International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration agency in Kuwait, in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kuwait organized two workshops for media professionals on the topic of ‘Responsible Reporting on Migrants’.

The workshops aimed to provide media professionals with a better understanding of the local migration context, as well as enhance their skills and accuracy of information when reporting, and on employing a compassionate and humane approach when covering stories on migration in the media.

The two workshops were organized within a duration of a week, with a three-day workshop targeting media professionals, and an additional two-day workshop for social media influencers and university students. The training event was implemented under IOM’s cooperation project agreement signed with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kuwait in November 2020, and in coordination with the Ministry of Information, Kuwait.

“Beyond these institutional responsibilities, the reality is that thousands of people post negative and hateful content on their social media accounts every day, and at some point, explicitly call for violent action against migrants and other vulnerable groups,” said Mazen AboulHosn, IOM Kuwait Chief of Mission during his opening remarks. “Comments on social networks are more than just words, and they should not be seen as harmless, especially when social networks are a source of information for migrants and the general public , and contribute to their experiences.”

For his part, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kuwait H.E. Laurens Westhoff said, “In the past 10 years, social media has had increasing influence. Many people on social media do not adhere to the principles of responsible reporting and the algorithms make the receiver hear the same opinion over and over again. We need to be inclusive and allow as many voices as possible to express their opinion then leave it to the receiver to make their own decision. I am very happy to be sponsoring this event on behalf of the Netherlands. I also thank IOM and the Ministry of Information in Kuwait for making this workshop possible”.

IOM invited speakers from various concerned entities to present their views, including representatives of the Ministry of Information, the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), Kuwait University, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Joint Program Production Institution (GCCJPPI), as well as several renowned news and reporting agencies such as the BBC, Thomson Reuters Corporation and Agency France-Presse (AFP).

Through these workshops, IOM Kuwait aims to empower media professionals to promote ethical and informed journalism by embracing sensitive reporting that is fair and balanced. This is of particular importance when working with migrant workers, including vulnerable persons and communities, who are often portrayed in a negative manner in the media, and yet are amongst the most affected by the current health and consequential financial crises.

The training sessions are a way to inform reporters on the comprehensive migratory situation and the importance of understanding the context in full, with emphasis on human trafficking and its underlying issues. They further aim to guide media professionals on accurate terminology related to the migration management and enhance their skills and provide tips and techniques required for conducting interviews with vulnerable individuals and covering stories on sensitive issues.

Ethical and well-informed journalism is a key element in combating misinformation and hate speech and promoting social cohesion within each society.

Speaking about the workshops, Managing Editor of The Times Kuwait, Reaven D’souza said, “Very glad to attend the Responsible Reporting on Migrants workshop conducted by IOM and the Ministry of Information. The workshop was very illuminating and gave me a better understanding and insight into the issue. This will greatly help us as we are constantly faced with many dimensions of the issue.“

News Producer at Sky News Arabia, Kuwait Office, Iqbal Ahmed, added, “I really enjoyed attending the training course over a period of three days, they were fruitful and useful at all levels, especially with the amount of information provided to us by the distinguished lecturers from various entities. It was very important and an added value to our work as media professionals and editors from various agencies. The session topics chosen are very important for all media professionals, because they will actually contribute to strengthening the writing of reports in a more responsible way that takes into account all the social and psychological effects and the extent of its impact.”

Senior Media Specialist – Programs, at the Ministry of Information, Salem Abdul-Halim Al-Kaabi noted, “The session aimed at promoting the values of free and responsible media work and focusing on the central role of the media in producing responsible reports that are fair and balanced and that supports the Sustainable Development Goals, that are in line with the global agenda”.

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