The Palestine media and the “Arab Spring”
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On October 5, 2011, the third of five MIFTAH presentations entitled “A Critical Reading of Print Media” took place in the University of Hebron.
Since 2010 the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Ramallah is supporting the MIFTAH project “Promoting Good Governance through Empowering Media Students: A Critical Reading of Print Media.” Both organisations agreed to start the project by initiating a “Media Monitoring” unit to monitor the media coverage presented by the Palestinian printed media outlets. The aim is to offer media students at Palestinian universities practice-oriented presentations, workshops and training on responsible reporting that will enable the students to become critical recipients of the Palestinian media.
35 media students, including a majority of female students, took part in the presentation mentioned earlier. The students analysed the coverage of the three big Palestinian daily newspapers („al-Quds“, „al-Ayyam“ and „al-Hayat al-Jadida“) of the partly violent demonstrations which took place on May 15, the day of the founding of the state of Israel.
Although all three newspapers covered the issue in detail, their focus distinguished. While al-Quds interpreted the events as part of the “Arab Spring”, the other newspapers drew more attention on the persons killed during the demonstrations. The impression was given that especially al-Quds used the event for political aims. While the coverage of this topic was not very detailed in prior years, these year’s demonstrations was being covered on several pages, including 26 pictures.
The cover picture and the headline did not match. There were also too many headlines which in many cases also were too comprehensive. These facts were met with criticism.
The students came to the conclusion, that still much progress is needed in terms of an independent news coverage. Decisions on which event to cover on the first page are often taken for political reasons by the chief editor. The decision-making inside the editorial boards has to be reformed. The additional display of killed Palestinians on the cover pages is also questionable. These scores, the non-partisan and critical work of a journalist, are the core issue of the collaboration between the KAS Ramallah and the MIFTAH.
Palestinian Territories, October 5, 2011