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Arab Media in Danger

Arab Media in Danger

The Prime Minister of Lebanon and international media personalities including Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and David Ignatius of the Washington Post will participate in an international conference in Beirut in December to draw attention to the threats against a free press in the Arab world.

The conference, organised by the World Association of Newspapers and the newspaper An-Nahar, will seek ways to support the development of independent, professional media in the Middle East. It will be held on 10 and 11 December.

Full details (in English, French and Arabic) can be found at

The event, entitled "Media in Danger - Press Under Siege", was sparked by the continuing series of attacks and murders of journalists in Lebanon, including that of An-Nahar Publisher and WAN Board Member Gebran Tueni, who was killed in a roadside bomb attack last December.

The first Gebran Tueni Award, which will annually honour a newspaper publisher or editor in the Arab world who demonstrates the free press values upheld by Gebran Tueni, will be given at the conference. The award, which carries a 10,000 Euros stipend for newspaper leadership training, will be given to an editor or publisher of an Arabic-language publication whose activity reflects a profound attachment to the freedom and independence of the press, courage, leadership, ambition and the search for high managerial and professional standards.

The Beirut conference is a continuation of a series of WAN 'Media in Danger'
conferences focussing on countries or regions where violence against the press has become endemic. Three others have taken place: in Bogota, Colombia; in the Basque region of Spain; and in Kyrgyzstan, covering the Central Asian Republics.

Sessions in Beirut will include:

- An opening session with welcome addresses by Timothy Balding, CEO of WAN, Fouad Seniora, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Nabih Berri, Speaker of the House of Parliament, Nayla Tueni, Publisher of An-Nahar and the daughter of Gebran Tueni, Ghassan Tueni, a diplomat and journalist and father of Gebran Tueni, Thomas Friedman, author and Columnist for the New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize winner, David Ignatius, Associate Editor and Columnist for the Washington Post, and Ayad Wakim, head of the Youth Shadow Government.

- A deadly profession -- journalists in danger, a panel discussion dealing with the physical risks taken by Arab journalists when carrying out their daily work and what can be done to protect them. Speakers include Jalal Amer, Editor-in-chief of Al Wasat, Yemen, Ali Hamadé, Senior Editorialist, An-Nahar, Lebanon, Yehya al Madhoun, Reporter for Sawt al Shabab, Palestinian Authority Territories, and Ismael Zayer, Editor-in-chief of Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed, Iraq. The moderator will be Rodney Pinder, Director of the International News Safety Institute.

- Controlling media through legislation, which will examine legal restrictions, limited access to information, and licensing laws that plague the press in the region. Speakers include Ali Amar, Co-founder and Publisher of Journal Hebdomadaire, Morocco, Mohammed al-Asaadi, Editor-in-chief of the Yemeni Observer, Yemen, Ali Djerri, Editor-in-Chief of El Khabar, Algeria, and Ibrahim Issa, Editor-in-chief of Al-Dustour, Egypt. The moderator will be media expert Kamel Labidi.

- Censorship and self-censorship, a panel discussion which will discuss how censorship and self-censorship is used to stifle a free press in the Arab world, and what means there are to combat this repression. Speakers include Neziha Rejiba, Editor-in-chief, Kalima on-line newspaper, Tunisia, Mazen Darwish, Editor-in-chief, Syriaview website, Syria, and Ahmed Benchemsi, Publisher and Managing Editor, Tel Quel, Morocco. Mr Friedman will moderate the panel discussion.

- Achieving economic independence and financial viability, which will examine publications in the region that have implemented successful strategies to become financially independent. Speakers include Hisham Kassem, Publisher of Al Masry Al Youm, Egypt, Talal Selman, Publisher of As-Safir, Lebanon, Omar Belhouchet, Editor-in-chief of Le Matin, Algeria, and Mohammad Alayan, Publisher of Al Ghad, Jordan. The moderator of the session will be Natasa Vuckovic Lesendric, General Manager of APM Print & Trans Press, Serbia.

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 73 national newspaper associations, newspapers and newspaper executives in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups.


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