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From Corruption to Racism - Moroccan Journalists Tackle Tricky Issues During MDI Training PDF Print


Dates: 28 May – 1 June 2012

Region: Casablanca, Morocco

By Richard Cookson

Imagine that you are a photographer on a small local newspaper. The country’s biggest manufacturer of football kit is based in your home-town and is your paper’s largest advertiser. One day, the head of the football company calls you and asks you not to take any more photographs that show equipment made by his rivals. If you do as he says, he promises you a week-long luxury holiday; if you refuse, he will withdraw all of his advertising, which will spell the end of the paper. What do you do?

This is one of the ethical problems that 17 Moroccan journalists grappled with on a 5 day Responsible Journalism course in Casablanca, at the end of May, organized by the Media Diversity Institute.

They considered six similar scenarios that demanded careful consideration and ethical decision-morroccomayjunemidlemaking. They discussed the foundations of ethical behaviour for journalists – accuracy, impartiality, integrity, privacy and public interest – and how ethics can be put into practice in busy newsrooms.

The training also helped the participants develop their understanding of diversity in Morocco and improve their professional skills so that all sections of society have the chance to be heard and contribute to public debate.

The participants also heard from representatives of civil society groups who spoke about a wide range of issues, from the shocking number of children held in Moroccan prisons and detention centres without trial, to the media portrayal of the Amazigh minority. An anti-corruption expert also talked to them about the crucial role journalists can play in tackling bribery and how they can go about investigating it.

LeSoirSNIPAfter two days in the classroom, the journalists pitched ideas for features they wanted to write about minority groups. Over the following two days, they produced reportage on a range of issues – including racist attacks on sub-saharans in Casablanca and Rabat, the experiences of Malians who have to come to Morocco to escape from the war in their country, and the experiences of divorced women in Morocco. One group also wrote about the only Jewish museum in the Arab world, which is found in Casablanca.  The material the journalists produced will be published by the newspapers they work for.

For example, the story on racist attacks on sub-saharans made the front page of Le Soir, one of the major newspapers in Morocco.

At the end of the week, the trainers – Safi Naciri, a well-known editor on Moroccan public radio, and Richard Cookson, a British print and TV journalist – encouraged the participants to think practically about how they could incorporate some of the new skills they had learned into their day-jobs.

The course was organised within the framework of the Media Diversity Institute’s 2 year project ‘Media Evolution: Towards an Inclusive, Responsible & Independent Media in Morocco’, supported by the European Union Delegation, and UK & Swiss Embassies in Rabat.

It was one of 7 training courses for journalists, among many other activities, including round table debates, training for NGOs and TV programmes, that will be organised during the life of the project. The objectives of the project are to encourage a public debate on the future of the Moroccan media, ensure greater coverage of social diversity in the media, improve freedom of expression and access to information, ensure greater responsibility by the media through self-regulation, and improve respect of media freedom by the government.

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