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I was graciously invited by my friend Suhail Al-Gosaibi to participate in a workshop about successful negotiation. The workshop was conducted by Peter Nixon. What I subconsciously knew or gleaned over most of my adult life, was elegantly focused by Mr. Nixon in a space of just over 2 hours. The event was an eye opener on many levels. I’m still digesting the information I received and look forward to going through the handouts and explore the issues raised more thoroughly.

The event was hosted in The Capital Club whose premises is in the 51st floor of the East Wing of the Bahrain Financial Harbour. The location is awe inspiring, even more so when you look out of the floor-to-ceiling windows and view the complete and uninterrupted vista of Manama and Muharraq in the distance. I suspect that on a good day, you could see most of Bahrain from that location.

But wait, the wonder doesn’t stop there. If, the call of nature beckons, believe me you need to heed it immediately, because as I discovered, the views awaiting you even from the bathroom are even more breathtaking! Here’s a quick shot:

Capital Club bathroom - 51st Floor of the East Wing of the Bahrain Financial Harbour building
Capital Club bathroom - 51st Floor of the East Wing of the Bahrain Financial Harbour building

Now imagine standing at one of those urinals; would you want to finish quick and leave?

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M.Report S01E26 – Friends and an Interview with RSF

The last two days were very fruitful. I have had the privilege of interacting with an excellent group of people whose main concern is to share their views with the world, and expose the wrongs in their societies in order for those to be addressed and corrected. Although I cannot say that the correction has been effected by society and/or governments, but at least they have been brought out in the open and the hope is that they will be tackled, ultimately.

Today’s presentations were a bit more technical in nature where we discussed how to popularise your blog, how to use the available tools and sites to spread your message and how to monetise your efforts.

RSF's Clothilde Le Coz I also took the opportunity to interview Clothilde Le Coz, of RSF’s Internet Freedom Desk who shared her views and explained her role in the organisation. She also provided some insights on how RSF goes about its business.

Now that the formal part of the workshop is over, and the M.Report has been uploaded, it’s time to shower, change and go out to have dinner in the world famous Rick’s Café with some new and old friends. Should be quite fun!

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M.Report S01E25 – The Intersection between Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media

M.Report S01E25 – The Intersection between Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media

This is my contribution to the journalism workshop I am attending at the moment where I was privileged to be on the panel discussing the intersection between the old and new media. On the panel with me were Emmabenji (emmabenji.canalblog.com, tunisia), Mohammed Zainabi (zainabi.com, morocco), Yazid Haddar (psycho.dzblog.com, algeria) and Daoud Kuttab (ammannet.net, jordan – visiting professor at Princeton Uni).

Considering that the basic human activity of communication, has been with us since the first human painted on cave walls, it’s surprising that when it comes to a modern activity of writing on a largely personal online diary, elicits such a need as to pigeon-hole people and their generated thoughts into categories such as “journalism” or any other adjectives.

This – I feel – has been given rise by society and maybe mainstream media in particular, to distinguish themselves as “the” source for news and valid opinion, while any other is simply invalid or at least less worthy of consideration.

History tells us that this is the same reaction when the radio first started its mainstream transmission with the reaction of newsprint, and also when television was first introduced and it received its fare share of ridicule by newsprint, radio and even the theatre!

Maybe by pigeon-holing, mainstream media think they can “wheedle out” the good from the bad, again thinking in that ubiquitous “black and white” methodology, a condescending approach by assuming that they alone can select what is good for us.

But with such a huge platform, it is impossible to apply these methods. Old metrics simply won’t do. What we have now is a huge crowd-sourced material, terabytes of information which is published every single day, and with the way that the fusion of communication methods currently experienced – text, audio, video, animation, and photographs – this trend will only escalate.

Yes, traditional media is supposed to have the safeguards to at least distinguish between fact and opinion, but in today’s connected world this is not so critical.

The point; therefore, is not simple to try to draw a line between a blog and main-stream media to achieve distinction and simple categorisation, but employ critical thinking and other skills to evaluate what is being presented, regardless of source.

What blogs provide is a huge base of crowd sourced information. Sifting through that information and evaluating it is not a small exercise, but categorising it with the old “journalistic standards” will not achieve much. We have to recognise that with this wealth of published information, decision makers have a new tool that they can employ which they never had access to before:

What we have now – thanks to the explosion of blogging – is an ocean of raw data, one if mined properly, could give them an excellent understanding of the feelings and needs of “normal people” – the street – that traditional media with its inbuilt sanitorial control could never give them.

How one uses that facility, it is up to them.

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BYSHR’s Electronic Journalism Freedom and the Role of Blogs in Supporting Human Rights Workshop

Mohammed Al-Maskati and myself participated in the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights’ Electronic Journalism Freedom and the Role of Blogs in Supporting Human Rights Workshop last night at the Bahrain Human Rights Society’s premises in Adliya.

Mohammed Al-Othman presenting during the BYSHR workshop

The inaugural session was presented by the Al-Wasat columnist Mohammed Al-Othman in which he discussed the ethics of journalism, the repercussions of the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 and how it impacts journalism and blogging. He outlined the Journalists Union analysis on that law and outlined their recommendations on what should be changed and why. Al-Othman’s session was enriching to say the very least. I was not aware of the analysis done on such a law nor its background before his presentation.

Although I make it a point to read his column daily, I have never met him before, so last night was a very good opportunity to shake his hand and exchange cards. I also discovered that we have somethings in common, one of which is having the pleasure of having some tea with the public prosecutor!

Mohammed E. Al-Maskati presenting during the BYSHR workshop

Mohammed Al-Maskati took over in the second session in which he presented the trials and tribulations of blogging in general and the impact of the law and restrictions of freedoms of expression in Bahrain on blogs and forums. He also listed the times where moderators and bloggers have been presented to the legal system as well as the list of blocked sites in Bahrain.

Mohammed’s excellent presentation could be downloaded (pdf) from here.

I was the last to go and my presentation was the Ethics of Blogging. I took the time to translate them into Arabic. I gave examples of how implementing these ethics would not only protect the blogger legally, but would also make the content of the blog much more professional and credible.

My presentation including the handouts in Arabic and English could be downloaded (zip) from here.

The workshop continues over the next three days and I think if the first day is anything to go by, it is certainly worth attending. I have enjoyed spending some time with so many enthusiastic people who I hope will start blogging or continue blogging if they already have a blog and implement the ideas that were discussed at the workshop.

I would like to thank the BYSHR’s Mohammed Abdulnabi Al-Maskati for inviting us and for their hospitality. I hope that we can contribute more to the community by being involved in more of these activities.

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‘Press Freedom and the role of blogs in supporting Human Rights’ Workshop

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights will be conducting a training workshop about Press Freedoms, the law and how it views freedoms of expression, practical demonstrations and tutorials on blogging and how to circumvent blocks to reach the content you require.

This workshop will take place between 1-5 March, 2007 in the Bahrain Human Rights Society’s premises for the first two days (1 and 3) the latter days will be conducted at Wa’ad’s.

Both Mohammed Al-Maskati (not to be confused with the other Mohammed Maskati who heads the BYSHR!) and myself will be presenting on the first day (1st March) from 6:20PM through to 8:30PM and our topics will be “Bahraini Blogs, between freedom and internet blocks”.

The whole workshop is very well worth the attendance. Please call the BYSHR for more information.

Download the program (arabic) in pdf format.

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