Media Development Center launches first solutions journalism forum in Palestine

The Media Development Center at Birzeit University has launched the first “Solutions-Driven News Coverage” forum at the Conference for Solutions Journalism in Palestine, held on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, on the university campus.

The forum, organized together with Canal France International –  the French media development agency of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs – drew international and Palestinian media experts, who discussed impact media and solutions journalism and ways to introduce such modalities to the Palestinian media scene, in four sessions.

Vice President for Community Affairs at Birzeit University Asem Khalil emphasized the impact of journalism media, saying that it motivates active citizenship by showcasing actual, concrete answers to social issues.

“News media, the fourth estate, must work on regaining the community’s trust by transforming itself from a neutral monitor to a dynamic influencer of action. One that emphasizes citizenship and community engagement,” he added.

Chloé Lavalou, coordinator of audiovisual collaboration projects at Institut Français Jérusalem, addressed the attendees on behalf of the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem. She noted that the consulate supports Palestinian projects that positively affect the community.

Florent Signifredi, project manager at Canal France International, remarked that the forum focuses on integrating youth, digital media, and the local community into solutions journalism.

“We believe that this new modality will benefit the Palestinian community by offering a chance at joint research and discussion of issues that affect the society,” Signifredi said. “Solutions journalism connects the youth and engages members of the community in such a way that incentivizes them to bolster the quality and variety of information available.”

The first session of the conference, entitled “What is Solutions Journalism and How Does it Affect Change?,” featured Director of the Media Development Center Nibal Thawabteh, Head of Media Network Development at Sparknews Audrey Jacquet, and La Croix reporter Salomé Parent.

Thawabteh drew attention to the positive impact of solutions journalism in Palestine, observing that news media deafeningly showcases issues within the society, but can quietly offer solutions as well.

Jacquet gave examples of how solutions journalism has affected change in various communities around the world and has drawn renewed attention to news media. She noted that some news media agencies saw significant jumps in advertising revenue when they focused on solutions journalism.

Parent said that solutions journalism, coupled with impact media, can pave the way for journalists to visit a multitude of topics and subjects from a different point of view. “This type of journalism moves away from an abstract representation of reality to a more active, engaged contribution to society,” she mentioned.

The second session, entitled “How Can Solutions Journalism Help News Media Agencies Reconnect with Their Audience and Draw New Readers,” saw Nina Fasciaux, representative of the Solutions Journalism Network in France, and Saleh Masharqa, Research and Policy Unit Coordinator at the Media Development Center, discuss the effects of the internet and social media on news media readership, and how solutions journalism can revitalize journalism in the digital age.

Fasciaux, together with Shuruq As’ad, a reporter for Monte Carlo Doualiya and Dubai TV, and Sahar Othman, the executive director of the Palestinian Center for Youth Economic Empowerment, reviewed the Palestinian media scene and methods to integrate solutions journalism in Palestinian media reporting in “How to Create Solutions-Journalism Stories in Palestine,” the third session of the conference.

The final session, “Solutions Journalism: The Proper Local and Online Trend,” included Fasciaux, As’ad, and Jalaa Abu Arab, editor in chief of Dooz, a local media platform.

The conference also included a plenary discussion session, entitled “An Explanation of Trends in Solutions Journalism in Regional and Local Media,” that featured Rola Salameh, a presenter at Maan News Agency, and Ehab Al Jarere, manager and radio-show host at FM24 Radio Station.

The conference concluded with a list of recommendations by attendees, which will facilitate the integration of solutions journalism into the Palestinian media scene, such as a week-long training course held at Birzeit University, providing support and training for news agencies in adopting solutions journalism, and specialized seminars on data journalism.