Historical Changes and Political Transitions Media & Journalism, Key Actors


Since the late 18th century, the major changes experienced by humanity have been witnessed and immediately reported through printed word. From the gazettes of the first “journalists” during the French Revolution, we have evolved to the 21st century “citizen journalists” of the Arab Spring, armed with a multimedia language of much greater impact.

The two events share a common denominator in all the major turning points of our recent history. The testimony of the media is endowed with an enormous capacity to spread the news in audio-visual and written form throughout a wide range of outlets within the reach of broad layers of the population. Media not only inform citizens about the events and their consequences, but also do much more: they contribute to building a critical citizenship and monitor governments, authorities and the powerful, hence becoming the so-called fourth power.

With rapid and sudden changes, media had to give a voice to new actors in their countries to narrate unforeseen events. In short, to create a new narrative which offers its readers the keys to navigate the new historic period in which they are living and see themselves with new vision.

Over the last 100 years, we have experienced two world wars, decolonisation, the overthrow of dictatorships and the emergence of democracies, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 11-S and the Iraq War. All such events and many others have been reported from the frontline by journalism and communications professionals who have helped explain what was happening and, therefore, influence the outcome. The accumulated experiences and knowledge of these accomplished journalists provide a solid basis for dialogue on the role of journalists and the media in the new era which the Arab world has entered after the so-called Arab Spring.



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17th September 2015 


 9.00 – 9.30 am  Registration
 9.30 – 10.30 am

 Opening ceremony

 Welcome remarks:

 Senén Florensa, executive president, European Institute of the Mediterranean, IEMed

Salah Eddin Elzein Mohammed director, Al Jazeera Center for Studies

 Keynote address:

Fathallah Sijilmassi*, secretary general, Union for the Mediterranean

 10.30 – 11.00 am  Coffee break
 11.00 am – 1.00 pm

 Media and transitions

What lessons can we extract from the experience of the media in the democratic processes in South America, Eastern  countries and Spain? What would have changed without journalists ready to cover events? How far were they able to influence the outcome of those transitions? What difficulties did they face and how did they overcome them? Is it possible to transfer some good practices to the Arab world?

Chair: Moez Sinaoui, spokesperson for the Presidency of the Republic of Tunisia and former director of communication at Nessma TV

Xavier Vidal-Folch,  former deputy editor-in-chief, El País (Spain)
Ilhem Allagui, associate professor, Northwestern University in Qatar
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera senior political analyst, Al Jazeera Media Network
Bichara Khader, senior research associate, IEMed and president of the EuroMeSCo General Assembly
Maciej Stasinski, journalist at Gazeta Wyborcza and correspondent of La Vanguardia in Poland

Discussants: Josep Maria Martí i Font, journalist and writer, president of the Association of European Journalists in Catalonia; Rosa Massagué, columnist at El Periódico de Catalunya

 1.00 - 3.00 pm  Lunch
 3.00 – 4.30 pm  

New media for a new era

The achievement of greater freedom of expression has hastened the emergence of new media. How can the new private media develop and win audiences if public media has traditionally been pre-eminent? What changes must the public media face to recover its credibility and reputation? How does the fragmentation of audiences and advertising investment affect the emergence of new media? What new economically sustainable model is needed in the Arab world for the emergence of new professional media?

Chair: Thembisa Fakude, head of research relations, Al Jazeera Center for Studies
François Bonnet, co-founder and editorial director of Mediapart
Fatima El Issawi, senior lecturer in Journalism, Essex University, and research fellow at the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics
Ridha Kéfi, editor-in-chief of Kapitalis
Cristina Manzano,director of esglobal
Iñigo Sáenz de Ugarte, deputy director of Diario.es and author of the blog “Guerra eterna”
Discussants: Ihsane El Kadi, director of Maghreb Emergent; Federico Palomera, secretary general, Spanish Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO

