Magda Abu-Fadil spoke to the OPEN Media Hub about the challenges of reporting on migration at the launch of the 2017 Migration Media Award, on which she served as a member of the jury.
Magda Abu-Fadil is an experienced foreign correspondent and editor, a writer and trainer for professional journalists across the Arab world, and publishes extensively on topics of journalism. She founded and headed the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut, and served as director of the Institute for Professional Journalists at the Lebanese American University. Abu-Fadil also taught journalism at her alma mater, American University in Washington, D.C.
“Journalists quite often have too much on their plate. They don’t have a regular beat, called migration or refugees problem and the same journalist could be covering a migration story in the morning, at noon time they have to go to some opening ceremony somewhere else and in the afternoon they have Lord knows what else and all of this has to be done on very tight deadlines and very tight budget. So they are multi-tasking, they are over-sretched, they are underpaid and all of that goes into the the mix and it creates quite a problem. What we need to focus on is the basics of journalism – accuracy, fairness and balance and humanity, but one of the problems we face is that we don’t always have accurate figures or accurate data, at lest in the Mediterranean. NGOs, UN organisations, aid agencies provide certain numbers, governments sometimes don’t provide the same numbers, blow them up, over exaggerate or underestimate and that’s where journalists have to work very hard to make sure that they have enough sources, and they double-check and there is a lot of fact-checking and not enough of that is being done and it has to be encouraged.”