INTRODUCTION: Jemstone is the biggest of Europe’s Med Media Projects, established to increase contacts and understanding between Europe and the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC’s*). Since the suspension of Med Media in late 1995 Jemstone has been Europe’s only media project operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, most recently under a special contract running from November 1997 to January 1999.
During this contract Jemstone has organised 18 separate events ranging from workshops on TV set-design to courses for senior managers running training departments. Jemstone works with experienced journalists, media professionals and managers to improve skills and create supportive networks.
Jemstone’s main activities come under several headings: general journalism skills; specialist journalism, including business and economics; masterclasses in specific craft-skills; Euro-Med Round Tables; media management, including audience and readership research; the development of in-house training capacities; network maintenance and development; etc.
1 The first event, run jointly with the French Mission Audio-Visuelle Regionale and Agence France Presse, was a ‘masterclass’ for photo-journalists (November 97 in Amman). We were able to include photographers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as well as the MPC’s* because of the funding from MAVR. We are continuing to explore ideas for collaboration with AFP and MAVR.
2 After Ramadan we held the first of two workshops on advanced internet for journalists (February in Amman and October in Beirut), where we brought together the best internet specialists from media organisations in the region. The idea came from a journalist at the main opposition paper in Cairo, Al Shaab, which had launched a web-site before Al-Ahram, after some basic internet training at the Jemstone summer course in Hilversum. He wanted the chance to meet fellow self-taught internet experts from media organisations to exchange ideas and experiences and create a network. It’s a wonderful idea and one we are keen to repeat. Both workshops were organised with the support of One World On Line and the Beirut event was supported by As-Safir newspaper, among those attending was a Yemeni journalist, financed by the Danish government.
3 The internet suggestion was made at the first of the local Jemstone meetings, where we brought together Jemstone ‘graduates’ in particular countries. We have so far run these in Cairo, Nicosia, Amman, Damascus and Beirut to maintain contacts, offer support and seek new ideas. We now have within our network well over 1,000 of the best journalists and media figures, many of them in contact with us and one another via the internet.
4 During 1997 we had been negotiating with the World Bank’s Economic Development Institute (EDI) to hold a joint workshop for economic, business and financial journalists (February in Amman and Aqaba). This is one of the core Jemstone activities run annually. We had heard that EDI was planning something similar and so suggested it should be a joint event, bigger and better than either of us could manage on our own. They provided expertise on international economics while we organised participation and the local activities, including a two-hour briefing session with the then Jordanian Prime Minister. We also invited ‘graduates’ of our earlier economic workshops to attend, to strengthen and develop the network further.
5 In response to requests from senior editors of Arabic language newspapers we embarked on possibly our most ambitous venture -- the creation of an Arabic-language style-book for the media. Such a publication is standard in most Western news organisations but we discovered that nothing similar exists in the Arab world. We began by consulting every Arabic media organisation we could contact; we brought together many of the leading Arabic-language journalists and experts (February in Damascus and August in Amman) and now the final draft is close to publication. Initial reaction has been very favourable, as long as we present it as a work in progress not the last word on the subject.
6 In response to requests from senior editors of Arabic language newspapers we embarked on possibly our most ambitous venture -- the creation of an Arabic-language style-book for the media. Such a publication is standard in most Western news organisations but we discovered that nothing similar exists in the Arab world. We began by consulting every Arabic media organisation we could contact; we brought together many of the leading Arabic-language journalists and experts (February in Damascus and August in Amman) and now the final draft is close to publication. Initial reaction has been very favourable, as long as we present it as a work in progress not the last word on the subject.
7 While the environment workshop took place in Egypt, Jemstone also organised a seminar on audience research (March in Cyprus) -- the first time we’d had the capacity to run two events simultaneously. We regard this as another of our core activities, helping to build links between the media and their audiences/readerships to counter-balance some of the other pressures they face. Our first workshop on this subject was in Cairo in 1996 and interest and sophistication has grown since, with the increasing importance of advertising.
8 We then ran two short training skills workshops (September in Cairo and October in Amman) so that these new training managers could send staff from their organisations who they want to use as part-time trainers. These practical events prepared the participants for running training courses and workshops within their own organisations. In total there are now about 50 Jemstone trained trainers and training managers within media organisations in the region and we are doing all we can to support this network, through exchange visits, the web-site, a training bulletin and most recently with the Jemstone Training Scholarships.
9 We can organise specific training events for individual organisations from our on-site training budget. Besides the second internet workshop run for As-Safir in Lebanon (see 2), we provided both consultancy and training for Nile TV in advance of the launch of Nile-sat, including a week-long workshop on TV set-design (June in Cairo), with a leading European designer whose work has included sets for the Spice Girls.
10 An increasingly important Jemstone theme has been the specialist reporters' workshop, where we take regional journalists interested in particular subject areas and put them with full-time specialists from Europe, with the aim of increasing the quality and quantity of specialist journalism within the MPCs* and creating self-sustaining networks. We have worked with economic journalists since 1995, euro-med specialists since 1996 and environmental reporters since 1998, when we also ran a workshop for media correspondents (June in Beirut), looking at the way issues of media technology, ownership, control and freedom are covered in Europe and the region. Among the participants was an internet journalist from the web-publisher Arabia On Line. We are very keen to encourage more reporting of media issues and have provided support to the Arab Media Institute in Amman, which publishes a monthly magazine on the media.
11 The main Jemstone event of the year was the summer journalism skills course in Holland (July-August in Hilversum) for 30 of the best younger journalists in the region. As in the past it was organised as two parallel courses to enable participants from all countries of the region to attend. It is an intensive, practical course which produces dramatic improvements in participants' performance, big changes in attitudes and understanding and the kind of shared adversity that creates enduring friendships. This year we provided everyone with e-mail addresses which has ensured that many members of the network have kept in regular contact.
12 After the successful partnership with the World Bank during the specialist economic workshop (see 4) we organised our annual network evaluation meeting to coincide with the Bank's Mediterranean Development Forum (MDF2) (September in Marrakech). Three dozen senior editors and correspondents advised Jemstone on priorities for the future and then took part in MDF2, underlining the vital role of the media in the development process.
13 To improve film-making skills at Jordan TV we provided some support for an independent, prize-winning cameraman, Mustafa Hammouri, to give on-the-job training to JTV directors and cameramen during the production of a video for the Jordanian Red Crescent.
14 In partnership with the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies and Search for Common Ground (SfCG) we held a ‘masterclass‘ for political cartoonists (October in Malta). The idea is exciting and the event was worthwhile but it also illustrates the perils of partnership -- SfCG was determined to have Israelis present which, at that time, was rather counter-productive; we would have preferred it with more of a Euro-Arab focus and hope to run such an event soon.
15 In contrast our final formal event was a partnership that worked well. Jointly with the Jordanian Institute of Diplomacy and the MacBride Round Table, we organised a Round Table Conference on "Culture and Communication in the Global Information Society" (November in Amman), with 120 participants, under the patronage of the then Crown Prince of Jordan.
* MPC's = the European Union's 'Mediterranean Partner countries': Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco.