May Chidiac

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May Chidiac (Arabic: مي شدياق‎) (born June 20, 1963) is a Lebanese Maronite journalist.

Chidiac is a former television journalist at the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) and one of the station's main television anchors until an assassination attempt on her life. She was one of the few critics of Syria's keeping troops stationed in Lebanon after the end of the Lebanese Civil War and charged that the Taif Accords stipulated that Syria withdraw from Lebanon. On the day she was attacked, after the Cedar Revolution and Syria's troop withdrawal from Lebanon earlier that year, she hosted a talk show in which she criticized Syria's continuous meddling in Lebanon's affairs and voiced fears of further violence ahead of the UN report on the death of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri. On February 3, 2009, she announced her resignation on her LBC show "Bi Kol Jor'a".

May Chidiac obtained her PhD in “Sciences de L’Information et de la Communication” with high distinction from Université Pantheon Paris II Assas in 2008. She continued her academic profession as a Journalism and Radio/TV professor at Notre Dame University- Louaize (NDU) till present. She also is the recipient of 2 honorary 2007/2008 masters in Journalism at SELCA – SORBONNE France.

In 2014, May Chidiac published her second book, “La télévision mise à nue | La politique et la television: Qui télécommande?”, Published by the "L'Orient des Livres". English and Arabic translations will be published in 2016. The book was awarded the "Phoenix Prize" which recognizes French books written by Lebanese writers.

Assassination Attempt[edit]

Chidiac was seriously injured on 25 September 2005, by a car bomb in Jounieh, Lebanon. The bomb which nearly killed her was a one-pound device, detonated as she entered her car. Her left leg below the knee was blown off and her hair and clothes were set on fire. She was in stable condition following the amputation of her severely injured left arm. The blast was one of a series of bombings in Lebanon mostly targeting critics of Syria, but including the centrist Lebanese defense minister, Elias Murr. One other prominent journalist, Samir Kassir, and anti-Syrian politicians including George Hawi and Gebran Tueni, editor and publisher of the daily newspaper, An-Nahar, were killed in these attacks.

After months of treatment and numerous surgeries in Beirut and Paris, May appeared on TV on May 25, 2006, defiant, smiling and promising to return to journalism.

On 27 January 2006, Chidiac announced her candidacy for the vacated Maronite seat in Lebanon's Baabda-Aley district in a televised interview.

On 12 July 2006, May Chidiac returned to Beirut. Her first visit in Lebanon was to the shrine of Saint Charbel, in the Byblos region. This was the location where she spent the day before the attack on her life. She participated in a mass celebrated by the superior of the monastery, Fr. Tannous Nehme.

In 2007, May Chidiac published her biography, Le Ciel m'attendra (French for "heaven can wait”)[1] in which she tells her painful experience.

On February 3, 2009 May Chidiac made a surprise announcement on the air that she would cease presenting her acclaimed program "B Kil Jora'a" on LBC, as protest to political interference in her work and the oppression of journalists. Through this unprecedented protest, she was successful in restoring respect to both the profession of journalism and Lebanon's living martyrs.

Awards and Contributions[edit]

Throughout her career, Chidiac has received numerous international awards and prizes of which are “Le Prix de la Francophonie pour la Liberté d’expression”.

On 27 October 2006 May Chidiac received one of the three Courage in Journalism Awards presented by the International Women's Media Foundation.[2] The award ceremony was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. An American reporter kidnapped in Iraq and a Chinese journalist twice jailed for her economic and political reporting also received this award.

On June 2006, she received the “CRANS Montana Foundation Award” for Freedom of Expression offered by his Royal Highness Prince Albert De Monaco, Monte Carlo.

On 3 May 2006, UNESCO awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to May Chidiac in recognition of her courage in defending and promoting freedom of the press.

On December 2007, May Chidiac was honored in the frame of “She Made It” by the Museum of Television and Radio, New York, USA

On April 20016, she received the “Honorary Award” presented by his Royal Highness Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

On 3 May 2007, the former French president, Jacques Chirac awarded May Chidiac the Legion of Honour at the Elysée Palace in Paris.[3] Chirac described Chidiac as a "symbol of free speech in Lebanon."[4]

On March 2008, She was honored as a prominent and audacious figure in politics and journalism during the Olympe De Gouge event, at Montauban France.

