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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Arab Press Freedom to be explored at Beirut Conference

The 2nd Arab Press Freedom Forum, to be held in Beirut, Lebanon, next month, will provide an overview of press developments in the Arab world, from the latest government policies to case studies of newspapers that combine editorial independence with commercial success.

The event, organised by the World Association of Newspapers in collaboration with Lebanon’s An-Nahar newspaper, will include four sessions on topics of urgent concern to newspapers and media experts from across the Middle East.

For more information about the event, to be held on 9 and 10 December next, contact Kajsa Tornroth, Co-Director of Press Freedom Programmes at the Paris-based WAN, by e-mail at

The 2nd Arab Press Freedom Forum takes the theme, "Fighting Back: Challenges and Opportunities for the Arab Press". The sessions include:

"Backsliders and the usual suspects - the latest government policies that affect the press", which will address the recent government clampdowns on independent media in several Arab countries, and how the media has reacted.

"Combing editorial independence with commercial success," which will focus on independent Arab newspapers that have become profitable yet still maintain their independence and a critical stance towards those in power. Confirmed speakers include Egyptian Publisher Hisham Kassem, Rajeh Khoury a Political Analyst for An-Nahar in Lebanon and Ali Anouzla, Editor of Al-Massae in Morocco.

"Blogs, an alternative way of telling the news," which is dedicated to the increasing role of blogs and alternative news channels in the Arab world. Speakers in the session include Mohammad Azraq, a blogger from Bahrain, Wael Abbas, a blogger for Misr Digital blog in Egypt and Wadih Tueni, IT Manager for the An-Nahar Newspaper in Lebanon.

"How to best address the challenges faced by newspapers," which will examine the existing structures for independent Arab media professionals to work together for the common good. Speakers include Rafik Khoury, Editor in Chief of Al Anwar Newspaper in Lebanon, Said Essoulami, Director of the CMF-MENA Center in Morocco, and Abdelrahim Abdallah, Journalism Unit Coordinator at the Media Institute/Birzeit University in Palestine.

Plus more speakers to be announced.

The event will also feature the presentation of the second Gebran Tueni Award, which annually honours a newspaper publisher or editor in the Arab world who demonstrates the free press values upheld by Gebran Tueni, the An-Nahar publisher and WAN Board Member who was killed in a roadside bomb attack in December 2005. The award, which carries a 10,000 Euros stipend for newspaper leadership training, will be given to an editor or publisher of an Arabic-language publication whose activity reflects a profound attachment to the freedom and independence of the press, courage, leadership, ambition and the search for high managerial and professional standards.

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 76 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 10 regional and world-wide press groups.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications, WAN, 7 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 75005 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail:


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