish opinions that dissent government opinions, these media are in small numbers.
    – Recently, a small number of private radio stations and television stations have been created.

    Ms. Amira Mohamed is a journalist for Radio Mosiaque. It would be interesting to know how her radio station approaches discussing governmental affairs.

  14. Mr. Khader M M Alzanoon works for WAFA News agency.
    I looked over the agency’s website, and noticed they had multiple links for social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I would be curious to know what the relationship between social media and news reporting is like in the Palestinian territories. Is it useful and helpful to get tips or to spread stories? If not, what is it’s primary use?

    I also found it quite obvious that a vast majority of reporting done in the Palestinian territories revolves around the conflict with Israel. I wonder how important it is for journalists to stay objective, or if it is simply expected that they will have a bias. They are in fact reporting for a Palestinian audience, so I would be curious to know how important it is for them to remain neutral and simply relate facts without intrusion of their own thoughts.

    I also noticed that Khader M M Alzanoon lives right in Gaza City and does much of his reporting on the conflict within the Gaza Strip. I find this type of reporting fascinating because it implies not just traveling to a zone of conflict or war, but actually living there. The reporting must be so much more personal when it deals with your home.

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