The Swedish Institute Alexandria (SwedAlex) in cooperation with the Arab Forum for Alternatives (AFA) organized a conference from 26-27 November 2018 on "Media in Shifting Context: A Look on the Local Journalism" in Beirut, Lebanon. This meeting gathered 27 professionals and experts from 7 countries of the MENA Region (Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen) and Sweden.
Participants from Egypt, Syria, France and Sweden shared their experiences and challenges facing the local press especially the social media that is competing strongly with local newspapers and the centralization of institutions in MENA where the focus is only on the capital. The program was concluded with a panel discussion on the future and the opportunities of journalism in the Arab region.
"It was very interesting to learn more about local journalism in the Middle East. The preconditions and traditions differ a lot from the Nordic countries, but there are also similar chllenges as funding, questions on print versus digital reach, ethics and professionalism. Local journalism as a possible entry point for accountable journalism in areas of political tension, affecting national media, which was an interesting view" said Carina Tenor, journalist at Nerikes Allehanda and project researcher at Södertörn University. Meanwhile, Dr. Amro Elshobaki, researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt, expressed the importance of such conference saying : "Discussing the local journalism from a comparative perspective, is a way to highlight the local reality and the daily concerns of citizens specially with the presence of some restrictions on the large political issues in many Arab experiences, hence the importance of this workshop, which opened the way to know the stories of five Arab journalists in the local press, as well as two European (Sweden and France)".
It is expected that the papers presented during the conference will be compiled and printed in a book.