Launching Event - Citizens' Voice in Lebanon: Investigative Journalism Seminar
By: Christy-Belle Geha, Communications Intern at the Issam Fares Institute.
The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), in partnership with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and with the collaboration of Daraj Media, is organizing a six-session investigative journalism seminar from mid-December 2020 till end of January 2021, as part of the project “Citizen's Voice," implemented by the MENA-OECD Governance programme with the support of the German foreign office.
The seminar's launch, which occurred on December 11, 2020, hosted the selected participants alongside Nasser Yassin, AUB professor and former research director at IFI, Bernhard Abels, counsellor for economic affairs, culture, and press at the German Embassy in Beirut, Charlotte Denise-Adams, policy analyst at OECD, and Diana Moukalled, co-founder at Daraj Media
Nasser Yassin specified in his opening remarks that researchers whose work focuses on policy research and cause/effect relations, need to connect with the media to benefit from their skills. However, connecting with the right media is a challenge. “We need the trilogy made of researchers, journalists, and civil society actors, to analyze data and make wise use of it," he added.
From his part, Bernhard Abels pinpointed the key objective of this investigative journalism training, that is to form empowered communication and promote accountability. “Objective reporting is key for holding the government accountable," he noted.
Charlotte Denise-Adams explained the need for evidence-based journalism, especially that investigative journalism can function as “key catalyst for open governments."
Diana Moukalled said that journalists in Lebanon have long been used to low ceilings and censorship in the mainstream media. “Daraj started in November of 2017, with the support of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), from the heart of frustration," she said. “As we target Arab speakers, we do give major importance for investigative journalism, since exposing corruption and wrongdoings made by people in power is essential."
She then listed the topics of the trainings' six sessions, ranging from basics of investigative journalism, to media ethics and dilemmas, cross-border media collaborations, post-Beirut blast investigative journalism, open-source investigations, and fact-checking.
The participating journalists who come from diverse backgrounds of coverage (social issues, environment, science, and Beirut blast survivors) later introduced themselves.
Moukalled commented that the change that these journalists are seeking, needs accumulation.
“Many in Lebanon now would feel frustration from the fact that the judiciary isn't properly working," she expressed. “Accountability is what we seek out of investigative journalism, and motive will help a lot in transforming anger into something constructive."