Samstag, 20.07.2019 16:18 Uhr

Arab showcase media investigators apologize

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Frankfurt, 01.04.2019, 16:32 Uhr
Nachricht/Bericht: +++ Mixed News +++ Bericht 7267x gelesen

Frankfurt [ENA] The Arab investigative journalism network ARIJ has apologized for one of its stories that it deleted from its website because it failed to meet international professional standards, ARIJ said in a statement published in its March monthly newsletter. ARIJ is subsequently retracting the report “Yemen’s Dates in Dubai’s Palm” also published on 29 January on its Daraj partner’s platform.

Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) said it apologized to “subjects in the story, to readers, to our partner, and to Arab journalists and students who have come to trust ARIJ over the past 12 years.” Complaints from a Yemeni businessman mentioned in the story had led to a thorough internal review of the story and of the process that brought it to publication. Senior editors met with the journalists who worked on the story and reviewed all correspondence and documentation related to it. “Their conclusion was that it went out without proper corroboration and without listening to the businessman involved.” The breach had been taken most seriously and examined to insure it would not be repeated. ARIJ did not release more details.

A new written procedure on verifying and fact-checking stories by numerous people had been instituted and disciplinary measures taken against the journalists directly involved in this story. ARIJ said it was proud of its record working with journalists in this region to “produce investigative journalism that is professional, convincing, and ethical.” ARIJ stood for transparency and accountability, which included the organization itself. Ethical journalism required correction of the record and consequences when errors occurred. ARIJ had been contacting news websites that published the story asking them to also delete it.

The apology follows similar action by other international news media including The New York Times in the US and the German magazine Der Spiegel both of which retracted false accounts by reporters. ARIJ and Daraj have been supported by the International Media Support NGO from Denmark, the country blamed by Arabs for being anti-Islamic because of drawings of the Prophet Muhammad printed in a major Danish newspaper. However, while the Beirut-based Daraj has only come into being in November 2017, ARIJ has developed into a highly respected and much-decorated media organization that a major international evaluation called “a success story” providing “the benchmark for journalism in the region.”

ARIJ says it is the first and leading media organization in the region dedicated to promoting investigative journalism in Arab newsrooms, still a new practice. The Amman-based ARIJ was formed in early 2005 to support independent quality journalism, through funding in-depth journalism projects, and offering training and media coaching. ARIJ helps journalists in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Palestine, Yemen and Tunisia. Only days after the scandal broke ARIJ in partnership with the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom produced a policy paper on “Access to Information in the Arab World.” Rana Sabbagh, ARIJ’s executive director has been on a yearlong sabbatical since the end of last year.

In August last year the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom conferred its Raif Badawi award for courageous journalism upon ARIJ that Ms Sabbagh collected on October 10 at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The award, which does not involve monetary value, serves to keep the imprisoned Saudi blogger Badawi in the public consciousness. At the Book Fair ceremony Ms Sabbagh said the award went out to the dedicated staff at the ARIJ headquarters, especially to a new generation of ARIJ editors who were passing on skills to journalists “to produce well-documented investigations that hold power to account.”

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