Press freedom

The Rig on Press Freedom: A training workshop

By: Rasem Dwikat  

Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University (NNU) concluded the five day workshop The Rig on press freedom in the Arab world Thursday 6 January 2022.   

The students with their certificates.

The workshop was organized in cooperation between NNU and OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University. The implementation was supervised by the teachers Farid Abudheir, Dalal Radwan, Ibrahim Okkeh, and Ayman Al-Masry.   

42 students from the Department of Communication & Digital Media and the Department of Radio & TV participated in the workshop. This workshop comes within the framework of cooperation between the two universities in the field of media and communication, which dates back to 1999.  

Students with some of their teachers.

The workshop aims, according to the workshop coordinator, Farid Abudheir, to raise the level of knowledge and awareness of media students about the concept of press freedom and its reality in the world in general, and in the Arab world in particular, where students work over five days to research issues of violations against media and journalists in various Arab countries. Abudheir adds that the workshop also aims to strengthen the concepts of media ethics among the journalism students, the most important of which are: Obtaining firsthand information from sources, verifying the validity of information, in addition to making balance in building news stories, as well as using data journalism tools in searching for information, filtering and using it in media materials in the framework of credibility, accuracy and fairness.  

Students waiting in the sun.

This workshop is distinguished in its topic and implementation mechanism. The Rig on press freedom was invented by Professor Elisabeth Frey from OsloMet, who participated in implementing it at NNU in 2017 and 2019, while she was unable to participate in the workshop this year with her colleague Mathias Falch due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The distinction of this training workshop lies in the fact that it is based on mechanisms of taking students from theoretical academic education to practice outside the class, transferring the student from the limited local field to the wide global arena, as well as moving the student to the digital space and employing modern techniques in building the journalistic story.  

At the closing session of the workshop, Farid Abudheir, thanked everybody at NNU and OsloMet contributing to the success of the workshop. He also thanked Ruben André Johansen, Second Secretary at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, for attending the ceremony and participating in honouring the students.   

Students presenting their work.

Ruben André Johansen said that the declining state of press freedom in the world requires strong, principled and experienced journalists. He added that the independent press is one of the most important elements in a democratic society, which is why Norway supports projects that focus on press freedom, including the Rig on press freedom workshop at NNU. He thanked the organizers of the workshop for inviting him to attend the closing session of the workshop, and congratulated the teachers, professors and students on the successful completion of the workshop.  

Mr. Raed Al-Dabai, the NNU President’s Assistant, emphasized that freedom is a great value, and that media freedom is an essential component of the values for development and progress, and that NNU appreciates the idea of the project and the value it defends, which is the freedom of the press. Al-Dubai thanked the partners in Norway and OsloMet University for their efforts in making these projects a success, looking forward to more cooperation and achievements in the coming days.  

Roaa Al-Khuffash, who spoke on behalf of the students, expressed her and her colleagues’ happiness with the Rig and its successful completion. Al-Khuffash added that the value of the Rig lies in taking student away from the usual stereotypical style of teaching, since it broadens the students’ perceptions of press freedom in the Arab world, integrating students in media field work, and makes the student bear the responsibility of the information s/he transmits in his reports.  

 Israa Subuh with Ruben André Johansen, Second Secretary at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority.

It is noteworthy that the presentations of the students’ achievements before the concluding paragraph included a brief by each student’s about the story he/she worked on during the Rig, its importance, the methods he/she used in building the story, and the challenges he/she faced. This was followed by an evaluation; a discussion of the students’ performance.  

Certificates issued by OsloMet and NNU were distributed to the participating students. The final outcome of the Rig will be the publication of all stories in a newspaper soon after the Rig.

(PHOTOS by students’ mobiles.)   

Climate change

Global news stream on social media

In October, journalism students from seven different countries collaborated on publishing news stories on environmental issues.  

By: Mathias Falch

The project was called Global news stream on social media, and a total of 140 students from Independent University Bangladesh, Universidad de Costa Rica, Nepal Open University, OsloMet (Norway), An-Najah National University (Palestine), Université de la Manouba (Tunisia) and Makerere University (Uganda) participated. 

