Forsa Campaign discusses National Media Development outcomes at BZU

The Media Development Center (MDC) at Birzeit University, in cooperation with the Department of Media and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, organized a public lecture on the Forsa Campaign and the National Media Development Initiative outcomes.

The lecture, held in the Activities Hall in the Mohammad Masrouji Building for Media on the university campus, was attended by dozens of Birzeit University students and faculty members.

MDC Monitoring & Evaluating Coordinator Emad Alasfr said that the campaign is aimed at “the government, universities, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, and media organizations. But the campaign, at its core, is aimed at media students, who form the basis for the future of media in Palestine. This is what the campaign is striving to guarantee with its various outcomes, which aim to improve and develop media work for a better media future.”

Alasfr also presented the outcomes of the National Initiative for Media Development and its nine key points, which are: Legal Reformation, Academic Development, Gender Equality, Self-regulation, Public Media, Media Training, Media and the Community, Infrastructure, and Job Safety, which the center implemented with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Department of Media Acting Chairperson Jumane Qunnaisse noted that the advancement of academic work is one of the core principles on which the success of media depends. Qunnaisse commended the Media Development Center and the National Team for the courses offered under the Forsa Campaign and the National Initiative for Media Development. The Department of Media, added Qunnaisse, began offering the Media Ethics and Media and the Law courses, with the Gender course to be integrated by the next Spring Semester.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate Representative and General Secretariat Member Musa Alshaer commended the Forsa Campaign. “This campaign is not only an opportunity, but a reality that we should benefit from, and work toward implementing and taking full advantage of the initiative’s outcomes. The consensus of the National Team, which includes over 80 institutions both in the West Bank and Gaza, exemplifies the media’s need for such a campaign,” he said.

MDC Media Research and Policy Coordinator Saleh Masharqeh reviewed two courses: Media and the Law, and Media Ethics. Masharqeh highlighted the importance of those two courses for university students and the additions that they make to the students’ legal knowledge and journalism ethics, which prevent mistakes from happening.

Media Professor at Birzeit University Ina'M El-Obeidi detailed the importance and the method of instruction for the Media and Law courses – which were adopted by most Palestinian universities. She also emphasized the importance of offering these courses, because of the overabundance of news in Palestine, which sometimes leads to professional errors.

MDC Gender Unit Coordinator Nahed Abu Tu'ima gave a presentation on the Media and Gender Equality course and how to best deliver it. She noted that the course serves to change stereotypical images found in media, and she emphasized the importance of adopting a gender-sensitive editorial policy.

Rula Abu Duhou, a professor of women’s studies at Birzeit University who helped in designing the Media and Gender Equality course, noted its importance for institutionalizing the gender concept, which comprises both men and women equally. She also alluded to the significance of changing the stereotypical image of women in the media. Abu Duhou also emphasized the importance of following the code of conduct for journalist, saying “Journalists and media workers must not get carried away by what some social media users are doing, such as misusing photographs or harassing women who participate in confrontations and clashes with the Israeli Occupation forces or in any other kind of event which could reproduce discriminatory actions against women.”

At the end of the lecture, MDC Project Coordinator Buthayna Alsemeiri announced that the MDC is conducting a feasibility study to identify the defining features of a professional, specialized diploma program, which will be launched in one year and implemented under the supervision of the center. The program, added Alsemeiri, will leave a positive impact on the development of graduating students and provide them with even more skills and capacities to compete in the job market.