 4.30 – 5.00 pm  Coffee break
 5.00 - 6.30 pm

 Government, from control to the guarantee of free information

What legal changes favour the expansion of the media and journalism panorama? What measures must the authorities take to guarantee rights linked to freedom of expression and freedom of information? What progress has been made in terms of transparency and accountability? Reform, constitution and new legislative frameworks.
Chair: Lurdes Vidal, editor-in-chief of afkar/ideas and chief officer for Arab and Mediterranean Affairs, IEMed
Shaimaa Abulkhair, Avocats sans Frontières and former Middle East consultant for the Committee to Protect Journalists
Larbi Chouikha, professor in communication, Institute for Press and Information Sciences, Université de La Manouba
Beata Klimkiewicz, assistant professor at the Institute of Journalism and Social Communication, Jagiellonian University
Maâti Monjib, political analyst, human rights activist and professor at the Mohamed V University
Naomi Sakr, professor of Media Policy, University of Westminster and former journalist, editor and country analyst with The Economist
Discussants: Albert Sáez, deputy director of El Periódico de Catalunya; Ali Lmrabet,journalist, founder of Demain Magazine and demainonline.com

 18th September 2015 


 9.30 – 11.00 am 

 Journalism that can meet the new challenges

Citizen demands for information in the light of the changes are becoming more pressing. How to meet the challenges of reporting from a country undergoing change? How to cover new and far more plural parliamentary and political activity? How to develop new forms of investigative journalism? How to incorporate revealing and rigorous news through data journalism and fact-checking?
Chair: Daoud Kuttab, director general at Community Media Network and chairman of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism
Abigail Fielding-Smith, reporter, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, head of editorial development at Coda Story and former Financial Times Beirut correspondent
Alain Gresh, journalist specialized on Middle East, at Le Monde diplomatique and Orient XXI
Zahera Harb, senior lecturer in International Journalism at City University London
Eduardo Martín de Pozuelo, investigative journalist with La Vanguardia
Discussants: Carme Colomina, columnist on International Affairs at ARA; Ricard González, former correspondent of El Pais and ARA in Egypt

 11.00 – 11.30 am  Coffee break
 11.30 am – 1.00 pm

 Relevance in the midst of the noise of global communications

How to select truthful and relevant news faced with the daily avalanche from endless sources? What is the scope of the non-professional media that emerged through the new communication technologies promoted by citizen journalists? What is the reach and influence of bloggers? What is the future role of the media and international news agencies?
Chair: Noha Mellor, Professor of Media at University of Bedfordshire
Lina Attalah*, editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Mada Masr 
Donatella Della Ratta, postdoctoral fellow at University of Copenhagen
Leila Nachawati, communications officer for APC.org, professor of Communications at Carlos III University and co-founder of Syria Untold
Sana Sbouai, former writer of Nawaat.org and editor-in-chief of Inkyfada         
Mohamed Zayani, associate professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar
Discussants: Medir Plandolit, head content, VICE Spain; Carla Fibla, Euronews and former correspondent in the Middle East and North Africa for La Vanguardia and Cadena SER.

 1.00 - 1.30 pm                          

 Closing remarks

Salah Eddin Elzein Mohammed director, Al Jazeera Center for Studies
Senén Florensa, executive president, European Institute of the Mediterranean, IEMed


Download Conference Speakers

Senén Florensa

Ambassador Florensa has been president of the executive committee of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) since 2005. He was Secretary General for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Catalonia from 2011 to 2012 and the Spanish Ambassador to Tunisia from 2000-2004. He has also been Director of Studies at the Diplomatic School of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Professor of International Economics and Development at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


 Salah Eddin Elzein Mohammed

Director of Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. Prior to this, he was involved in academic research and teaching at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He served as a research coordinator with the Johannesburg-based Volunteer and Service Enquiry Southern Africa. His research and teaching were focused on citizenship and development challenges in Africa and Latin America.


