Investing In The Future Program:
Welcome to the “Investing in the Future” Program
When the program started as a partnership between Free Voice , a Dutch NGO and CDFJ of Jordan, its main goal was to offer support to journalists, legal experts, media professionals and their organizations in six countries in the Middle East; namely Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Yemen.
The “Investing in the Future” program, which first came to light in 2006, was the fruit of years of academic research and professional cooperation. It was initiated by FreeVoice, a Dutch non-governmental organization involved in media support (www.FreeVoice.nl) and the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists in Jordan (www.cdfj.org) . Its training program started with a series of Training of Trainer workshops (TOT) for journalists and lawyers in 2007
Given the fact that most Arab countries suffer from restrictions on press freedom, and a lack of adequate in-company and mid-career training facilities, the ItF program had set as its main goal to addresses these issues by enabling journalists and legal experts in the region to expand and upgrade their skills through the provision of short, relevant and practical training.
The program promoted an environment to enable journalists to enact and advance their talent and expertise at all levels and degrees of efficiency. The program strives to maintain close contact with media organizations in order to promote and environment in which alumni to the program are given the change to apply the learning to their work.. By engaging in direct contact with an increasing number of media organizations in the region, the program aims to contribute to raising standards of professional quality and innovation.
“Investing in the Future” is well aware of the institutional and political context within which media organizations in the Middle East operate and tries to raise awareness of opportunities for change through discussions with all stakeholders. The program support the work of non-governmental organizations in the region that are active in defending and promoting media freedom, advocating for legal change and raising the legal awareness of journalists concerning their rights and obligations.
“Investing in the Future” runs a comprehensive program that includes general and specialized training on a wide range of topics.
The program keeps in contact with former participants (alumni), by inviting them to join a network of media professionals, who are invited to participate in follow-up activities, join other workshops and share their suggestions and ideas on future training and other activities of common interest. To this end it organizes annual general assemblees in each of the six countries, where national committees are elected, whose role it is to promote a sense of allegiance to the ItF media community to represent their community at the regional Steering Committee and to assist in the organization of training workshops and discussion meetings.
The program is implemented at national and regional levels by the Investing in the Future Program Office in Egypt, the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists in Jordan as well as an alliance of NGOs and media institutions in the MENA region.
What we do:
Concerns and needs
The concerns and needs of media professionals in the region formed the point of departure for the Investing in the Future program. They show that media professionals and lawyers in the MENA region suffer from a lack of opportunities to raise professional standards at basic and intermediate levels. These concerns were not limited to the professional field of acquiring advanced skills. They also include the field of intellectual development, as well as critical thinking that is based on principles of freedom of expression and democracy. Legal training on media legislation, and legal protection is suffering from the same lack of attention. In answer to these needs, the program involves training Arab journalists and legal experts to become trainers on journalistic skills, media law and information technology.
Regional network of media professionals
Media experts at a regional conference, that was organized by Investing in the Future in Amman in 2005,concluded that raising professional qualifications, legal awareness and training skills of Arab media professionals should be given priority. The mission adopted was to create a regional network of media professionals, which could become a nucleus of improving the quality of journalism in the region. Network members should be radio, television, print and Internet journalists and media lawyers, who are motivated to work on their own professional development and contribute to a better media environment through a 5-year program of training, capacity building, and other professional activities. This ‘Media Community for Change’ would be engaged in training colleagues and give journalism and freedom of the press in the Arab world a well-needed boost.
A regional focus of program activities
The program has a regional focus and aims at working with journalists, legal experts, media-, and media advocacy organizations in six countries in the Middle East: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and Yemen. This regional focus has many advantages since many of the legal and media problems are similar. An example of advantages of this regional approach is formed by a regional conference, held in Jordan in February this year, where legal experts, judges, parliamentarians and media advocates discussed the results of a study on judicial verdicts in media cases. The program wants to initiate a regional debate on excellence in journalism through professional workshops and publications.
- To raise professional standards and legal awareness among journalists in the participating countries.
- To strengthen organizational and managerial effectiveness of media organizations and media capacity building initiatives
- To strengthen grassroots media NGO’s, who defend press freedom in these six countries.
- To create national alliances between stakeholders groups to develop joint actions in support of a more effective role and contribution of the media to democracy and the development of civil society
- To create a regional platform that will stimulate discussions on press freedom and provide support to journalists and media lawyers in the Arab world.
- To build ownership of the program among participants and partner organizations.
