A four-day masterclass on sports journalism, under the patronage of Gulf Times in co-operation with Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), kicked off on Monday at the NU-Q campus in Education City, welcoming dozens of participants from Qatar’s diverse community.
The opening was attended by Gulf Times editor-in-chief Faisal Abdulhameed al-Mudahka, NU-Q dean and CEO Everette E Dennis, and resource speakers and NU-Q instructors for the course.
Speaking at the event, al-Mudahka told participants that the joint initiative, dubbed as ‘Friends of Qatar’, will serve as a platform for people who have a passion for sports reporting to enhance and further develop their skills.
“The newspaper has a new website and a platform which we call Gulf Times Community, but communities without real people will not work,” he stressed, adding that the idea starts with this pilot course, in partnership with NU-Q, aimed at educating and training people in a professional way.
He expressed optimism that ‘Friends of Qatar’ initiative will expand further, with plans to hold a series of courses in the future for both Qataris and residents.
Resource speakers and instructors for the masterclass include Craig LaMay, a professor and a faculty associate at Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research, former editorial director of the Freedom Forum Media Studies Centre and editor of Media Studies Journal, and a former newspaper reporter; Dr Eddy Borges-Rey, associate professor-in-residence at NU-Q whose area of academic expertise is digital journalism and emerging media; and Dr Marcela Pizzaro, assistant professor in residence at NU-Q, and an award-winning journalist who worked as a producer and reporter at Al Jazeera English, both on the ground in Latin America, Washington DC, and Doha.
Prof Craig LaMay delivers the first topic, titled ‘Sports Journalism and UGC (User-Generated Content): Ethics and Liability Issues, on Monday at the event.
The first topic, titled ‘Sports Journalism and UGC (User-Generated Content): Ethics and Liability Issues, was delivered by Prof LaMay.
Speaking at the event, Dennis said: “We are very interested in the investment in the improvement of media all over the world, with our students in the country and elsewhere, and that is what we do.”
Such endeavour, he said, is about civic engagement and understanding more about journalism, noting that the world today is driven so much by news and information.
“The more you can understand about the process by which this happens, the better off you are. We live in a world where there is fake news, unreliable sources, we need to be more attuned to what the reliable sources are and how the information is gathered and verified so that we can trust upon the best medium, and at the same time to read widely and to inform ourselves,” Dennis said.
“Faisal and his colleagues have to produce a lot of materials very fast every day and get it moving. We are very impressed with the work of the Gulf Times,” Dennis pointed out.
Speaking to Gulf Times, Dr Jairo Lugo-Ocando, professor in residence and director of Executive and Graduate Education at NU-Q, described the initiative as a historical and one-of-its-kind event taking place for the first time in the Middle East.
He said the masterclass links civic engagement with sports news, bringing together journalists and common people under one roof aimed at contributing to Qatar’s National Vision 2030.
“We have put together with Gulf Times in a great partnership the first course of user generated content, in other words how the readers, the audiences of the Gulf Times can produce content of quality that can contribute to the reach of the newspaper towards the wider community,” Dr Ocando said. “The idea is to train and educate the general public on how they can contribute to Qatar.”
“This was the idea of Faisal and we discussed his vision what we can do to develop this. Gulf Times had a very clear of what they wanted to achieve and we put our ideas together, and one was to educate and train people,” he added.
The NU-Q professor also highlighted the need for “an army of volunteers” who can help Qatar ensure accuracy in the way the news is covered, “that there are people witnessing and transmitting what they see as they see it.”
“They can see the excellent work Qatar is doing in terms of organising one of the most important sports (events) in the world, but in the long term, also engaging people with their news, engaging Qatar with the fulfilment of a modern, self-sustainable society, that is based on knowledge,” he said.
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