Media conference panelists call for cooperation on free, professional press

A committee of veteran journalists, academics and experts issued on February 22, 2017 a document detailing recommendations that came out of the “National Initiative for Media Development” Conference held in both Ramallah and Gaza.

The panelists made recommendations on media legal reform, academic development, gender equality, media logistics and infrastructure, media training, job safety, self-regulation, role of media in the society and the public media.

They recommended issuing rules and regulations that guarantee the Right of Access to Information and Publication and securing journalistic freedom. The participants also emphasized the importance of developing courses specialized in gender education, and related to developments in technology and new media.

Training and workshops should be organized regularly to enhance the professional skills among journalists and media experts, in adherence with the local and global market’s needs, the participants said.

Minister of Culture Ihab Bseiso, speaking on behalf of the Palestinian prime minister, stated that the state is committed to freedom of press. He implied that the National Initiative is an essential move towards developing the media sector through research, workshops, and draft laws.

Bseiso added that Palestinians’ voice must be heard everywhere despite the obstacles. Press, according to Bseiso, offers a platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard, which can be empowered through a fruitful collaboration of experts, academics and prominent journalists.

Birzeit University President Abdullatif Abuhijleh expressed his pride in this vibrant cooperation of 80 legal and media partners in the West Bank and Gaza, which sought to achieve a free, professional and objective media. He called upon all related institutions and entities to implement the outcomes of the initiative.

Director of the Media Development Center Nibal Thawbtah said that work on this initiative started three years ago. “Despite political factions, we were able to succeed in both the West Bank and Gaza. We are now celebrating our three years of dedication.”

Thawabtah assured that the center will continue its efforts to implement the outcomes of the conference.

The conference was organized by Birzeit University’s Media Development Center, under the patronage of the Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, and in cooperation with the Palestine Journalist Syndicate. The conference was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).