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United Nations Development Programme
Media Training: Reporting at Times of Conflict and Societal Polarization
PSCAR - Promoting Social Cohesion in the Arab Region
Beirut - Lebanon
28 - 30 Aug 2018
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Beirut - Lebanon

The status of many members and groups of Arab society is in flux. With the growing number of refugee communities, the rise of extremist platforms and groups, rampant corruption and highly politicized sectarian and nationalistic rhetoric, the opportunities for participation in social and political processes feel limited to many. Societies are divided, their social fabrics are frayed, making them less able to cope with the crises they are facing. Yet, we live in a world where technology, information and media flows should help to build a more inclusive society that celebrates diversity and identity.  This is a region that speaks the same language and therefore the transnational potential of the Arabic media is profound. Journalists should be raising awareness amongst citizens on the importance of a cohesive society, developing bonds and cross-cutting ties that overcome its divisions and providing solutions to prevent exclusion.

The relationship between the media and social cohesion is a complex one, but there is no denying that media coverage shapes society’s perceptions of reality and “the other”. In 2017, UNDP commissioned Thomson Reuters Foundation to develop a training handbook that can offer journalists across the Arabic-speaking guidance on how to report on issues in a manner that might contribute to social cohesion across the region. The aim of the handbook is to initiate a discussion and contribute to develop training material that can be used by various parties to advance the role journalists can play in developing stronger bonds between all members of the community, marginalized or otherwise.

It is important to recognize the conditions under which Arab journalists are currently performing their roles. It is a known fact that the media milieu across the region is highly politicized and subject to many of the same issues that afflict both political and civil society.  The case studies and exercises adopted in this handbook will therefore take into account some of the structural circumstances, hierarchies and decision-making practices that afflict output. The handbook, which should be viewed as a living document, seeks to reflect ethical media practice and principles.

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The aim of the Regional Programme is to serve as a bridge between country and global initiatives, and facilitate cooperation among countries sharing similar geographic, social and economic conditions. The work of the Regional Programme is an integral part of RBAS work. It represents four out of seven outcome areas of the UNDP Strategic Plan (2014-2017).

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