During a five-day workshop, a group of Moroccan media professionals and journalism students were last week introduced to the concept of visual journalism by colleagues from the United Arab Emirates. The workshop, which dealt with issues such as the relationship between newspaper designers and the editorial team, the role of photography in the Arab press and how to create a style book for a newspaper, was organised by WAN in collaboration with UNESCO in Morocco and the country's only public university-level journalism school ISIC, and aimed at the Arabic-language press in Morocco.
"There is a great need for training in this area," said one of the participants, underlining that the newspapers published in Arabic in Morocco lack greatly in design skills. "This workshop allowed for us to discover what one can do in the field of newspaper design, and how this influences the overall quality of a newspaper. Here in Morocco there is still a lot of work to be done in that area..."
The two trainers, Ramzi Rajab, Art Director at the Emarat Al Youm daily, and Bassel Al Rafayah, Managing Editor at Emarat Al Youm, focused on both the actual design process and the place design matters should have in the overall editorial process of a newspaper.
Rajab introduced the participants to the fundamentals of newspaper design and how to create a graphic project, while Al Rafayah spoke about how the visual aspect "makes the content happen" and how to have a designer vision as an editor. The last day of the workshop was dedicated to practical exercises.
During vivid discussions throughout the five days, the participants, who were both newspaper designers, sub-editors, journalists as well as teachers and students from ISIC (L'Institut SupÚrieur de l'Information et de la Communication), exchanged views of the role of newspaper design and its importance for a newspaper.
"Even if the Moroccan media environment is very different to that of the UAE, the trainers managed to show what one can do despite small means and limited resources. The introduction to the artistic process was very interesting, and inspired me to learn more," said a participant.