Jerusalem24 – Qarib, which translates to “Close” in Arabic, is the name of a program working in Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon to bring media outlets closer to their audience and the media scenes closer to one another regionally.
We spoke to Henrik Ahrens, program director of Qarib, a regional program supporting media outlets in order to boost social cohesion, promote the integration of communities and encourage public debate.
“Qarib’s aim is to support media outlets in all means, the overall objectives of the program are leaving with a positive result, looking at the media needs in all aspects.”, Ahrens says.
When selecting the media outlets in the region, Qarib chooses media that can play a core function and provide accountability, and represent the voices of citizens in each country that it operates in.
Ahrens says that in Palestine, for example, a number of media is politicized, representing the interest of the stakeholders, funders, and donors, in many cases political parties and persons who have a political ambition rather than the interest of the audience.
The program director adds that the media outlets they look for and work with, in most cases, are independent with an eagerness to do professional coverage. “We have to identify them, and start with mapping and analysis of the content, then reach out to them and see what they would need” he follows.
Qarib works on supporting media to increase the outreach and have a measurable and improve the engagement with their audience, and exchange with their audience.
“There’s a global debate about fake news and disinformation, we work on trust, having the media engage and communicate with the audience and represents their interest which builds trust. And this is key to media impact and supporting pluralism of voices and exchange dialogue among citizens” Ahrens says.
The main objectives of Qarib in Palestine are to contribute to diversity pluralism within the media landscape. Ahrens says “If you look at the Palestinian media landscape it is politicized and divided among the two political factions. When we talk about diversifying, we look for independent that have the mission and mandate, and vision to do professional unbiased journalism.”.