THE BLOG

Bringing Journalists Together Across Enemy Lines

11/03/2010 04:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's not by chance that we, a Jordanian journalist and an Israeli journalist, are posting this story together. Rather, thanks to the advances of modern technology and to the efforts of international organizations in harnessing that technology, namely the Internet, journalists worldwide have access to valuable sources -- and to each other.

Thanks to the tools and tips offered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and its International Journalists' Network website, IJNet, we are not the only journalists who have benefited from such a positive and rewarding experience. This organization gives journalists from across the globe and the political spectrum, from different religions and a variety of backgrounds, an opportunity to hone and refine their skills in order to reach the highest level of professionalism.

Soon ICFJ is relaunching IJNet, making it an even richer resource for journalists across the globe, especially for those like us who live in regions of conflict.

It is thanks to such initiatives that we have found avenues for our joint work. When we met two years ago at a workshop run by the European Neighborhood Journalism Network, we had no idea that we would eventually find enough common ground to allow us to work together.

Our work together was, at first, only about information sharing. Then, it was about seeing the conflict from the other side, and eventually it became about finding an outlet -- one that would not be perceived as taking sides -- for joint Arab-Israeli stories.

It was about this time last year that we happened upon IJNet and its listings of opportunities for mid-career journalists like us. We were looking for something specific and both signed up for ICFJ's online course, "Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age."

Through such courses, which are run in Arabic, English and other languages, ICFJ's online course platform, ICFJ Anywhere, has utilized the technological revolution to promote open channels between journalists from all over the globe. It has unlocked the doors and offered writers like us -- not far apart in physical distance but worlds apart culturally and politically -- opportunities that we would not usually have.

Often peace initiatives lack funding, and in our respective countries, few news media are willing to sponsor such stories. In the words of one local newspaper editor: "Peace does not sell papers."

Still, ICFJ encouraged us to work together on a story that would bridge the divide between our two countries. Earlier this year we beat all the odds to write a cross-cultural story that avoided the potent politics in our region. We were then awarded the first United Nations Alliance of Civilizations X-Cultural Reporting Award for "Why We Can't Write This Story," which was published by the Huffington Post and numerous other media outlets, as well as translated into several languages.

For our part, we are confident it won't be much longer before IJNet finds us another opportunity to work together.