UNESCO and the Media Development Center of the University of Birzeit (BZUMDC) organized a training workshop in Ramallah, Palestine on 16 and 17 October aimed at launching a comprehensive assessment of Palestine’s media landscape based on UNESCO/IPDC’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs).
The training workshop was attended by some fifty participants occupying high-level functions in some of Palestine’s main media outlets, news agencies, media development organizations, universities and governmental bodies as well as the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. It involved participation from both the West Bank and Gaza, the latter providing inputs to the discussion via videoconference throughout the two-day meeting.
The training was designed to provide participants with detailed guidance on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators and how to apply them in Palestine. The MDIs are an internationally accredited framework for assessing the media environment in any given country, looking at all aspects of media development – from the legal and regulatory framework to the educational opportunities available for aspiring and working media professionals.
Toby Mendel, international media legal expert, conducted the training, while presentations were made on diverse aspects of the Palestinian media landscape by five key speakers, including Mahmod Khalifah, Deputy, Ministry of Information, Husam Iez Al Deen, journalist and member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Nibal Thawbteh, Director of the Media Development Center at Birzeit University, Nahed Abu-Tomeh, Lecturer specialized in gender issues at Al-Quds University and Sabrei Sydam, the President’s Consultant for Communication Affairs. UNESCO MDI Coordinator Saorla McCabe also provided an introduction on the MDI methodology, its origins and objectives.
Many participants welcomed the initiative to carry out an MDI assessment in Palestine, highlighting the need for an objective assessment based on international standards, which could subsequently be used as an advocacy tool. A number of attendees noted that the MDI assessment would feed into discussions on the National Media Strategy currently being developed, which aims to bring together in a consultative and coordinated manner the efforts of the different stakeholders concerned with media development in Palestine, including local media actors, government authorities, national and international CSOs, and donors. The purpose of the Strategy is to promote an enabling framework for freedom and independency of the media, while also reinforcing professional and ethical standards in journalism.
Referring to the specific challenges faced by media professionals in Gaza, one participant underlined the important role played by the media there, describing them as “a window for the community”.
The MDI assessment process will now begin, involving a combination of literature review, data collection and wide-ranging consultations. It is expected to be completed by October 2013.