World Association of News Publishers

WAN-IFRA Launches MENA Regional Programmes

WAN-IFRA Launches MENA Regional Programmes

Article ID:


WAN-IFRA remains committed to promoting media freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa, which has led to the launch of two recent initiatives in the MENA region – the Strengthening Media and Society programme and Women in News: Gender and Media Freedom programme.

By Colette Davidson

April saw big changes in the MENA region, as media professionals through two WAN-IFRA initiatives gathered in the Middle East on two separate occasions to discuss how to strengthen the role of media in developing countries as well as the promotion of women in the newsroom.

From April 16 to 18 in Amman, Jordan, 40 journalists from Egypt, Jordan and Palestine came together for three days of workshops to enhance the impact of journalism in society, strengthen digital platforms and promote reader engagement. The Strengthening Media and Society programme is a two-year engagement between WAN-IFRA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Omar Mostafa, e-content Development Manager at Dar Al Shorouk in Egypt, led two days of workshops alongside Brain Trust member Soren Svendsen, Digital Director at JP/Politikens Hus in Denmark, about improving the reach of digital in the media. By using case studies and samples, the pair showed how media organizations are already bringing such media innovations as storytelling techniques and marketing tactics to tackle their digital challenges.

“There are specific challenges related to each country of course, but most are common,” says Mostafa. “They lack strategies or plans for a digital presence, so planning and focusing on solutions and new formats could really make a difference.”

Participants appreciated the hands-on approach to the workshop, where presenters used concrete examples to convey their message on corporate strategy, revenue streams and business models.

“We use technology but without thinking strategically or in the long term,” says Riham Abu Aita, a Media Specialist at Première Urgence Internationale, who participated in the digital strategy workshop. “It’s important to think about it strategically, to plan… it was very good to see examples, and not just theory, plus it was very interactive.”

Just one week before, from April 3-9, thirty women journalists and editors from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine met in Alexandria, Egypt for the first week of WAN-IFRA’s Certified Media Management training under the Women in News programme.

Women in News has been running for six years in Southern Africa, through a strategic partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) but just officially expanded to the MENA region in April as part of an expanded partnership with Sida that runs until 2019.

“The goal is to close the gender gap in the newsroom,” says Alison Meston, director of capacity building for Women in News. “Our program helps women have confidence and skills to move up in the workplace.”

In addition to training that focused on the introduction of newsroom and media management principles, participants discussed sexual harassment and its varying cultural implications, as well as gender issues in the newsroom and the changing media landscape.

“I met some great women around the world who struggle everyday to get the job done,” says Lina El Wardani, Senior Reporter at Al Ahram in Egypt. “It was inspiring to see how each woman is trying to push the boundaries, defying stereotypes and challenges.”

As each country in the Middle East and North Africa region works through their own media challenges, WAN-IFRA intends to support men and women in the news and help them realize their potential. Despite regional challenges, the goals of the Women in News program, as well as the Strengthening Media and Society programme hope to bridge the information gap and create prosperous media organizations around the world.

“There are certain challenges that all media face,” says WAN-IFRA’s Meston. “We’re looking at how we can ensure sustainable media houses in places where the press is not free.”


Hedvig Lundstrom's picture

Hedvig Lundstrom


2016-05-24 09:14

Contact information

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...