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Stimulating the Commitment of National News Agency Reporters to Strengthen Civil Peace

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31 August 2017
Stimulating the Commitment of National News Agency Reporters to Strengthen Civil Peace
Hala Wehbe, a National News Agency (NNA) reporter from Al Qaa in the Bekaa, arrived early to Beirut on the sunny hot Friday of July 14, 2017. She was eager to meet, for the first time, her colleagues from other National News Agency offices in Mount Lebanon, South, North, Akkar and Bekaa. Hala is one of 14 NNA reporters who participated in a four-day media training titled: “Professional Media Coverage Standards for Strengthening Civil Peace”. This training, which is funded by Germany, was organized by Maharat Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in partnership with the National News Agency at the Ministry of Information.

Participants in this training were sensitized on the concept of non-discrimination and on the respect of the “Other”, a key objective of this programme.

They were also equipped with the skills and tools to cover initiatives and topics in a conflict-sensitive approach and from peace building and social stability perspectives.

“I was convinced by the methodology used in the training and the programme was resourceful”, said Hala.

Ibrahim Hamza, National News Agency reporter from Tebnin, South Lebanon, said that “National media, when used in a conflict-sensitive and objective manner, can play a vital role in de-escalating conflict and building peace. That’s what participants have learned from this training”.

This training was also an opportunity to introduce the “Journalists’ Pact for Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon”. The Pact was signed by 34 media institutions in 2013 and was drawn up based on the input of the media outlets. It reaffirms the Lebanese media’s leading role in rejecting discrimination and promoting civil peace and covers media ethics, duties of journalists and media institutions. Since 2016, UNDP has been organizing series of meetings in North, South and Mount Lebanon and Bekaa aimed at introducing the Pact to media personnel and local reporters and advocating for conflict-sensitive reporting.

“Now that I know about this Pact, I will abide by its clauses and apply it whenever possible”, said Fadi Tabib, National News Agency reporter in Jounieh, Mount Lebanon.

During the distribution of the training certificates, National News Agency Director Laure Sleiman highlighted the participants’ eagerness and enthusiasm despite crossing long distances to attend this training every day in Beirut. She wished for more similar activities that aim at building the skills of a key state institution.

Participants had to apply the skills they acquired by going to the field and preparing stories on topics of their choice but that are linked to civil peace and social stability. These articles will be published on the National News Agency website.

"We were like calm water in a well, but this training has turned us into a vibrant running spring. We feel empowered and enthusiastic. We can now keep up with the techniques, theories and technology of today!", said Mohammad Berri, local National News Agency reporter from Bent Jbeil.