Roundtable Session – Sunday morning

Roundtable session: Politics, Media and Misinformation – the Arab World and South in Focus


Politics, Media & Misinformation –
The Arab World and the South in Focus

Great differences exist when media organizations both within and beyond the Arab World cover conflict.

Even the scale of events has great variance and the number of casualties, the perpetrators and the victims can at times have their roles reversed.

Did major policy issues surrounding the greater War on Terror, and specifically the War in Iraq undergo the appropriate level of scrutiny?

Did the calls for Patriotism regarding the War on Terror by the US administration, directly affect the impartiality of the mainstream US press?

Did the psychological effects of 9/11, re-prioritize the substantive nature of the Press?

Does the closing of news bureaus in the Arab world by Arab governments hinder the transparency of coverage needed for proper information to be circulated on the path to democracy and reform in the region? 

Has journalism lost touch with its capacity to challenge authority and truly keep the public informed and watch their backs from abuses of power?

Moderator  – Mhamed Krichen – Presenter, Al Jazeera Channel


1. Faisal Al Kasim – producer and host of The Opposite Direction.
2. Azmi Bishara – a political analyst based in Palestine.
3. Michael Oreskes – executive editor of the International Herald Tribune.
4. Haroon Siddiqui  – editor emeritus, The Toronto Star.
5. Abdul Bari Atwan – editor-in-chief at Al Quds Al Arabi.
6. Allister Sparks – founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism.
7. Steve Clark – Director of News and Programmes, Al Jazeera English


Mhamed Krichen – Presenter, Al Jazeera
Mhamed Krichen has been one of Al Jazeera’s main news presenters since he joined the channel in 1996. He has participated in Al Jazeera’s major foreign coverage, interviewed many prominent personalities, and presented many programmes. Before joining Al Jazeera he was a news presenter for BBC Arabic television and a correspondent for MBC Television, Radio Monte Carlo (Arabic), Radio Holland (Arabic), and a number of Arabic newspapers. He has published two books, one in 1986, PLO History and Fractions, and the second about Al Jazeera in 2006.

Faisal Al Kasim – Host of The Opposite Direction
Faisal Al Kasem is the producer and host of Al Jazeera’s groundbreaking debate programme The Opposite Direction. The programme is regarded as the most controversial in the history of Arab media, drawing criticism from Arab governments and leading to several diplomatic crises. Al Kasem, who has been described by Western media as “the most despised and revered Arab journalist,” has been voted the best TV presenter in the Arab world for many years. He is also the author of several books including Politics and Literature, and Memorise and Shut Up: The Lost Dialogue in Arab Culture. Previously, he was a producer and host for MBC Television, and for more than nine years a producer and presenter for the BBC Arabic Service.

Azmi Bishara – Political Analyst
Upon completing his Ph.D in philosophy at Humbodt University in Germany, Dr. Bishara joined the faculty of Bir Zeit University in 1986 and headed the philosophy and political science departments. He was also the director of research at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. He is one of the principal founders of Muwatin – The Palestinian Institute for the Research of Democracy. Dr. Bishara publishes in Arabic, English, German and Hebrew, writing articles and editing books on issues of nationalism, democracy and civil society, Islam and democracy and the Palestinian question. Among his books are A Contribution to the Critique of Civil Society, and The Fragmented Political Discourse. He was awarded the “Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought” for the year 2002 in Berlin and the Global Exchange Human Rights Award for the year 2003 in San Francisco. Dr. Bishara was a key founder of the political party that he represents in the Knesset, the National Democratic Assembly.
Michael Oreskes – Editor, The International Herald Tribune
Michael Oreskes became executive editor of the International Herald Tribune in May 2005. Previously, he was deputy managing editor of The New York Times from November 2004. In that role, he oversaw the Times’ Web and television content. During this period, television programmes produced by The New York Times won numerous awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University, the George Polk, the George Foster Peabody, Harvard’s Goldsmith, and several Emmy awards. Previously, Mr. Oreskes served as the Times’ Washington bureau chief. During his four-and-a-half year tenure bureau members won three Pulitzer Prizes. Prior to Washington, Mr. Oreskes served as metropolitan editor, during which time the metro desk won two Pulitzer Prizes and a Polk Award for local reporting. From 1987 until 1991, he served as congressional correspondent and national political correspondent in the Washington bureau.
Haroon Siddiqui – Editor Emeritus, The Toronto Star
Haroon Siddiqui is columnist for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. He is among Canada’s most honoured journalists, having won numerous journalistic awards as well as being conferred with the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour, as well as the Order of Ontario. He is The Star‘s former editorial page editor, national editor, news editor and correspondent. He has covered, among other events, the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution, the Iran-Iraq war, the war on terrorism, and the emergence of China and India as global economic powers. He is author of Being Muslim, a study on the impact of 9/11 on Muslims around the world. Siddiqui is the past president of PEN Canada, and director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Abdul Bari Atwan – Chief Editor, Al Quds Al Arabi 
Abdul Bari Atwan has been editor-in-chief at Al Quds Al Arabi since 1989. Though born in Palestine, he has lived in London for 30 years and is a familiar face on CNN, SKY, ITN and the BBC where he presents the opinion, experience and analysis of Arab writers – voices rarely heard in the Western media. He has published studies about Middle East politics and media, and is a lecturer in British and Arab universities. From 1984-1989 he was managing editor for Al Sharq Al Awsat and Al Majallah magazine. He is also author of the new book The Secret History of Al Qaeda, published in 2006.
Allister Sparks – Founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, South Africa
Allister Sparks is a veteran journalist with more than 50 years of experience, most of which was spent on exposing the Apartheid regime in South Africa. He has been editor of SABC TV News, the Sunday Express, and Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg, correspondent for The Economist, The Washington Post, The Observer in London and Holland’s NRC Handelsblad. In 1979 he was named joint International Editor of the Year. In 1985 he received Britain’s premier award for foreign reporting, and was nominated for a Pulitzer prize. In 1992 he founded the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism which has trained more than 13,000 journalists from the African continent. Sparks has written three books on South Africa, The Mind of South Africa (1989), Tomorrow is Another Country (1994), and Beyond the Miracle.
Steve Clark – Director of News & Programmes, Al Jazeera English
Steve Clark’s career includes high-level roles at ITN, Central/Carlton TV, LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation), MBC (Middle East Broadcasting) and Sky News. Before joining Al Jazeera, Steve was Executive Producer of Sky News. Prior to that Steve spearheaded the revamp of LBC’s international news operation in Lebanon and also supervised the successful transfer of MBC/Al Arabiya’s news operation from London to Dubai. Previously he worked as Director of News and Programmes for MBC based in London where he revitalised MBC’s news, programming content and strategy. He was also Controller of Factual Programmes at ITV, in the UK.

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