Capacity building and specialization:
Training activities for journalists concentrate on a limited number of subjects, for which ItF strives to contribute to the further development of journalistic specializations: financial-economic reporting; civil society reporting; web-base reporting. Lawyers receive training to become specialists in media legislation.
Community building, action orientation and ownership:
ItF aims at long term cooperation with journalists and media organizations because it is convinced this will increase the impact of its work. It has formed media communities in each of the six countries who are involved in continued development of the program. It has developed mechanisms for the gradual transition of ownership by these national communities.
Communication with alumni:
ItF stays in touch with its alumni through its website. The website serves as a forum for exchange and discussion on professional themes on media, law and freedom of the press in the region. This website includes special information sections for professional groups, including trainers, legal experts, civil society reports and bloggers. These groups are moderated by ItF staff of the Cairo office. A monthly e-mail newsletter updating media professionals on the latest developments in the program and other media issues in the Middle East and North Africa
Freedom of expression and good governance
ItF commissions research on trends in media legislation as a basis for semi-annual regional conferences.
Steps and achievements:
Program achievements through years of activities:
Creation of a group of national trainers:
The comprehensive “Investing in the Future” training program started officially in 2007. ItF initiated the program by creating a platform of national trainers from 6 countries in the region: Lebanon , Jordan , Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen ,Morocco. This program consisted of two rounds.
The first round included four international workshops that were held for a total of 120 journalists from the six participating countries, Kuwait, Syria, UAE and Sudan. From these 120, a selection of thirty journalists was invited to attend the second or advanced train the trainers round, followed by a third workshop in 2008. At the same time, a similar process was started, where 13 out of a group of 24 legal experts participated in an advanced workshop, followed by a third workshop in 2010.
These trainers represent a variety of media organizations in each country. The trainees developed skills that will allow them to become trainers in their own countries and organizations. They will also be invited to partake in future ItF training workshops.
At present, this program continues at national level in each of the six countries. Local training workshops are held in some of the countries and many junior trainers became actively involved in training outside their own organizations in their own countries. Some of the junior trainers even created their own training organization.
Creation of a national legal training & advice team
Once the regional train the trainers was completed, the program continued with building legal capacities. In each of the six countries, legal trainers made a quick needs assessment of the media situation. This information was used to set priorities for a training workshop that is tailored to address the specific needs of journalists and media organizations. The trainers also further developed their coaching and advisory skills, so that they are now also able to give prompt and professional legal advice to journalists and media organizations in their country. Mr. Ehab Sallam, legal- and training advisor of the Investing in the Future program collaborated closely with the national trainers in the development of these workshops and assisted as co-trainer during the implementation.
Development of civil society reporting skills and a reporters’ network
The report ”Investing in the Future” identifies the need of Arab journalists and other media professionals to increase their knowledge on topics such as journalistic research, reporting on the civil society, human rights, gender equality, etc. A series of workshops on `The Voice of Civil Society´ was launched respectively to groups of TV, radio, print and internet journalists. Different journalistic genres were practised; e.g. feature; interview; background story; personal portrait; etc. Workshops were organized per country to enable a focus on local research on local conditions. Mr. Petrus Schothorst, general coordinator of the Investing in the Future program, collaborated closely with a content specialist in the facilitation of each workshop.
Upgrading financial reporting skills
Journalists increasingly need to understand how the world’s financial markets drive business reporting- also the economic changes and political reactions. This workshop outlines concepts and terminology to equip reporters and editors with a broad overview of foreign exchange, equities, bonds, money markets, commodities, oil and derivatives markets. Journalists completing the course will have the confidence to inject financial background into copy, cover market developments and explain the impact of interest rate changes. Accumulated knowledge is reviewed regularly in writing exercises based around a deepening case study that begins with a government announcement and then charts its impact on various markets. Workshops held in 2008
Development journalism standards
Journalists have an important role to play in the encouragement and defense of democracy and the freedom of speech. Organizations of journalists in all parts of the world have tried to promote the role of the journalistic profession by discussing principles and guidelines for quality journalism and by raising the standing of the profession through the systematic upgrading of skills and the adoption of codes of practice. The written codes and practical standards vary somewhat from country to country and from organization to organization, but there is a substantial overlap among mainstream publications and societies. At the basis of these efforts lies the consensus that the duty each journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility
Development of new media skills
More and more information is available on the internet, making it a valuable resource for journalists. As a consequence of the abundance of information, finding the specific information that you need, without spending too much time is becoming a challenge. In addition to this, the source of information that you can find is not always clearly indicated and for this reason, not all information can be trusted. Journalists will be able to use the internet efficiently and effectively, without spending too much time on it.
This program started in 2008.