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Sanssouci Colloquium
Media Prize
Youth Media Workshop
Offshoot Workshop
Background Notes
Working Sessions

The M100 Sanssouci Colloquium 2007 was designed as a bridge-building initiative for European and Middle East media to gain greater understanding of each other’s work and to explore avenues for future cooperation. The meeting attracted senior journalists and media executives from Europe and the Middle East.

The conference agenda was aimed at illustrating and analysing how European and Middle East media portray each other’s societies and current affairs. Differences not only between but within each region’s media were assessed and the exchanges touched on how both address issues such as self-censorship and the question of media ownership and independence. The extent to which the media can wield power in terms of influencing the Middle East’s ruling elites was assessed. The impact of media globalisation and the proliferation of transnational TV networks (both English and Arab language channels) was explored with regard to its effect on international and inter-communal perceptions and relations. The meeting’s organisers had intended that the participants focus on reporting of Muslim communities in Europe and abroad to explore whether the media were aggravating tensions. Participants compared the tendencies of populist or ‘tabloid’ media across geographies and emphasised the role of professional standards of journalism not only in countries short of well-trained professionals.

The European contingent at the Colloquium included senior BBC, Economist, FT and France 24 staff as well as chief executives from Europe’s leading print media and Germany’s TV networks. Participants from the Middle East included senior staff from Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, as well as editors from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Bahrain and other Gulf countries. There were several London-based Arab journalists. Though two Israelis participated, there was little discussion of the Israeli media or of the character of news coverage of Israeli affairs. Allegations by a British participant of anti-Israeli bias in BBC reporting failed to ignite debate over reporting on Arab-Israel relations.

Overall, discussions demonstrated a mutual interest to explore mechanisms for effective collaboration in a number of areas, in particular, joint-production and the development of common reporting standards. Arab participants suggested follow-up meetings in Dubai or Qatar to elaborate such proposals. In this way, the conference marked the launch of a longer-term collaboration.

The Colloquium was divided into three closed Working Sessions and was followed by an open Plenary Session to debate and draw conclusions from the day’s work.