Parachute Journalism vs Journalism of Depth

Major developments of the likes of Iraq, Darfur, and Somalia arise from a host factors (historical, political, social, economic, and cultural) crossing several layers of geography (local, national and transnational).

Complexity is at the core of each issue, and understanding the origins, the key factors and actors requires a keen eye for detail, a deep sense of history and appreciation for socio-cultural specifics.

It becomes apparent that the demands of the “24-hour News Cycle” can seriously compromise the requirements for covering such events.

As the misinformation of the ‘other’ (in this case being the Arab-Islamic East) and the misrepresentation of war continue, the gap in cultural respect and understanding will continue to exist.

This session will take a hard look at whether “deep reporting” is possible and if so what innovative ideas are there to tackle this issue.

Moderator – Rageh Omaar - Presenter, Witness (Al Jazeera English)

Panelists

1. Fahmy Howeidy – columnist and deputy chief editor for Al Ahram newspaper.
2. Dahr Jamail – independent journalist who writes for several outlets.
3. Martin Bell – former BBC correspondent.
4. Samir Aita -  editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique in Arabic
5. Abdel Wahab Badrakhan - editor-elect of the Al Jazeera newspaper

Biographies

Rageh Omaar - Presenter, Witness
Before joining the Witness team at Al Jazeera English, Rageh Omaar worked for the BBC as Developing World Correspondent and most recently as Africa Correspondent. Rageh has covered stories ranging from drought in Ethiopia to devastating floods in Mozambique. His reports during the 2003 Iraq war made him a household name. BBC news bulletins were syndicated across the US, where the Washington Post labeled him the 'Scud Stud'. More recently he wrote the biography Only Half of Me: Being a Muslim in Britain and told the human story of the Battle for Iraq in his book Revolution Day.
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Fahmy Howeidy - Deputy Chief Editor, Al Ahram Newspaper
Fahmy Howeidy is a columnist and deputy chief editor for Al Ahram newspaper. His weekly articles are published in Al Ahram and syndicated to seven Arab newspapers in Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. He also publishes a weekly article in Al Sharq Al Awsat. He specialises in contemporary Islamic thought and Arab and Islamic world affairs and has authored numerous books including: The Quran and the Sultan, Iran from Inside, Taliban: God’s Soldiers in the Wrong Battle, Incomplete Religiosity, Islam in China, For Islam and Democracy, and Citizens not Dhimmis. His research covers Islam in the former Soviet Union, Muslims in Western Africa, the resistance experience in Bosnia, and the Jews of Islam.
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Dahr Jamail - Independent Journalist
Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who is now writing for Mother Jones' website, Inter Press Service, the Asia Times and many other outlets. His reports have also been published with The Nation, the Sunday Herald, Islam Online, the Guardian, and the Independent to name just a few. Jamail's dispatches and hard news stories have been translated into French, Polish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. On radio as well as television, Dahr reports for Democracy Now!, the BBC, and numerous other stations around the globe. Jamail is also special correspondent for Flashpoints. He has spent a total of 8 months in occupied Iraq as one of only a few independent U.S. journalists in the country. In the Middle East, Dahr has also has reported from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
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Martin Bell - Former BBC Correspondent, UNICEF Ambassador
As one of the most distinguished foreign affairs reporters of his generation, Martin Bell was among those who defined the term “war correspondent”. He was a BBC correspondent for 34 years, reporting from 80 countries and 11 wars, from Vietnam to Bosnia. He was wounded by mortar fire in Sarajevo in 1992. In 1997 he was elected as the first Independent MP in the House of Commons for nearly 50 years. Mr Bell is the author of three books, including In Harm’s Way about the practice and theory of war reporting. His sparse, uncompromising style of journalism won him the Royal Television Society’s Reporter of the Year award in 1977, and again in 1993. He was awarded an OBE in 1992. In 2001 he was appointed as Unicef Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies. His UNICEF assignments have included Bosnia, Kosovo, Tajikistan, Malawi, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Darfur.
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Samir Aita - Chief Editor, Le Monde Diplomatique (Arabic Edition)
Samir Aita graduated in engineering with post graduate degree in Social Anthropology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and an executive management from the Centre de Perfectionnement aux Affaires (HEC). In 2000, he created the
www.mafhoum.com Arab information web site, and in 2002 the Arab decision makers project www.arabdecision.org. In 2000, he started the Arabic edition of Le Monde diplomatique on the web www.mondiploar.com, and then created Le Monde diplomatique editions arabes which now prints 700,000 issues in the Arab world, in partnership with several Arabic newspapers. He is currently the editor in Chief and General Manager of Le Monde diplomatique editions arabes and the General Manager of A Concept Mafhoum.
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Abdel Wahab Badrakhan - Editor-elect, Al Jazeera newspaper
Abdelwahab Badrakhan started his career in journalism in 1973 at Al-Nahar newspaper in Beirut covering student activities. When civil war broke out in Lebanon, overnight the student - journalist became a war correspondent despite having no previous war experience, training in self protection, or guarantees. Beginning in 1980 he covered the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Mujahideen in exile in Pakistan, and many other international stories, providing a basis for his thesis at the Sorbonne on Arab immigrant journalism. In 1988 he joined Al-Hayat in London. In 1998 he became deputy editor-in-chief. In 2006, he joined Al Jazeera network as editor-elect of its international newspaper that will launch in the near future.


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