Building capacity of the Palestinian media in conflict sensitive reporting
Local Palestinian journalists have struggled to respond to threats to their personal safety and journalistic integrity. The Palestinian media sphere, which has long since been dominated by partisan control and self-censorship, has become further politically polarized and driven by factions, rather than citizens’ concerns. According to Ma'an’s 2011 survey, 39% of Palestinians felt that local media negatively impacts the Palestinian internal division. At the same time, Palestinian journalists committed to independent, non-partisan coverage feel under siege from all sides, as investigative reporting is portrayed as advocacy for the opposing group. Ma’an Network receives constant threats and has sustained a number of attacks as it endeavors to pursue balanced and challenging journalism. Furthermore, access to information and professional development is harmed by the breakdown in access between Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which prevents journalists from the respective territories from meeting colleagues and reporting freely on both sides.
This project seeks to support local media outlets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (including print, online, TV and radio) to develop professional capacity and networking in order to increase visibility and support of balanced, responsible coverage of the internal conflict. (UNESCO’s Conflict-sensitive reporting: state of the art; a course for journalists and journalism educators will be used as a learning tool for this project.) Providing spaces for professional solidarity, self-reflection and identification and discussion of common challenges, will help to build a consensus of responsible reporting across the board, and protect journalists from the hostile factional environment.
The project will produce 40 journalists with acquired skills in self-evaluation and feedback on balance and responsibility in reporting on the internal conflict, and the means to develop relations with other local journalists across the political spectrum. These individuals will form a professional network of skilled journalists, linked through a designated web portal, responsive to challenges and pressures facing its members. It will also produce audiovisual and written reports, published on the web portal, to foster discussion and information-sharing among participants.