Arab female journalists face up to industry challenges at Riyadh seminar

Some of the participants at the seminar in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Updated 28 November 2019

Arab female journalists face up to industry challenges at Riyadh seminar

  • New reporters should be trained for a full year before starting work to give them a better understanding of the job, Jordanian participant suggests
  • One issue raised was the reluctance of employers to hire journalists who have young children 

RIYADH: Ways of overcoming some of the challenges and prejudices faced by female Arab journalists topped the agenda at a Saudi conference on Wednesday.

Women writers from throughout the Middle East and North Africa region gathered at the headquarters of the Saudi Press Agency in Riyadh for the third session of the Arab Female Journalists seminar.

 Shoura Council member and honorary guest, Nora Al-Shaaban, joined delegates in hailing the increased presence of women in the media sector, but said: “Female journalists have ambitions and it’s their right to achieve them.”

Yemeni journalist Ahlam Abdul Raqeeb participated in a panel — moderated by secretary-general of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), Dr. Fareed Ayar — which looked at the professional obstacles that Arab women journalists were sometimes confronted with and how to address them.

Conference delegates were told that Abdul Raqeeb was arrested in Yemen for six days because of her work and was constantly threatened. She escaped her home country with her children after contacting Saudi authorities a few years ago.

In Sudan, more women were being hired into leading roles, said Saeeda Hamat, a Sudanese journalist with the Sudan News Agency.

“Sudanese women hold executive positions in ministries as deputy ministerial advisers, and with the December revolution in Sudan, we now have female ministers. We are progressing. We do not have any obstacles in front of us. Do not cry over spilled milk and stop looking to the past but toward the future,” she told the gathering.

Samiya Al-Saayda from the Jordan News Agency (Petra) suggested that new reporters should be trained for a full year before starting work in order to give them a better understanding of the job. “You wouldn’t let a doctor perform surgery without training and the same goes with ethical journalism.”

Mothers in newsrooms was another issue raised in the same session, with employers often reluctant to hire them.

 


Lebanese news agency boycotts politicians’ press conferences, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

Updated 07 August 2020

Lebanese news agency boycotts politicians’ press conferences, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

  • The Lebanese news agency LBCI has said it will no longer provide coverage of any politician’s press conference, including Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
  • “Let your accomplishments speak for you and don’t distract people with storytelling,” an LBCI presenter said

LONDON: The Lebanese news agency LBCI has said it will no longer provide coverage of any politician’s press conference, including Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, following Tuesday’s massive explosions.

“The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International decided that what comes after Aug. 4 is not like what came before,” a presenter announced on live television on Friday.

“Because after the earthquake is not the same as before, because your (Lebanese government) neglect and failure is one of the main reasons for what we have come to ... because after Aug. 4, we need actions and not words, achievements and not speeches.

“Let your accomplishments speak for you and don’t distract people with storytelling,” she said.

“Finally, we tell people: While you are waiting for the speeches of your leaders, there are mothers who are waiting for the return of their children from the rubble — the priority is for them, not for you.”

Many Lebanese welcomed LBCI’s announcement, with several taking to social media to praise the move — especially given that Nasrallah spoke at a press conference at 5:30 p.m. local time, his first address since the blasts.

“Not only Nasrallah, but all speeches, by all parties. They are nothing more than propaganda. They own their own propaganda bullhorns, so let them use those to address their sheep, rather than block the airwaves for the rest of us,” Raghda Azad, a policy adviser, told Arab News.

“Not that LBC is a model or anything, but all television outlets should stop unquestioning and uncritical reports of so-called leaders,” she added.

However, some doubt the move will not be followed by other stations.

“I think it would be great if they all do. But I think because many people care what he says, stations feel like they should oblige,” Aya Chamseddine, a Beirut-based researcher, told Arab News.

“Generally, people tend to — even if they loathe him — root themselves in front of TVs to watch and listen. His speeches are theatrics above all,” she said. “His narrative will be predictable. He will say they know more than anyone what it means to lose people. He’ll be insulting.”

A Lebanese media expert, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, disagrees with the move.

“CNN, even when it hates (US President) Trump, carries his speeches. Nasrallah is the biggest political player in the region; when he speaks people would want to listen because of his effect on politics and our daily lives,” he said.

“The issue is analyzing what he says later, and tearing it apart when it is false or stupid, like CNN does after every Trump speech or statement.”

The boycott comes three days after Beirut was rocked by two blasts when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate confiscated six years ago and left in a port storage hangar exploded.

The massive explosions left at least 140 people dead, over 5,000 injured and more than 300,000 homeless. Many say that government corruption and negligence are behind the explosion.