"Certificates really matter", Tarek Atia, media training manager of the Media Development Programme in Egypt told participants of the 17th World Editors Forum in Hamburg, referring to IT training programmes operated in organisations including Egypt's largest paper Al Ahram. "When people get them they feel as if they have won the election" he said.
He emphasized that the USAid funded MDP has substantially changed Egypt's media. More than 4000 journalists have taken part in it since it started four years ago, 1986 in 2010 alone. Atia shared with the audience the lessons learned on institutional, individual and inspirational level.
The Media Development Programme focuses mostly on new media. Atia added that the majority of participants are between 20 and 30 years old. "It's more difficult to teach older people" said Atia. The programme operates six training centres in Egypt, and journalists are taught by foreign trainers and by graduates of the programme.
Atia is convinced that media training should teach journalists how to handle social networks like Twitter and Facebok. "But we shouldn't forget about the basics - photography, writing the articles", Atia reminded the audience. He believes that the Media Development Programme has helped journalists to discover a new writing style, human interest stories for example. These stories are a huge success in newspaper reporting. "Human interest attracts especially young readers", said Atia.
"The visual culture has found its way into the text-based culture of Egypt" explained Atia and recalled how the visual story-telling began to appear in Egyptian media. Speaking about using multimedia, Tarek Atia mentioned that it is important to use info graphics: "Readers and advertisers like it."
He mentioned a focus on local media, blogging and the making of better design as other important areas. He also emphasised the need for patience, recalling that it can sometimes take months or even years of training to make a breakthrough. "In late 2008 to early 2009 several large organisations suddenly to produce local papers in Alexandria," after training courses had been held for some time on the importance of local news, he explained