Women – Middle East – Media and Conflict Resolution
Austrian Foreign Ministry supports network of Middle Eastern and Austrian journalists.
On 28 – 29 January, 2008 a Media Training Seminar took place at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, organised by the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. The objective of this meeting and training was to strengthen the journalists´ mutual confidence and encourage their cooperation for a further development of the in May 2007 initiated network.
Twenty female top-journalists from the Middle East, Turkey and Austria, representing a broad range of media, worked mainly on questions such as how the media could contribute to changing stereotypes and prejudices and consequently to mitigating conflicts. The discussions focussed also on the presence of women in media environment and business and the coverage of women in the media. Whether they are working for different media enterprises or as correspondents in the Middle East or for Middle East issues - women are facing similar problems.
Another purpose was to offer the participants a joint professional training. The readiness and potentials for dialogue, for the exchange of information and contributing to one’s respective media-discourse in the sense of promoting fairness and conflict solution do increase in the context of joint learning experiences. International experts presented and worked with media monitoring as an instrument of (self) critical media-analysis in order to explore and evaluate the media coverage about the Middle East conflict, the representation of “the other”, or the presence and representation of women in the media.
The Global Monitoring Media Project 2005, for example, came to the conclusion that male journalists and their comments are pre-dominant in global media. In order to make use of the potential role of media for socio-political changes, supporting women by increasing their possibilities to substantially influence their respective media discourse.
Results of the training seminar include, amongst others, intensifying the exchange and co-operation of the participants’ network and developing joint projects both within the region and with Austria. The importance of transparency, independence and fairness in media coverage was pointed out.
The training also served for raising awareness as far as the usage of language, terminology and images (i.a. pictures) are concerned. More initiatives for the protection of journalists and ensuring press freedom were claimed. The participants identified the challenge and the task to pursue more of “peace-journalism”, i.e. to cover not only the problems but also to report more about positive commitments and successes.
The training seminar is a follow up initiative based on the recommendations of the international Women Middle East conference “Women Leaders – Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East”, hosted by Foreign Minister Plassnik in Vienna in May 2007. The seminar is part of the focus of the Foreign Ministry to encourage intercultural and cross-border dialogue –in the Middle East itself as well between the Middle East and Austria.