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Arab Free Press Forum Examines Region's Media in Transition

The annual Arab Free Press Forum is returning to Tunisia, which sparked the popular uprisings in the Arab world, to examine and assess the region's independent news media in transition and to help it develop.

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The event, to be held from 24 to 26 November in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, will bring

together media professionals from across the Arab world to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, experience and best practice. As part of WAN-IFRA's commitment to supporting the independent press in the Arab region, the Forum reinforces longstanding engagements between news media and the freedom of expression community.

Topics covered during the conference, organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), include professional standards to strengthen editorial autonomy; sustainable business as a key to the independence of professional media; innovation; legislative barriers to independence; safety, and much more.

Full details can be found at http://www.arabfreepressforum.org

Sessions and speakers include:

- Burning Issues for the Independent Arab Press, featuring Omar Belhouchet, Publisher of El Watan newspaper; Rana Sabbagh, Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism; Kamel Labidi of the Tunisian civil society group Vigilance; and Tarek Atia, Egyptian Media Development Programme. The session will also include a presentation of UNESCO's World Trends Report on Freedom of Expression and Media Development by Courtney Radsch, UNESCO programme specialist.

- How to Separate Fact from Fiction Online, which will address online information and how to separate "news from noise." The session will be conducted by Malachy Browne, News Editor at Storyful, the world's first social media news agency.

- The Media Ecosystem – Ensuring Independence and Survival, with Fatemah Farag, Founder and Director of Welad Elbalad Media Services; Sami Ben Gharbia of online Tunisian news site nawaat.org; Leila Nachawati, Syria Untold, professor of Communications at Carlos III University Madrid; and Nicolas Beau, editor of Bakchich.

- Ethics and Self Regulation – the keys to a successful independent press, with Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network; Nejiba Hamrouni, General Secretary of the Tunisian Journalists' Union; Hisham Almiraat, Global Voices Advocacy Director and co-founder of TalkMorocco and Mamfakinch; and Monir Zaarour from the International Federation of Journalists.

- Online Commenting: Emerging Best Practices, a presentation of a WAN-IFRA report on encouraging civil conversations in the digital world, by Larry Kilman, Deputy CEO and Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs at WAN-IFRA.

- Media in transitional democracies: Is their role to report the news or lead the news agenda through activism? featuring Fatimah el-Issawi, research fellow at POLIS, London School of Economics; David Hoffman, Founder and President Emeritus of Internews, author of "Citizens Rising: Independent Journalism and the Spread of Democracy"; Magdi Abdelhadi, freelance journalist and former Arab affairs analyst for the BBC; and Rami Jarrah, award-winning citizen journalist and founder of the ANA New-Media Association.

- Under Surveillance - A "Mini Masterclass", which will provide practical advice on cyber-security for journalists with award-winning author and security expert Alan Pearce. The interactive session will emphasise the protection of sources and how to best safeguard information online.

- How multi-media newsrooms can enrich your content, a session organised by Canal France Internationale with Nabil Wakim, online editor at leMonde.fr; Jumana Ghunaimat from Al Ghad newspaper; Fathy Abu Hattab of Al Masry Al Youm; and Nour Hemici of Canal France Internationale.

The Forum will open in the evening of Sunday 24 November with a gallery exhibition of local Tunisian cartooning talent, highlighting freedom of expression through satire and addressing its role in the daily news agenda.  It will also include a networking café, a lunch session on the UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, and an Ethical Journalism Network seminar on ethics for Arab journalists with the Norwegian Institute of Journalism.

The 6th Arab Free Press Forum will be held in partnership with UNESCO, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), International Media Support (IMS), Canal France International (CFI), Free Press Unlimited, the Ethical Journalism Network, Egypt Media Development Program, Google Egypt, "Yakadha" Association for Democracy and a Civil State (Vigilance), NAWAAT.org (Independent collective of Tunisian bloggers), the Tunisian Centre for Press Freedom and the African Centre for Training of Journalists and Communicators (CAPJC) and Beirut's An-Nahar newspaper.

www.wan-ifra.org

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