 Fathallah Sijilmassi

Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean since 2012. He was reelected as the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean on 4 December 2014. He is a career diplomat for the Moroccan government since 1989, he specialises in economic international relations in particular with regards to Euro-Mediterranean issues. After working in the banking sector, he participated actively in the negotiations of free trade agreements with the European Union, the United States, and several Arab and African countries.


 Moez Sinaoui

Spokesperson for the Presidency of the Republic of Tunisia. He began his career as a lawyer and diplomat. He worked with as the Tunisian representative for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Italy. He was the head of communication in the first Tunisian government after the fall of Ben Ali and director of communication at Nessma TV (in Tunisia) between 2008 and 2011. He was also the communication and public affairs director at the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean.


 Ilhem Allagui

Associate professor at Northwestern University in Qatar. She holds a PhD in Communication Studies from the University of Montreal, Canada. Her research focuses on the social integration of new media in the Arab region as well as the evolution and development of the media and communications industry in the Middle East and North Africa region. In 2007 she launched the Emirates Internet Project (EIP).)


 Marwan Bishara

Al Jazeera's senior political analyst. He is a former a professor of International Relations at the American University of Paris and a fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He is an author of Palestine/Israel: Peace or Apartheid which was published in 2001 and The Invisible Arab in 2012. Prof Bishara has written extensively on global politics.


 Bichara Khader

Senior research associate at IEMed and president of the the Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission's general assembly. He is Emeritus professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) where he founded the Centre of Studies and Research on the Contemporary Arab World. He has been a member of the group of high experts on the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU and the group for Euro-Mediterranean cultural dialogue.


 Maciej Stasinski

Journalist and editor at the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza since 1995, covering Spain and Latin America. He is a correspondent of La Vanguardia in Poland. In 2015, he published the book Diabel umiera w Havanie ("The evil Dies in Havana"). He regularly writes about political affairs in Cuba, Mexico, Spain and Catalonia.


 Xavier Vidal-Folch

Journalist and former deputy editor of the Spanish newspaper El País, and correspondent in Brussels from 1994 to 2000. In 1999, he received the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award and the Francisco Cerecedo Award from the Spanish section of the Association of European Journalists in 2013. He has been the President of the World Editors Forum since December 2008.


 Josep Maria Martí i Font

Journalist and writer. Between 1973 and 1979, he participated in various projects of alternative press that were created in the last years of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship and the beginning of the Spanish transition to democracy like Star, Disco Express, Fotogramas and Vibraciones. He was a correspondent for El Pais in Germany and France. Since 2010, he has been a professor in the master's program on International Journalism at the Pompeu Fabra University.


 Rosa Massagué

Columnist at El Periódico de Catalunya since its foundation in 1978. She has been a correspondent in London and Rome, a special envoy, the head of external relations and editor-in-chief. She has also worked as a commentator on radio and television programs. She is a member of Reporters Without Borders and she lectures at the joint master program on International journalism at the University of Barcelona and Columbia University in New York.


 Thembisa Fakude

Head of Research and International Relations at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. Prior to joining Al Jazeera, he was bureau chief of Al Jazeera Media Network in Southern Africa and chairperson of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa. He has is also a founding member of the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC). He holds a master's degree in politics from the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa).


 Francois Bonnet

He worked at the French weekly, VSD, the daily Libération, and then Le Monde (1995-2006) where he was the editor of the international desk. He was also deputy director of Marianne in 2007.  He is co-founded Mediapart in 2008 and is currently its editorial director. He regularly writes articles about the current affairs on his own webpage.


 Fatima El Issawi

Freelance journalist reporting in the Middle East for the BBC, AFP and Asharq Al-Awsat. She is a research fellow at Polis, the journalism and society think-tank in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics since 2011. She is also a senior lecturer of Journalism at the Essex University. She is currently leading a project entitled “Arab National Media and Politics: Democracy Revisited”.


