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Conference in Morocco seeks to put Arab and African media on same page

posted 27 Jul 2011, 07:24 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 27 Jul 2011, 07:27 ]
Journalists from Arab and African countries meet in Morocco to discuss how they portray each other in the media. The conference called "Africa in the eyes of the Arab world", is designed to encourage countries to boost thier profile on the continent and in the Middle East.

ASSILAH, MOROCCO REUTERS -   Over 70 participants from Africa and the Arab broadcast media recently met in the northern Moroccan town of Assilah to discuss new ways to enhance co-operation across regions.

The conference looked to highlight the global dominance of Western media and how sub-Saharan African and Arab worlds can work together directly to tell stories from their regions independently.

Participants said that western media often portrayed both parts of the world with some msstem.scripts.isconception.

"For me it's an important gathering because now we have an opportunity perhaps to see if we can be able to see the Arab world through he eyes of the Arabs themselves," said Mebat Mwewe, an editor for Zambia's Daily Mail.

The uprisings that removed Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak four weeks later flung the Arab world into the international media spotlight.

Arab media played a central role in telling the revolution story through mainstream and social media networks and participants at the forum from other parts of Africa said they learnt a lot from their counterparts on the role of media in changing leadership.

"For the last two days we have talked about a range of issues... starting from our governments - are they democracies? Also talking about is the media is free? Are they facing the same problems? Yes. How do we get to know each other? Can we have exchange programmes? What else can we do to better our relationship?" said Hellen wiza from the Ugandan Broadcasting Corporation.

Journalists from both sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world said they would work to try and change each other's image by telling more positive stories from their regions and opening up the possibility of a new world media order.

"The West has the means to have reporters everywhere. The West has a bit more freedom in our countries and tends to be more credible than our training establishment. But the West only sees Africa and the Arabs in terms of their own interests" said Mamadou Lamine Toure, a journalist from Senegal.

With a sizeable Arab population living within the African continent participants and organisers of the forum hope future media will play a crucial role in uniting the two worlds.