December 20, 2010  

2-Time Pulitzer Winner Anthony Shadid Examines Media’s Role in Middle East

Anthony Shadid, a Baghdad-based New York Times foreign correspondent and winner of the 2004 and 2010 Pulitzer Prizes for International Reporting, offered an insightful, introspectice critique of the media’s role in covering the culture of, and two wars in the Middle East.

The meeting “Teaming Up: How Joint Reporting Projects Are Enriching Coverage of the Muslim World” was convened by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and held at  the Corporation’s New York offices.

The proceeding can be followed on Twitter #ICFJMidEast

In his presentation, Shadid admonished journalists to go beyond the clichés that so often dominate front page reporting on the Middle East. 

Commenting on how most reporting from the region adheres to a narrative about war, Shadid said journalists now owe readers “a more compelling reality.”  Now, he said, the media must report “a much more compelling reality.      

A panel presentation following Anthony Shadid’s talk included perspectives on the Middle East and the Muslim world from journalists who have participated in a Carnegie Corporation-supported cross-border joint reporting project.

An Israeli journalist (Ruth Eglash, social affairs reporter, The Jerusalem Post) paired with a Jordanian counterpart (Hani Hazaimeh, senior reporter, The Jordan Times), and U.S. journalists (Kelly McEvers, lead Baghdad correspondent, National Public Radio and Jamila Trindle, reporter and producer, Public Broadcasting Service)paired with colleagues from Saudi Arabia and Indonesia discussed their coverage of important topics like the Arab-Israeli conflict and the persecution of religious minorities. 

Over the past five years, ICFJ has run programs, many supported by Carnegie Corporation, that help to improve coverage of the Muslim world. In 2005, ICFJ brought two dozen Arab and U.S. journalists to Wisconsin to discuss how to improve coverage after 9/11. Two participants, an Arab and a U.S. journalist produced a manual on how to avoid stereotypes, loaded language and graphic images called Fighting Words – How Arab and American Journalists Can Break Through to Better Coverage. It was distributed in English and Arabic to newsrooms and journalism schools throughout the U.S. and Middle East.

In 2008, Carnegie Corporation supported an ICFJ conference in Istanbul, Turkey, called “Faith in Media: Improving Coverage of Islam and Other Religions.” In attendance were 20 reporters, producers and editors from 10 countries, from Fox News to the Muslim Brotherhood. The moderator was Anthony Shadid. Four pairs of journalists then embarked on joint reporting projects in Muslim countries and in the United States.

Last March, ICFJ brought together journalists from the Western and Muslim world for a conference in Alexandria, Egypt, called Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age and was funded by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. ICFJ offered a six-week online course on that topic—and then selected the best participants to go to Alexandria.  This led to robust and often passionate discussions. ICFJ also offered workshops to Pakistani and Indonesian journalists—and selected the best ones to attend the conference.

At the conference, the participants heard from a variety of experts and also received hands-on training in new technology and in opinion writing. All participants teamed up for joint-reporting projects. ICFJ held a competition for the best project and the winning team—Ruth Eglash of Israel and Hani Hazaimeh of Jordan participated in the panel.