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27 New Conflict Sensitive Journalists

Class of conflict sensitive journalists at MDC 2011
The Media Development Center recently finished a comprehensive course in conflict sensitive journalism in Gaza and the West Bank conducted by the Canadian journalists John Keating. Keating has trained journalists all over the world but found the training particular complicated in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“The biggest difference is definitely that it’s an occupation,” said Keating and explained that the conflict has become so deeply rooted in that journalists no longer see how it is affecting their journalism.

“My main impression is that journalists here have not really done a lot of thinking about their role as journalists as opposed to their role as Palestinian citizens,” but at the end of the courses Keating felt very encouraged, that the trainees were now thinking about it and understanding it and would incorporate some of it as much as they could.

The course was carried out from and was funded by UNESCO. According to Hala Tannous from UNESCO  such courses are very important to give Palestinian journalists the necessary skills to work in a complex and sensitive environment such as Palestine.

“Part of the course was designed to explain how conflicts work and how they are settled, we hope that such techniques would help our Palestinian journalists to explore more ways of tackling the ongoing local situation, and to understand the mechanics which combines their experience with the new ideas presented,” she said.

The course consisted of a three day workshop (October 18 to 20) with 13 journalism students and fresh graduates in the West Bank and a five day work shop (October 22 to 25) in Gaza with 14  trainees, mainly experienced journalists. These courses were the first of its kind carried out by the Center, but according to Keating it would be beneficial to conduct more similar trainings – also in Israel.

“I would like to more of it done here and I would like to see it done on the Israeli side as well because they have a lot of responsibility in treating the news fairly. It might be an opportunity to expand the field a little bit and get people to do more work here,” he said.

Keating has more of 30 years of experience as a journalist in Canada and has conducted similar courses around the world including Kenya and Nepal.

Read more about the course on the MDC blog