Journalism trainer: blogging "a must" for professional journalists

Journalism trainer: blogging "a must" for professional journalists

May Elian and Dana Liebelson | May 26, 2011

With news media changing faster than you can tweet, Tumblr or post about it, how journalists can train for the future becomes a difficult question to answer.

IJNet asked Magda Abu-Fadil, a foreign correspondent and director of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut, for tips on training for the future.

Abu-Fadil is a journalist intimately familiar with both traditional and new media. She has worked for numerous international news organizations, including Agence France-Presse and United Press International. She is the director of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut and conducts training workshops in three languages.

But Abu-Fadil has also embraced new media, blogging for The Huffington Post since 2007 and shooting her own photos and video. She encourages journalists to keep up with the changing media landscape and is skeptical about the value of traditional journalism school.

IJNet: What is most appealing about being both a blogger and a traditional reporter?

Magda Abu-Fadil: I enjoyed being a reporter, foreign correspondent and editor with various international organizations, but blogging is a lot more fun and my work isn't edited. It's a freer environment. Mind you, since I'm trained as a journalist I still pay close attention to accuracy, sourcing, fairness and balance in my stories. The rules are the same but the tools are different.

IJNet: How do you feel about professional journalists switching to new media? How can bloggers get paid?

MAF: I'm not paid by The Huffington Post and I don't mind. I have a paying job. This is like a hobby. I could start a blog or website and work on monetizing it, but it requires more time and effort than I can afford now. As for professional journalists turning to blogging: it's a must. There's infinitely more exposure. I also believe in open source journalism.

IJNet: You recently attended the Arab Media Forum—what was your biggest takeaway?

MAF: The Arab Media Forum is a great place to catch up with old friends, meet people, network and become acquainted with the latest media trends in the Arab region.

This year's forum focused on the changes sweeping the Arab world, particularly where revolts have been taking place, so it was quite relevant and offered an opportunity to see how the media are dealing with coverage of these events. It shed light on media's travails in uncertain and dangerous zones. Hopefully, we'll have learned lessons on how to become better journalists and communicators.

IJNet: Is new media a threat to professional journalism?

MAF: No, I don't think social media and citizen journalism are threats if journalists embrace them fully and become multimedia reporters and editors. We have to deal with the 21st century. What I learned in college is antiquated. The ethics are the same, albeit with changes in the means of delivery, but the context is different. So we have to adapt.

IJNet: Is it still worth going to journalism school?

MAF: I don't know if it's worth all the money spent going to journalism school today since the landscape is changing so fast and we're in a race against time with all the new technology, but it's definitely worth investing in a degree since most employers still require it.

It's also important to invest in regular training to stay abreast of developments. As for job opportunities, university graduates will have to remain flexible and learn to retool fast, depending on market needs. Priorities have changed, so one must go with the flow.


Blogging a perfect tool for Journalists

I totally agree with MAF, she hit the nail right in the head. I am a broadcast journalist working in Ghana and also corresponding for other international media online organization in South Africa. I am very grateful for her comments and it make me proud that i am part of a group of international journalists using blogging to express our selves freely.
Press Freedom in Ghana is one of the best in Africa, but we still have certain restrictions in house, where editors are affiliated to political parties so stories concerning their parties are restricted and scrutinized.

Thanks for the good work MAF

Nana Appiah Acquaye

Blogging for journos a must

I couldn't agree with MAF more. Blogging is something i do and it find it really helpful, relaxing and it gives me an opportunity to express or expound on 2 or 3 minutes news stories that i would have worked on during the day.

As for whether its still worth going to journalism school? I dont think so. My news room is packed with people who never spent an hour in journalism school or have any other type of formal training in that area, yet they do a good job.


Sincerely speaking Maf has made my day .On the question if its important now to invest in Journalism school although i cannot critise any ones move i feel i have made it in sports journalism without ever stepping into any journalism class.I put alot of emphasis on interest ,knowledge and good understanding and to the suprise of all and sundry in Kenya i have been corresponding for the largest online African football website who belived on my ability and i have never let them down at all and yet some conservative journalist who keep on talking about their degree or writing with very low pay where ones work is counted.

What i do is basically stay abreast with forums such as this to learn more skills and i have been able to use the latest journalism tools in my trade and i find it a success.My Names are Collins Okinyo from Kenya reporting for


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