The media in Lebanon play a major role in peace building. However, the media can also wield considerable influence on fueling conflicts during sensitive periods.
With the objective of strengthening the media’s capacity to contribute to dialogue, conflict-sensitive reporting and social cohesion, UNDP produced the “Journalists’ Pact for Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon” in 2013 in collaboration with the Ministry of Information. The result of an extensive participatory approach, the Pact was endorsed by 29 national media outlets. Between 2015 and 2017, UNDP, in collaboration with Maharat Foundation, monitored its implementation by publishing media monitoring studies covering all topics and themes included in the Pact.
In its efforts to follow up on the implementation of the Pact and make use of the recommendations put forward in the media monitoring studies, UNDP, funded by Germany through the German Development Bank KfW, partnered with Thomson Reuters Foundation to develop a media toolbox. National media representatives and chief editors gathered on January 17, 2019, to discuss and approve the first draft of the media toolbox. This toolkit is intended to help media practitioners and institutions implement the Pact and incorporate it at the institution level. During April and May 2019, 67 journalists, chief editors, editors, reporters and news anchors from 19 national media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers and websites) participated in the Training of Trainers on the developed toolbox.
For journalist Tony Haykal from VDL Radio Station (100.3 FM), the training was a rich experience at the professional level, especially that it was an opportunity to meet with colleagues form other media institutions.
Participants actively took part in the exercises from the toolkit and discussions with the trainers around conflict-sensitive reporting, the role of journalists, ethical dilemmas, editorial policies in Lebanon and covering controversial issues.
“This training was unique. The ideas were conveyed in a very practical and interactive way,” said Nour Mkhadder, editor at Annahar Web and Reporter at Sawt Al Shaab Radio Station. “It also showed us that media institutions, no matter their differences, can apply the ‘Journalist Pact for Strengthening Civil Peace’ that is based on the ethics of our profession.”
Hanane Merhej, Senior Reporter at Sawt El Mada Radio Station agreed with Nour. For her, the training was a wakeup call. “The training highlighted the responsibility we have towards the audience. I enjoyed it and benefited so much from the experiences of both the trainers and trainees,” she added.
Participants were encouraged to help with the dissemination of the Pact by training others within their media institutions on the toolkit.