In December 2010, The “Prix Verité” (TRUTH PRIZE) was awarded to Chidiac for the book “Le Ciel M’attendra” 2007, in La Ville de Cannet, Cannes, France

In 2010, Chidiac was named one of the International Press Institute's World Press Freedom Heroes.[5]

Dr. May Chidiac has participated in significant symposiums and colloquiums such as the UN’s Resolution 1325 Symposium in Vienna, the University of Sidney Ideas Talk, the International Press Institute Congress in South Africa and Jordan, UNESCO International Colloquium in Beirut, and UNESCO’s Global Forum on Media and Gender in Thailand, its former Regional Forum for Media Development, as well as its Symposium for Freedom of Expression.

“She is a member of the High Panel on Peace and Dialogue among cultures – UNESCO (New avenues for peace).

May Chidiac Foundation[edit]

In 2009, on the fourth anniversary of Chidiac’s assassination attempt, the May Chidiac Foundation (MCF) was launched – a non-profit organization mainly dedicated to training, research, and education on issues of media, democracy, and social welfare. Shortly after, she launched its affiliated Media Institute, a non-profit organization aiming at supporting the development of knowledge and media production industries by providing young generations with the needed foundations to foster freedom of expression, human rights, democracy, and good governance.

Relying on a partnership with high education institutions, the Media Institute offers support to professionals and students in region to experience practical learning in media.

The May Chidiac Foundation believes that by supporting the development of knowledge production industries, it can greatly contribute to make Lebanon a proactive player in the whole Middle East and the global economy, thus providing our country with the needed foundations to foster freedom of expression, human rights, and good governance.

May Chidiac Foundation’s contribution is articulated not only the Media Institute, but also around applied actions such as launching the MCF-Media Awards, organizing workshops, seminars, and conferences related to best practices of freedom of the press.

Through the past years, MCF has organized several regional conferences that have covered media-related issues such as the “Free Connected Minds” conference s, a one-day conference that aims at exploring a fresh set of ideas involving local and international connectivity through interactive debates on imperative social, economic, political, and communication concerns that impact collective thinking. Speakers will be sharing their experience in front of political leaders, high economical figures and people from the industry fields.

The other prominent annual conference is the “Women on the Front Lines” conference. WOFL is a yearly event that takes place annually in the first week of March on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. “Women on the Front Lines” is a conference about women who have inspired change and leadership in the fields of politics, media, business, human rights, film industry, and public affairs. It’s an enlightening and prolific day featuring local, regional, and international women role models discussing their success and failures, as well as providing conference attendees, both men and women, with recommendations on the way forward in order to improve the status of women in the world.

In addition to the conferences, MCF rewards each year in its annual Gala Dinner & Media Awards Ceremony influential media figures in the forms of:

MCF Antoine Choueiri Special Tribute for Lifetime Achievement Award honoring media professionals who have performed exceptional and consistent achievements spanning over a career in journalism, MCF Engaged Journalist Award honoring journalists who are exceptionally dedicated to their cause, MCF Courage in Journalism Award honoring journalists who have faced and

survived dangers in order to uncover the truth, MCF Outstanding Audiovisual Performance Award honoring journalists with broadcasts and presentations of extraordinary quality in audiovisual media.

The Awardees were Awardees in the above mentioned categories: Ghassan Tueni, Pierre Sadek, Christiane Amanpour, Elizabeth Weymouth, Nasser Assad, Ghada Oueiss, Anas Aremeyaw, Dalia Al Aqidi, Sebastian Rich, Edith Bouvier, Giles Duley, Nicholas Henin, Baker Atyani, Arwa Damon, Najwa Kassem, Ibrahim Issa, Ayman Mohyeldin, Amine Boukhris.

Two reports were played at the 2013 event, one by the director of the “Audiovisuel Extérieur de France” Mrs. Marie Christine Saragosse and the other by the director of "Reporters without Borders " Christophe De Loire who both stressed on the importance of MCF’s contribution in supporting freedom of speech and raising the level of journalistic integrity.

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