MAP and MasterPeace club of Lebanon held their Annual Peace Journalism 2014 workshop entitled “The Role of Media in Peace Building and Conflict Transformation in Lebanon”, on the 11th, 12th and 13th of December 2014 at AltCityHamra for the fourth year in a row. Activists in the communication field and media students from different Lebanese universities and various religious and political backgrounds took part in this workshop.
The first day, introduced by the Founder, President and Executive Director of MAP and Country Coordinator of MasterPeace- Lebanon, Ms Vanessa Bassil, tackled the role of media in divided societies and the actual situation of the Lebanese media outlets. Participants also defined the responsibility of media in understanding conflicts and in using the appropriate tools to analyze it and to reveal its background and framework for the public opinion. This exercise exposed the fact that Medias in Lebanon lack professional and knowledgeable standards in portraying conflicts and that it is necessary to induce a reform campaign to spread the concept and principles of Peace Journalism which is oriented towards peace, people, truth and solutions. Peace journalism aims at explaining- not justifying violence in all of its forms.
The second day revolved around analyzing the headlines of the 7th of May 2008 incidents in both newspapers: Al Akhbar and Al Mostaqbal, taking the criteria of Peace and War journalism as a reference. (May 7th is a political conflict that happened in Beirut in 2008 between two sectarian groups and that led to the death of dozens of people). Participants then devised an action plan with the trainer Mr. Hussein Itany, an expert in the field of corporate communication to cover events in times of conflicts. After that, the two journalists Safaa Ayad from NBN TV and Faten Jebai from Al Iman TV shared their personal experiences as Peace Journalists in religious and political media outlets and the possibility of implementing Peace Journalism in Lebanon, especially after their participation in the MAP Peace Journalism workshops.
During the last day, Mr. Mohammad Mohsen, a reporter in Russia Today TV, talked about the gap between professional journalistic standards, personal beliefs and institutional policies, taking his field experience as a real-life example. In addition, partakers in the workshop discussed the relationship between peace-oriented media and human rights, particularly women’s rights, and undertook training with the journalist Mr. Elias Bassil, MAP member and participant in previous Peace Journalism workshops, about covering gender-based violence and the role of media in implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 about Women, Peace and Security. Moreover, Mrs. Sandra Whitehead, lecturer at the Rafik Hariri University, talked about storytelling as a tool for peace. Finally, participants learned with Zeina Merhi, MAP team member, about Media Literacy and its importance in complementing and putting peace journalism into action.
The workshop was characterized by interaction between participants and covered both the theoretical and practical side of peace journalism. It ended by devising a future action plan to develop this concept through other activities. The MAP team distributed certificates for participants after an evaluative session of the workshop.