Things you learn in journalism 101 in Libya

From the Dispatches section of the January/February 2012 Atlantic:

Media: Freed Press, by Graeme Wood

In October, at the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development, I traveled to Benghazi to train Libyan journalists. As part of its effort to build up post-revolutionary civil society, USAID had offered to help nurture a network of journalists known as Independent Libyan Media (or ILM, Arabic for “knowledge”).

All of my students were under 30 and had entered the profession from other pursuits. Ex-nurses, ex-medical students, ex-architects, and ex-engineers showed up, and a few people seemed young enough to have prcticed no occupation other than Facebook Revolutionary, straight out of high school. They knew nothing of standards, libel, or ethics—except that such concepts existed, and that eventually they needed to learn about them …

Sallak [a young Libyan woman who worked with ILM to gather these hopeful journalists] booked the upstairs floor of Pisa, a pizzeria near Al-Arab Medical University, and instructed the wait staff to maintain a flow of macchiatos while we remade Libyan journalism. All day, the restaurant’s ground-floor TVs reverberated with Italian soccer at full volume, while upstairs I shouted out terms like source, attribution, and plaintiff-friendly libel law, [my emphasis] and the Libyans scribbled them down…


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