 Ridha Kéfi

Writer and journalist. He founded the online publication Kapitalis.com, a French website widely read in Tunisia. Former correspondent for Jeune Afrique in Tunisia.  In 2011 he became a member of the National Authority for the Reform of Information and Communication (INRIC), which is in charge of making proposals for reforming the media during the transition period. He is an editorial advisor at Afkar/Ideas.


 Cristina Manzano

Director of Esglobal.org. She has a blog in the Spanish edition of The Huffington Post and collaborates with various media like El Periódico de Catalunya and OpenDemocracy. She was Deputy Director of the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (the "Foundation for International Relations and Foreign Dialogue") and General Director of Reporter for ten years. She is currently a member of the administrative board of the European Council on Foreign Relations and of the scientific board of Real Instituto Elcano.


 Iñigo Sáenz de Ugarte

He is a journalist and the founding member of the of Público, where he was an editor-in-chief and later a correspondent in London. He is currently the deputy director of he also worked for the Informativos Telecinco from 1998 to 2006 as the morning news editor covering news on Israel, Palestine and Afghanistan. He was also the director of the Informativos Telecinco website. He started a blog entitled Guerra Eterna in 2003. Today, he is Deputy Director of Eldiario.es.


 Ihsane El Kadi

Journalist since 1984 in 1994 he co-founded The Tribune and was its editor until 1996. He was a freelance journalist for ten years and was a correspondent for several newspapers, magazines and websites including La Croix and Le Point in France as well as the daily Oran Algéria Interface. He also co-founded the financial weekly Les Afriques in 2007.  He is the director of Maghreb Emergent and an editorial advisor for Afkar/Ideas.


 Federico Palomera

He is a diplomat who began his career in 1979 as the First Secretary of the Spanish Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Since then, he has been posted to several Spanish missions Thailand, Egypt, Costa Rica, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Singapore. He is currently General Secretary of the Spanish National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO.


 Lurdes Vidal

Lurdes Vidal is Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly journal, Afkar/Ideas, and the head of the Arab and Mediterranean division at IEMed. She regularly analyses current affairs in the Arab world in different media platforms. She is a professor of Arab politics at the University of Barcelona, Ramon Llull University and the Autonomous University of Barcelona.


 Shaimaa Abulkhair

She is the Middle East consultant for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based, independent and nonprofit organisation.  Committee to Protect Journalists strives to safeguard press freedom worldwide. She spoke extensively about the arrests of journalists in Egypt. She is currently working with Avocats sans Frontières ("Lawyers Without Frontiers")on media freedom in Egypt.


 Larbi Chouikha

Professor at the Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information at the University of La Manouba, the main media university in Tunisia. He participated in the work of the Independent High Authority for Elections, a government agency in charge of organising and supervising elections and referendums in Tunisia after the fall of Ben Ali. He also took part in the work of the National Authority for the Reform of Information and Communication (INRIC).


 Beata Klimkiewicz

Assistant professor at the Institute of Journalism and Social Communication at the Jagiellonian University. She is an expert for the European Commission in developing indicators for measuring media pluralism and the independence of media regulatory authorities. She contributed to the UNESCO report, "World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development." She also provided policy expertise for the Polish National Broadcasting Council and Ministry of Culture.


 Maâti Monjib

Professor of history at the University of Mohammed V-Rabat (Morocco). He has taught in different universities in Morocco, Senegal and the United States. He has also organised the Press Now Investigative Journalism Prize in 2007-9 in Morocco and is founder and director of the Ibn Rochd Center for Studies and Communication (also in Morocco). Furthermore, he is a founding member of the 20 February Movement Support Council.


 Naomi Sakr

Professor, author, public speaker, former journalist, editor and country analyst for The Economist. She is professor of media policy and director for the Communication and Media Research Institute's Arab Media Centre. In addition to her consulting work for different international organisations, she has authored several books including: Satellite Realms: Transnational Television, Globalization and the Middle East (2003) and Arab Television Today (2007) as well as two collections about women and media in the Arab world.