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ARIJ to hold 9th Arab investigative journalism forum in Jordan in December

Event marks network’s 10th anniversary, will host Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

By JT - Nov 02,2016 - Last updated at Nov 02,2016

AMMAN — The ninth annual forum for Arab Investigative journalists is scheduled to be held at Dead Sea next month, the organisers said on Wednesday.

Held by the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) network, the forum will feature over 25 panels and workshops on topics such as personal safety of reporters in conflict, cross-border investigations and telling stories on multiple platforms, according to an ARIJ statement.

The forum, held under the theme “ARIJ: a decade of investigating the Arab world; seeing, hearing, exposing”, coincides with the network’s10th anniversary. 

More than 320 Arab and international investigative editors, journalists, trainers, academics and media students will attend the December 1-3, 2016 event, the eighth in Jordan since the creation of the Amman-based ARIJ in 2005.

ARIJ has trained over 1,600 journalists, editors, media professors and students, and supported the creation of in-house investigative teams in existing media in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Palestine, Yemen and Lebanon.

At least six Arab universities are teaching ARIJ’s three-hour credit course on the basics of investigative reporting.

Veteran journalist Walter “Robby” Robinson will be the keynote speaker at the December conference. 

He led the Boston Globe Spotlight team’s Pulitzer Prize winning investigation into the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, and is now the newspaper’s editor at large.

Robinson, whose character was portrayed by Michael Keaton in the 2016 Academy award-winning movie “Spotlight”, will encourage fellow Arab colleagues working against all odds to continue uncovering the truth for the benefit of democracy, accountability and the rule of law.

The forum is held amid a crackdown on free speech and independent media as well as worsening media polarisation and manipulation across much of the region nearly six years after the Arab Spring, the ARIJ statement said.

Yosri Fouda, a leading investigative journalist and one of the founders of ARIJ, will be delivering training at the conference, along with Australia’s renowned mobile journalism trainer Ivo Burum and members of the team that exposed the “Panama Papers”, the world’s largest cross-border investigation to date.

Other trainers include Dima Khatib, chief editor of AJ+, an online news and current events channel from Aljazeera Media network, and David Ritsher, senior supervising editor for the Centre for Investigative Reporting’s digital video production team.

ARIJ Executive Editor Rana Sabbagh said the network has succeeded in a decade to institutionalise the culture of investigative reporting in a region where “accountability reporting” is almost absent from Arab newsrooms due to political, economic, professional, legal and societal challenges as well as local media ownership structures.

“We have worked in an almost impossible environment. Hence, it is the right of everyone who contributed to the success of this pan-Arab project, including colleagues who have produced over 400 hard-hitting, fact-based investigations in print and video form” to celebrate the activation of the role of the “Fourth Estate”, Sabbagh, a former chief editor of  The Jordan Times, said.

She added that ARIJ has been working t serve public in the region, amidst “civil wars and political turmoil”, in addition to a regression in freedom, lack of pluralism and difficulty in accessing information.

The ARIJ board, Sabbagh added, will take a series of new measures that will be disclosed at the closing session of the conference “to give ARIJ greater flexibility and agility” to reach more Arab journalists.

The conference ends with a gala dinner to honour the best ARIJ investigations of 2016.

ARIJ is funded by the Copenhagen-based International Media Support, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Open Society Foundation and the Netherlands embassy in Amman.

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