17th November 2018
By Tom Law

ARIJ Forum To Show How Technology Can Serve Journalism

Read the original press release from ARIJ here

Amman, Nov. 17, 2018 – Award-winning ARIJ wants to give Arab investigative reporters at its upcoming 11th Annual Forum the chance to explore how technology and digital innovation can advance accountability journalism in the Arab world.

Yasmine Dabbous, chair of the ARIJ Board of Directors, said she hopes the cutting-edge agenda of the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Forum at the Dead Sea will lead to more and better use of digital technology, and to more impact the work being done by brave Arab reporters working against strong odds.

The Forum theme is going to be “The Future of Investigative Reporting: Trends, Tools and Technologies”.

“Technology is changing daily and so are journalism principles, practices and business models,” Dabbous said. “There is no constant in the field. For investigative journalists, the challenges are even bigger. How can you accurately relate all the facts in two minutes or, worse, in 40 characters? What is our role in a world where the line between facts and propaganda is blurred to the point where fact-checking barely matters?”

Dabbous added: “This Forum is an opportunity to network, ponder, brainstorm, and share. It is a chance for solutions to form and possibilities to materialize.”

Some 450 participants are expected from around the region and beyond at more than 50 training sessions and workshops.

Travel into the war-torn Arab states has become difficult. So, for a second year at the Forum, international media support groups will talk directly with their local counterparts in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. At least five groups have scheduled meetings to coincide with it at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center Managed by the Hilton, taking advantage of Jordan’s central location, and the ease of obtaining visas for many restricted nationalities.

Arab Journalists are coping with unprecedented muzzling of the media and rolling back of civil and political reforms since leaders began pushing back against the limited reforms ushered in by the brief Arab Spring of 2011.  They face editorial controls inflicted by media funders who are often autocratic regimes, rival political parties, businessmen seeking political roles, and warring militias. The Oct. 2 assassination of Saudi writer and dissident Jamal Khashoggi exposed how far some Arab states are willing to go to silence challenges to the official discourse.

Doug Haddix, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors in the US, who will present at the Forum, said, “Despite dangers and obstacles, ARIJ is helping journalists across the Arab world strengthen their reporting skills and storytelling abilities…ARIJ is playing an increasingly important role in boosting investigative journalism in a part of the world that so desperately needs accurate information.”

Among the advanced tools and techniques, the Forum will highlight are blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence. Also, fact-checking, physical and digital safety, online investigative tools, understanding company accounts, virtual reality and new trends in data journalism and immersive storytelling. Other sessions will feature mobile journalism, podcasting, combining high-tech and traditional reporting, pitching stories, and investigative interviewing.

ARIJ is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, International Media Support, the Danish Arab Partnership Program, the Open Society Foundation, the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Amman, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Since it was founded in 2005, ARIJ has trained 2,112 journalists, students and professors in investigative journalism tools and techniques and has supported through funding, coaching,  and legal review 513 investigative stories and projects. ARIJ18 partners include The Norwegian Institute for JournalistsFacebookGoogleDW Akademie, The French Agency for Media Development, the International Center for Journalists, International Journalists Networks and Google News Initiative, the Rory Peck TrustFrontline Freelance Register,  Global WitnessFinance Uncovered, Free Press UnlimitedEthical Journalism NetworkMarie Colvin Journalists’ NetworkSecurity Assistance Monitor Program at the Center for International PolicyBellingcatWomen In News – WAN-IFRAN, The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the French Embassy in Amman, The Thomson Foundation, Journalists for Human Rights , the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Reporting Project ) and the Global Network for Investigative Journalism . National sponsors are Royal Jordanian, and the Jordan-Kuwait Bank.