November 20 2020, MENA Meetup

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MENA Meetups

Independent Media in Lebanon After the Blast

  • Who: Azza El Masri, Meedan
  • Date: Friday, November 20th
  • Time: 6:00pm Central Africa Time (UTC+2) / 5:00pm CET (UTC+1)
  • Language: English & Arabic

On August 4, 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut's port ripped through half of the capital, taking 200 lives, injuring thousands and rendering 300,000 homeless. The impact of the blast was also felt by independent media workers, who'd had -- over the years -- taken up headquarters in the neighborhoods that had been hit the most. Megaphone is one such example.

This MENA Community Knowledge session (MENA CKS) will focus on:

  • The impact of the martial law on the security and freedom of independent journos after the blast
  • How the blast affected the business model of independent media outlets and the role of emergency funding for media
  • What kind of regional cooperation is needed in terms of archiving and journalistic collaboration and training
  • The impact of trauma on independent journalists

Azza El Masri is Meedan's NAWA Program Coordinator and a Lebanese investigative journalist. She also conducts research on political misinformation online.

The MENA CKS sessions are brought to you with love and care by Rima & Wafaa.




Q1: Do any mental health resources exist for journalists who deal with trauma? Maybe through the global journalist organizations?

​​​​​​* Pare media recovery fund has a part for mental health support, Megaphone offered free mental health support session.

Q2: how would you describe the different tools and methods used in Lebanon?

  • Lebanon has the ability to use phishing attacks to trap individuals into bogus treason accusation, location tracking if you don't have strong digital security skills, ICT has the permission to surveil phones. Since 2016 we have seen a rise of detention of activists because of freedom of speech and their activity online. The case for independent media, it's "propagana media" founder was summon a few days ago for what he posted on his personal instagram about Lebanese passport. 

Q3. Why wasn't a Lebanese media involved in the forensic architecture investigation?

  • We have little access to information. The problem when you have to deal with a business that relies on external funding, it doesn't allow you to have the resources to learn new things or bring new people. With the case of, as Megaphone we couldn't do it because we didn't have the resources to work on it for 3 months. It has to do with money and time constraints.

Q.4 How inflamatory figures tend to grab the attention of some many people (like "Geno?)? How do independent media deal with this big problem of misinformation?

  • When influencers takes our content and shares it and gets all the engagement, it hurts us. (and doesn't credit independent media outlets too)
  • When you apply for funding, you need to show evidence that you have engagement for your contact/impact

Q5: do any of these independent media organizations have print editions? or have experimented with print? i'd like to know what's missing when indie media is mostly online for example, which is also the case in Hong Kong's indie media organizations

  • They are literally and political and their content includes comics