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Journalism and Transitions in the Mediterranean

From May 19, 2014 until May 22, 2014

On May 19 in Madrid, this debate will be held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the journal afkar/ideas.

Throughout the last quarter of a century, the media have explained changes of a great scope and have given a voice to new role-players in history due to a desire to explain the essentials required to interpret reality, assuming the risk entailed by immediacy and a lack of historical perspective. Moreover, they have done so at a time of change in the model of journalism caused by the advent of the Internet and new forms of citizen journalism and multimedia. And this has occurred in contexts which are very complex and dangerous in terms of press freedom.  

The quarterly journal afkar/ideas (published in French and Spanish by IEMed and Estudios de Política Exterior) has followed change in the Mediterranean throughout the last decade. International journalists and analysts have analyzed the main geostrategic, political, socio-economic and cultural developments in the region in the more than 40 issues which have come off the press since 2003. 

As of 2011, the journal has applied a journalistic, analytical approach to providing in-depth explanations of the obstacles and successes in the transitions which arose with the Arab Spring. It is a new stage in the region’s history which has made clear once again all of the challenges faced by journalism as a profession and by the media. This debate, on the occasion of the journal’s tenth anniversary, is an attempt to discuss the key factors in the role played by journalists and the media in the current political era in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

The event, organized by IEMed, Estudios de Política Exterior and Casa Árabe, will take place at 7:00 p.m. at the Casa Árabe headquarters in Madrid (at Calle Alcalá, 62). It will include introductory speeches by Nuria Medina, the coordinator of Culture and New Media at Casa Árabe, Darío Valcárcel, the managing director and editorial director at Estudios de Política Exterior; Senén Florensa, the executive president of IEMed, and Gabriel Busquets, the Ambassador to the Special Mission for Mediterranean Affairs. After they speak, a debate will begin with the participation of journalists Ethar El-Katatney (Al Jazeera), Carla Fibla (Aish) and Luis de Vega (ABC).  

Ethar El-Katatney
A young journalist and blogger, Ms. El-Katatney currently works for the Al Jazeera network in Egypt. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer for Egypt Today, a frontline current affairs magazine in the Middle East, and in the magazine Business Today Egypt. She has also contributed to the website Muslimah Media Watch, in which she provides a critical analysis of the portrayal of Muslim women in the media and in popular culture. Amongst the various acknowledgments she has received despite her young age, Ethar El Katatney won the second prize awarded by the International Journalists’ Center in 2008, for a research piece on hepatitis C in Egypt. In 2009, she earned the “African Journalist of the Year” award from CNN in the category of economics and business, thanks to her journalistic work titled “The Business of Islam.” Her work “Identity Crisis 101” was also awarded with the Mediterranean Journalism Award given by the Anna Lindh Foundation. In 2011, she was awarded with the Samir Kassir Freedom Prize in Beirut.

Carla Fibla
A journalist and the director of the web portal for information and analysis on the Arab and Muslim world, Aish (, Ms. Fibla is a regular contributor to afkar/ideas. She lived in the Arab world for over 15 years, having begun her career in Cairo in June 1995, where she worked as a freelance reporter for various written media. In 2001, she created a regional correspondents’ office in North Africa, based in Rabat, Morocco, from which she provided coverage on Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania for Cadena SER and La Vanguardia. In 2008, she moved to Amman, Jordan, to open a new regional correspondents’ office covering 14 Arab countries for Cadena SER. She has worked with RNW, the public radio of the Netherlands, Radio France International and the portal Fronterad. She has written several books of essays and interviews, the latest of which is Resisting in Gaza: Palestinian Stories (Península, 2010). At present, she is working on a new book about Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian refugee women in Jordan, in which she compares the situations in 1948, 2003 and 2011.

Luis de Vega
Luis de Vega (1971) holds a degree in Journalism from the School of Communication at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA), an institution at which he taught the subject of Photo Journalism from 1999 to 2002. After completing a Master’s degree in Professional Journalism at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, he began to work as a writer and photographer for the newspaper ABC in 1994. In 2002, he took over as the correspondent for the newspaper ABC in North Africa, based in Rabat, from which he collaborated on work for afkar/ideas. He has covered the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the war in Iraq, and has followed the movements of clandestine emigrants from Africa. In 2006, Luis de Vega was awarded with the Journalism and Human Rights Prize of the Spanish General Bar Association and was a finalist for the Cirilo Rodríguez Award and the María Teresa Aubach Communication Award.

Journalism and Transitions in the Mediterranean