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Perugia: The International Journalism Festival is back in Italy after a two-year hiatus. Many roundtables on Arab countries and the Middle East were held there.
This year’s edition has special implications for media professionals in the Arab world. The festival features the largest selection of panel discussions related to the region to date.
“When coming from a nearly cataclysmic environment like Syria, or from a very oppressive situation like Egypt, we are not only journalists and experts, but that it is our mission. I always have an idea, “says Editor-in-Chief Karam Nachar. -Editor-in-chief and co-founder of Al-Joumhouria.
From contextual discussions on media practices in Syria and Egypt to more general panel discussions outlining the region’s current media environment, the festival shares experiences with journalists and addresses the pressing issues facing the media. This is an opportunity to discuss. sector.

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Hara Dolby, director of the Arab Journalism Counter Academy. (Francesco Quoccho)

“Such a conference gives us the opportunity to talk about Arab media that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” said Michael Jensen, Mena Regional Director of International Media Support (Middle East and South Africa).
“It also gives us the opportunity to introduce new ideas and discuss specific outcomes to address the common problems facing the region.”
The conference was held for five days and was attended by more than 700 speakers. Roundtables, discussions and presentations held in Perugia’s fascinating historic center, its theaters, auditoriums and libraries have responded to the festival’s reputation.

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The city of Perugia was full of people from all over the world who came to see the festival. (Photo courtesy)

Due to the high turnout of the population, the entire city has changed to host one of Europe’s largest journalism events. The pastry shop on the main square of the town was also decorated with a chocolate festival sign.

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The pastry shop on the main square of the town was also decorated with a chocolate festival sign. Photo courtesy.

Founded in 2006, the festival is held annually in Perugia, the capital of Umbria in central Italy. Journalists, students, the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) come together to discuss current media practices and recent events around the world.
The emergence of independent media and the strengthening of media freedom were common themes of roundtables.

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A roundtable on the future of Syrian media and journalism. (Francescore Skaniopepe)

In a panel discussion entitled “Development and Future of Emerging Media in Syria,” experts discussed the development of independent media in Syria since 2011.

“We were a group of activists who wanted to know what was happening in a neighboring town. Only one of us studied journalism,” said the big growth after the Syrian uprising. Kholoud Helmi, co-founder of Enab Baladi, an independent Syrian media outlet, said.
“The rules of journalism were unknown to us. We didn’t know how to express objectivity or nuances, but we were enthusiastic. We tell people our story. Desperate to. For us, people here and elsewhere need to know what is happening in the Syrian city. “
Explaining why independent journalism is most important in conflict zones like Syria, the roundtable was called the “land of silence” in the prewar era, a very limited pre-2011 media in the country. I drew a portrait of the landscape of Syria.
The speaker emphasized the need to support citizen journalism and stated that many of the people who established independent media or are currently working in the media began as activists and citizens with little or no experience in journalism. rice field.
At another roundtable, entitled “Innovation: New Media Practices from the Arab Region,” editors emerged various types of new media practices over the last decade to challenge the traditional notions of journalism. I was able to shed light on.
“For example, cultural journalism has emerged strongly in the region in recent years. This type of journalism, with a focus on introducing Arab culture to foreign audiences, challenges the traditional style of breaking news and tells stories. It’s especially important because it focuses on telling, “Karam points out.
Numerous roundtables have also been organized to inform foreign journalists and the international media of the needs of the local media. During a session entitled “The Future of Media Coverage in Afghanistan,” the speaker touched on the daily lives of Afghan journalists under the Tullivan administration.

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Participants are lined up to access one of the many roundtables held in the town square. (Photo courtesy)

“Two suicide bombings in Kabul on April 30, 2018 targeted journalists in the country. Twenty-five people, including nine journalists, died there, three of whom were my colleagues. “We did,” says Maraliva Seal, an award-winning Afghanistan journalist, editor-in-chief of Radio Free Europe, and Afghanistan service at Radio Liberty Station, locally known as “Radio Azadi.”
“I would like to reiterate our commitment to the work of journalists in Afghanistan and emphasize how they contributed to the freedom of the media, the freedom of speech and the right to access accurate and unbiased information in Afghanistan. “
Since August 15, when the Taliban took power, more than 300 media have ceased operations in Afghanistan. Hundreds of journalists have fled Afghanistan, and the remaining journalists either quit their jobs or adapt to increasingly volatile environments and face significant safety risks.

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A roundtable on the future of media coverage in Afghanistan under the Taliban administration, held at the History Library. (Photo courtesy)

The speaker also discussed how to cover the event in Afghanistan locally and emphasized that local and foreign journalists are so dependent on each other that they need to be taught to work together.
“We need to support citizen journalism and train local journalists to speak their stories,” recommends Vanessa Gezari, National Security Editor at The Intercept.
“As foreign journalists, we need to help Afghans talk about their country, find stories to tell, involve them in their stories, and share stories using social media.”
A common concern of these regional roundtables was how to emphasize the importance of events in Syria and Afghanistan, where many other conflicts and crises are intensifying around the world.

This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com.