Investigated the conditions of press freedom in five Arabic countries

Most of the participants during the trip to Battir, a World Heritage Site. Photo: Private

In December JMIC arranged the Rig on Press Freedom in Nablus in Palestine in co-operation with An-Najah National University.

27 students were divided into five groups, and for five days, they did practical, journalistic work on the conditions of press freedom in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan respectively.

Intense work

The groups had already done some preparations together with Dr. Farid Abudheir in November, and on December 8th they began researching and writing their news stories, guided and supervised by Abudheir and JMIC’s Elsebeth Frey and Mathias Falch, as well as local teachers Amal Al-Qasem, Anas Salman and Ayman Masri.

– The week is very intensive, and I think both we, the teachers, and the students got valuable knowledge and experience from the Rig, Abudheir said.

Frey agreed. – The Rig is intense work, and it helps to be enthusiastic about it. I found that we, students, teachers and interpreters, shared such enthusiasm, she said.

This was the second time the Rig was arranged at An-Najah National University. Based on the evaluation from the 2017-projects, this year’s Rig also included a workshop in September to improve the student’s skills in news writing. Read more:

– Many journalists are afraid

– In my opinion, this project has great impact on our future journalists and their understanding of press freedom. I am sure they learn a lot from this way of working, and we would love to explore the Rig concept again, Abudheir stated.

His students, members of both the Department of Communication & Digital Media and Radio & Television, agreed.

– I was able to understand the subject well, and I learned a lot about freedom of the press, and that the conditions in some Arab countries aren’t the best, Suzan Alkoni, the leader of the Egypt group said.

– For instance, we have seen that many journalists are afraid to write stories about sources that have different opinions than the authorities. They self-censor themselves because they fear imprisonment and other restrictions, she elaborated.

Impressed by the students

After five days of intense work, all groups presented their finds and stories orally on December 12th. JMIC’s Frey praised the students’ effort.

– I am impressed by the students, who ran between exams and the work on the Rig. In their written evaluation, they ranked the learning outcome about the conditions for press freedom in their group’s country at 4 out of 5, and the same score for their learning outcomes of working practically as a journalist, she said.

All stories will be printed in a newspaper at An-Najah National University early in 2020.

Besides writing news stories, on December 7th the participants went on a cultural trip to religious sites in Betlehem and to the village of Battir, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2014.

The Rig has been a yearly happening for the first-grade students at OsloMet for more than a decade, and more recently, it has been arranged in Cannes, Kampala and Nablus. (By: Mathias Falch)

JMIC’s Elsebeth Frey guiding some of the students during one of the daily meetings. Photo: Mathias Falch

Suzan Alkoni discussing the work of the Egypt group together with Dr. Amal Al-Qasem and Dr. Farid Abudheir. Photo: Tasneem Khaled Saabneh

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