From one of the news stories from Independent University Bangladesh – by Nazmul Hossen Tuhin and Fahmida Binta Azad.

All the news stories dealt with climate and environmental problems in the respective countries, and they had to be grouped into one of the following sub-categories: 

(water/wastewater/flooding/hydropower/fishing practices/melting glaciers) 

Waste and pollution 
(mining/coal run-off/industrialization/air pollution/trash/waste management/recycling)


Into the future 
(urban living/public health/migration/clean energy/recycling) 

From Rose Namusobya’s news story on the way to a plastics-free Kampala, Uganda. 

On Tuesday October 26th, the easternmost universities started to publish their stories on the project’s Facebook page. The rest of the students joined the publishing when the sun rose in their countries. 

The students were encouraged to present their news stories in social media-friendly formats, and a lot of them experimented with both videos, infographics, and photographs. 

A total of 83 news stories were published, and they can be found on this Facebook-page (will open in a new window).

By joining the project, the students learned a lot about the climate crisis, a topic that will dominate the news in many years to come. As one Tunisian student pointed out, this project allowed her to think about the real threat that the world is facing. The students liked that the project was global and having an international audience. The global aspect helped them to expand their environmental understanding and how these issues can be incorporated in news stories.  

The participants said that they gained important insight on how both their own and other countries are dealing with the ongoing climate changes, and that they found it inspiring to see how aspiring journalists from other countries write and present their news. “Since all posts were posted simultaneously and from the same account, it really felt as a collaborative project between different universities around the world” – as a student from Costa Rica wrote. 

The students made useful international contacts, and hopefully, some of their paths will cross again in the future. 

The planning of the project was done online.

The head coordinator of the project was Mathias Falch from OsloMet. He was joined by OsloMet-colleagues Elsebeth Frey, who initiated the project, and Ashley Riddell, as well as local coordinators Any Pérez (Costa Rica), Arwa Kooli (Tunisia), Charlotte Ntulume (Uganda), Samiksha Koirala (Nepal), Farid Abudheir (Palestine) and Zakir Hossain Raju (Bangladesh). 


Awards to North African journalists for stories on COVID

During a closing ceremony in Tunis 20 December the jury gave a first award to Hiba Hmidi, a Tunisian journalist, for her work on Covid-19 virus medical waste. 

She has been part of the project on “Supporting the right to information and investigative journalism while fighting Covid-19 in the Maghreb region” since April – a cooperation between Article 19 MENA (Middle East and North Africa), Institute of Press and Information Sciences (IPSI) and JMIC running for several years.  

Hiba Hmidi won the first prize (Photo: Article 19 MENA).

The second award was received by Majda Ayet Lakteoui, a Moroccan journalist. She worked on the shortage in the number of doctors and nurses, exacerbated by the pandemic, as relatives of those infected with Covid-19 are working to care for the injured instead of the medical staff. This has contributed to the deterioration of the situation of patients and the transmission of the virus, her work shows.  

Second prize winner Majda Ayet Lakteoui (Photo: Article 19 MENA).

During the awards ceremony the trainee journalists – who were present online and offline –  presented their work and their journey within the program during the production phase and highlighted the challenges and lessons learned from their perspectives.  

The event was in a hybrid format, its first part was a round table discussion focused on the future of investigative journalism in the Maghreb region. This roundtable brought together experienced investigative journalists from Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia and experts in access to information.  

From right: Hanen Zbiss, Walid Mejri and Khaoula Boukrim, both Tunisian investigative journalists, Rafik Ben Abdallah, a representative from the Access to information oversight body in Tunisia and Anass Bendhrif – Hanene and Anass have trained and  coached the participants (Photo: Article 19 MENA).

They discussed the challenges that investigative journalism has been facing in the Maghreb region, the reasons for these challenges, how they can be overcome, how to put the access to information laws at the service of the development of investigative journalism and how the investigative journalism can contribute to enhance the implementation of the access to information law. 

The participants after the discussion and awards ceremony (Photo: Article 19 MENA).