17 September, 2018 — The UNESCO Amman office and Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) completed a series of workshops on professional reporting on issues related to human rights and violent extremism for volunteers and staff from Annaja7 Radio. During the sessions, JHR programme manager and media trainer Mohammad Shamma, has been focusing on two main themes: the role of media in countering violent extremism among the youth audience; and, the human-rights sensitive approach to reporting on acts of violent extremism.
This important initiative falls within UNESCO’s mandate of encouraging diversity and freedom of expression and represents a joint initiative between two important projects. The “Support to Media in Jordan” (STMJ) project has been implemented by UNESCO since 2014, with significant partnership and financial support from the European Union. Recently, with collaboration and funding from the Government of Canada, the UNESCO Amman office and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT), have begun implementing the “Prevention of Violent Extremism through Youth Empowerment in Jordan, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia” project.
The instructional component has included a series of workshops and on-the-job mentorship for volunteers and staff at Annaja7 Radio, which is located in both Amman and Irbid. Yasmine Zuhairi is the CEO of the community radio which targets youth aged 18-35. “Youth can apply to become trained broadcasters through the free, three-month training program”, shared Ms. Zuhairi. Many of the young people partaking in this workshop had benefitted from this program and most participants were from Irbid.
The workshops engaged attendees, working to develop a range of angles, ideas and structures for feature stories about sensitive issues in Jordan. Through group work, participants constructed radio programs that actively sought to integrate an approach to reporting that was considerate of human rights and aware of biases such as classism and racism. “Through these sessions, it was important to open a dialogue about how to deal with certain sensitive societal issues through the media. Participants were very accepting of a variety of viewpoints and this provided for good debate”, shared Mr. Shamma of JHR.
Mohammad Farajallah, a sound engineer at Annaja7 Radio, was thrilled to be involved in the training. “The best part was learning how to properly cover human rights reporting and shape the content sensitively, including during interviews with victims. I think that I now will be more aware of how to write reports and how to do interviews with victims, especially people who are imprisoned or who have been raped”.
Najwa Shannaq, the host of an Annaja7 Radio show focused on youth, is not a stranger to dealing with delicate issues. “I have learned a lot about human rights and extremism. The training made me realize the importance of properly selecting the correct wording and terminologies. While I have studied journalism for five years, this is the first time we have talked openly and broadly about extremism and its significance in media”, she shared. “I am more aware now of the importance of staying as objective as possible during my show. Previously I would force my opinion on the audience; now I will work hard to keep my opinion to myself and address the issue objectively, the way journalists should”.