UNA Forum calls on member news agencies to take initiative in confronting COVID-19

Union of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) News Agencies (UNA) has called upon the official news agencies to take the initiative and not miss the opportunity given amidst the coronavirus pandemic to restore their roles in which the so-called social media stars and citizen media (social networking sites) have been competing with them.

“This can be attained by further scientific qualification and continuous training for its specialized cadres and by enhancing creativity and innovation in various branches of media while taking advantage of the opportunities provided by modern communication media and applications of broad access to the public and officials,” the UNA said in its communiqué.

The UNA held its first virtual media forum “The Role and News Agencies in Supporting Efforts to Confront Coronavirus Pandemic” in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The event was chaired by Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, Acting Minister of Media in Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Union.

UNA also called upon the member news agencies to engage in the practical and training programs and activities organized by the Union, as well as in the forum programs and sessions.

Member news agencies in the OIC countries should unify and coordinate their outreach efforts and develop effective mechanisms for the exchange of successful media experiences and practices to maximize their utilization in the field of disseminating health policies and awareness instructions to confront the coronavirus pandemic.

The news agencies and the Union should also promote the exchange of news and media reports that achieve integration among member states as they face coronavirus and other crises, the communiqué said.

The forum emphasized the paramount importance of the media, particularly the official news agencies, in raising awareness and educating people on many issues that concern all humanity, including climate change, the environment, and natural disasters, especially epidemics.

Media will remain the main source of the flow of accurate and credible information and news items.

It also stressed the pivotal role of official news agencies in the development process by highlighting the global efforts and the initiatives undertaken by international financial institutions and multilateral development banks to limit the spread of this pandemic and then mitigate its negative economic and social effects.

The Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA) has a crucial role in consolidating joint Islamic action, improving the media content that meets the aspirations of the peoples and governments of Islamic countries, and providing distinct and diverse news services characterized by accuracy and objectivity, the communiqué said.

The member news agencies and the Union should provide support and assistance to the Palestine News and Information Agency (WAFA) and Palestinian media professionals who are suffering two pandemics simultaneously – the coronavirus pandemic and occupation pandemic, the forum said.

The communiqué welcomed the launch of the activities of the Union of OIC News Agencies that target more than 2,000 media personnel in the OIC countries.

The forum appreciated the support and care of Saudi Arabia’s Acting Minister of Media, Chairman of the Union Executive Council, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, and OIC Secretary General, Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al Othaimeen for the Union’s projects and programs in favor of member states in various aspects.

The member states said they appreciated the announcement made during the forum by the President of the IsDB Group, Dr. Bandar Hajjar about the group’s willingness to enter into an effective and extended partnership with the Union to activate cooperation.

The group will support the Union’s development projects and programs by designing joint specialized training programs to prepare and qualify press and media figures from member states, to enable them to carry out investigative journalism campaigns and provide accurate and in-depth analyzes of the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The training will also develop their capabilities and improving their skills in media coverage of issues related to the economy and development and facing disasters and epidemics.

The forum expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, for the support and sponsorship they provide to the Union of OIC News Agencies.

It also extended gratitude to the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Azerbaijan for their support to the Union.