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The Third Networking Event for Media Schools from MENA Region held at AUC New Cairo Campus

Between November 20 – 21, 2016 the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy in the American University in Cairo hosted the Third Networking Event for Media Schools from Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In various panel discussions journalists, media educators and professors from Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Spain deliberated the state of media education in the MENA and brainstormed ideas for how to facilitate exchanges not only between professors and students among the universities in the larger network but also how to promote these interactions between different groups within societies.

The two-day conference was funded by European Union’s project MedMedia, which aims to facilitate the progress of media reforms in the MENA region. The MedMedia project seeks to offer policy-makers, regulators and broadcasters access to better know-how from both sides of the Mediterranean and pair institutions in the EU with those located in the MENA region and create a more robust and effective network of institutions and experts focused on media studies. The two-day event held at the AUC was the third of its kind. The first and the second meeting was held in Casablanca and Helsinki, respectively and the fourth one will take place in the spring of 2017 in Jordan.

During the conference panelists and the audience discussed various topics ranging from how to teach students to become more critical newsreaders and analyzers and how to teach them to avoid plagiarism to the necessity of enabling students to get better practical training and experience through internships during their university studies. The opening session on Sunday was kicked off by Joseph Maria Carbonelli, the dean of Blanquerna School of Communications and International Relations, who emphasized the importance of media education in an era when students are constantly connected to the Internet and get their news increasingly from outside the traditional media outlets. Dean Carbonelli was followed by AUC provost, Sherif Sedky, (who welcomed the participants and emphasized on the importance of media education at a time of global turbulence and how ethical, professional media can shape collective action for the betterment of societies.) Last but not least, the acting head of the delegation of the European Union, Reinhold Brender, reaffirmed EU’s commitment to connect media experts on both sides of the Mediterranean in the hopes for enhancing media literacy throughout both regions.
After the opening remarks, the conference’s first panel discussion, entitled “Best Practices on Media Literacy”, kept the audience engaged. The focus of the discussion was on how to enhance students’ skills to analyze the news. The discussion moderator, Bayan Tal, a media and communications consultant at the Jordan Media Institute, sat down with panelists, Lubna Maaliki, the Director of Media and Digital Literacy at the Academy of Beirut, Sarah Mailat, instructor of media studies and a researcher at the American University in Beirut and the Lebanese American University and Lema Salem, an assistant professor of cinema and cultural studies at the Al-Quds University and an assistant professor of English literature and cultural studies at Birzeit University, who were sharing their opinions and views about youth and media in the MENA.

The second panel discussion of the day, entitled “Strategies for Bridging the Gap from Journalism and Mass Communication Education to industry”, focused on issues pertaining to the transition from university to work life. Panelists, Amal el Masri, CEO of J.Walter Thompson Cairo and GAPP School Board Member, Ramy Radwan, TV presenter and former anchor on ONtv and Ten Network and journalist Tarek Saed, former editor in chief of Al Badeel, journalist at Masry Al Youm and current president of the Egyptian Editors Forum  agreed that internships and practical training opportunities for students have to be increased and included in media programs. The panel was moderated by JRMC Professor of Practice Kim Fox.

At the end of day one, Professor Naila Hamdy, Chair of JRMC moderated a roundtable discussion of abstract submission for the The Handbook of Media Studies in MENA Region, which will be completed by the fourth network meeting event.  

The second day of the conference was more focused on hands-on exercises and brainstorming ideas. Assistant Dean, Laila Elmoshneb moderated a session on partnership. The participants were divided into two groups: each group sought tangible ways to increase community engagement, partnership and awareness of media literacy. At the end of the day both groups presented two concept notes for exchange programs. The groups took turns presenting their projects, to a committee of juries; Ms. Dahlia El Tayeb, Director of International Programs, Office of strategic and International Initiatives, Ms. Simona Campidano, Proposal Officer, Office of Sponsored Programs and Anna Lindh who commented on the concept notes from a technical perspective according to the criteria: Innovation, community Engagement and Triggering Change. Concept notes will be used as the basis for future projects and collaboration.

During the final session of the conference dean of the Jordan Media Institute Dr. Bassem Twississ and Professor Sakher Khaswaneh discussed details of the next meeting to be hosted by their institution in Jordan.