Thursday, February 3, 2011

UNESCO and ARIJ help media professors integrate investigative journalism into curricula

UNESCO and ARIJ help media professors integrate investigative journalism into curricula

Story-Based Inquiry cover page

01-02-2011 (Amman)

A three-day workshop gathered 16 professors from four Arab countries to look into the possibility of integrating investigative journalism practices into their media curricula. The event took place from 29 to 31 January 2011 in Amman, Jordan.

This workshop, held in cooperation with UNESCO’s Office in Amman, is the first in a series of courses to be organized until 2014 by the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), the region's first and only media support network seeking to promote in-depth reporting.

Academics from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine were trained on the use ofStory-Based Inquiry: A manual for investigative journalists, which was jointly produced by UNESCO and ARIJ. The manual's main author, Mark Lee Hunter (a professor of media and investigative journalism at the France-based INSEAD), supervised the workshop along with senior ARIJ trainers.

The training covered how to conduct an investigative report from A to Z, including establishing hypothesis and research methods; checking sources; organizing the work; and applying appropriate writing techniques.

"Investigative reporting has the potential to present new realities and shatter old paradigms. It is your role now, as professors of media, to help us plant the seed of this concept in the upcoming generation of journalists in the region," said Anna Paolini, Head of UNESCO’s Amman Office, in her address to the participants of the workshop.

Story-Based Inquiry, the first Arab manual for investigative journalists, was published in 2009 by UNESCO and ARIJ to fill the gap in the literature of the profession. The manual is being translated into all official UN languages in addition to Kurdish. Its international edition is being taught at over 16 universities in China.

The ARIJ 2011-2014 strategy focuses, among other things, on introducing the manual to Arab media universities, from Morocco to Bahrain, in order to enhance the culture of investigative journalism for the benefit of local societies. ARIJ expects that at least four Arab universities will use the manual in their class rooms within the next four years.

“Since the creation of ARIJ five years ago, we have used a bottom-top approach to promote investigative journalism among individual journalists and through specialized units being set up at several existing Arab media," said Rana Sabbagh, ARIJ Executive Director. "We now hope to inspire universities to train the future generation of media professionals on investigative journalism in order to ensure greater accountability and transparency."

In the run-up to the workshop in Amman, ARIJ organized a round table for deans and professors from 30 private and public Arab universities at the Third Annual ARIJ Conference.

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