The Head of the Department of Journalism and Digital Media, Faculty of Mass Communication and Arts, Al-Maaref University, Dr Hatem El Zein has participated in the Fourth International Communication & Media Studies Conference hosted by the University of Bonn, Germany from 26 to 28 September.
In a presentation based on a paper, "The Coverage of the Syrian Refugees in the Lebanese Press: Case of Al-Akhbar Newspaper", Dr El Zein has pointed to the antagonist and protagonist coverage of the Syrian refugees in the Lebanese press.
As he showed figures about the Syrian refugees in Lebanon from the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees and pointed to significance of this topic demostically, regionally and globally and from intercultural communication perspective, Dr El Zein has contextualised his presentation through providing a brief background of the bilateral relations between Lebanon and Syria, and why there are concerns in Lebanon from - an agenda led by the United States of America - to settle the Syrian refugees in the country that has an undue suffer from the deterioration of economy and political division.
In answering the question, how does Al-Akhbar newspaper depict the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Dr El Zein's paper has reviewed the literature about the coverage of the Syrian refugees in the Lebanese media outlets, in general and the Lebanese press, in particular, and then the paper analyses a sample of reports and articles published in Al-Akhbar newspaper.
The data selected for analysis are classified into three categories to denote three images: political, economic and social. This categorisation has helped in drawing the findings of the paper, and hence to answer its postulated question.
The paper argues that Al-Akhbar newspaper discourse presentsvthe humanitarian side of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and refrains from representing them in a racist way. Drawing on this editorial policy, the newspaper does not highlight the negative impact of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon whether on the environment or the deteriorated economy.
The paper has concluded that the adoption of the term 'displaced' by Al-Akhbar newspaper instead of 'refugee' to label the Syrians who fled their country to Lebanon is questionable. This term, which is used as well by the Lebanese government and many politicians, is incorrect because this term, according to the International Humanitarian Law, is usually used for those people who fled to safe areas inside their country.
At the end, Dr El Zein has illuminated the significance of the positive role of journalism in presenting a rational and a tolerant discourse, and this will be in favor of a healthy intercultural communication.