Talking about Independent Journalism in Northern Lebanon

Posted on January 14, 2008. Filed under: independent journalism | Tags: , , , |

Checkpoint into Nahr el Bared

Driving up to Nahr el Bared last Friday with my friend Tariq and another journalist I’d just met, we had a very different kind of conversation from the ones I remembered having after the summer 2006 war in Lebanon. Instead of exchanging information about the places we were about to land—Beddawi and Nahr el Bared, the two Palestinian camps in northern Lebanon; Nahr el Bared had been just about bombed out of existence this summer by the Lebanese Army in its attempt to eradicate Fatah al Islam, and the people fleeing the bombing sought refuge in the adjacent Beddawi camp—we spent most of the time talking about the changes we were observing in the practice of journalism.

Don, the third journalist, was here with a travel grant to cover the temporary housing situation for the Nahr el Bared refugees. He and a partner had pitched the story to several print and electronic outlets before coming to follow up on some work that Don had done in Lebanon the past summer, when the conflict was ongoing.

Tariq, with whom I had done some audio work about cluster bomb victims last fall (Track 1, Track 2), after the Israel-Hezbollah war, had invited me to come. It was my first time in the field in quite a while, and I was entirely just along for the ride. So I hung back and watched and listened and snapped some photos. If an idea for a story or a new project emerged, all the better.

I don’t quite remember how, but before we ever mentioned the camps, we started talking about multimedia journalism. I wish I had recorded the conversation.

I talked about a recent online journalism workshop I’d co-taught at the American University of Beirut. Tariq had just completed an online course with the Knight Center at the University of Texas in Austin and was looking for a video camera to borrow to record the upcoming Ashoura festival in Nabatiyeh. And Don, a recent Columbia J-school grad (where he told me they are now integrating online into each of their tracks), was here to do video, audio, and print. He was thinking of at least three stories while we were out (a commentary, a video documentary, and radio piece), and maybe more. (more…)

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