The IFJ in partnership with UNESCO’s Office in Beirut and in collaboration with the Directorate of Higher Education at the Lebanese Education Ministry , ran a regional conference on 15-16 February in Beirut, Lebanon to discuss a “Model university course on the Safety of Journalists”.
The conference aimed to create an enabling environment for future journalists, allowing them to cover news in a safer and more professional way, taking into consideration the local contexts, as well as international standards in place. It also served to update journalism curricula in universities, through adapting and integrating different components of the new safety course.
The conference was attended by more than 40 participants representing universities in Lebanon and selected Arab countries (Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Oman). Diplomats, government officials, media professionals, as well as international experts from UNESCO and IFJ attended the event.
The world is becoming more dangerous for journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “Around 2,300 journalists were killed in the past 25 years; an average of two journalists per week,” said Boumelha, pointing at the Arab countries as the most dangerous zones for journalists, with a particular focus on Iraq and Syria. The IFJ president addressed the issue of impunity and its dangerous implications. “Massacres committed against journalists are going unnoticed,” he said. “Students must understand the risks related to journalism. They must be taught to keep safe when covering news in conflict areas and natural disasters,” added Boumelha, considering that “academia is an essential part of the journalism body.”
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