The Role of the Arab Media in the Internet Age

The Role of the Arab Media in the Internet Age

  • 20 May 2013

My colleagues are working toward the launch of a new Arabic news channel — Al-Arab News Channel. In this endeavor we face a variety of challenges that any newcomer to the market might expect to encounter; there are many good news channels out there which have already built up extensive experience and expertise. These challenges aside, I often find myself wondering how and when our viewers might watch our channel. I think my colleagues in this profession ask themselves the same question. News channels today work in a rapidly evolving environment, and media organizations are changing day by day — not only satellite news channels, but also newspapers and magazines. News websites face the same challenges, especially considering the fact that new media are expected to dominate the market in the future.

After pondering over these challenges, I believe I have found a potential solution that will apply to all, i.e. news channels, newspapers, magazines or websites; it comprises the following:

- Interaction with clients, consumers or users (readers, viewers, listeners).

- The client, consumer or user (reader, viewer or listener) should see his image/status reflected in the media organization.

- Online social networks should be utilized wisely (for diffusion, and for content-making processes). This requires more than creating a Twitter account where you display some links or addresses to your channel or newspaper. Content should be presented in a specialized format that is different to what we are used to. We must also be prepared for perpetual adaptation to the needs of users.

- While these points relate to the process of re-packaging content, online social networks have also became a source of news as well as a medium of transmission. This fact became evident in the media coverage of the terrorist attack at the Boston marathon in mid-April. The US media broadcast a variety of stories about the attacks through social networks, which have taken their place alongside the other tools at the disposal of modern journalists; today, a good journalist should be proficient in using social networks, and must appreciate their utility.

- Competition and rivalry with independent journalists; remember that junior journalists will not remain junior forever. Also, those who remain truly independent are the ones who are able to experiment and innovate, while a huge establishment works within rules and strict regulations which slow down its evolution (some blogs and online newspapers have even abandoned the role of Editor-in-Chief).

- Your channel should have a presence in all new forms of media, none of which should be trivialized. Users often surprise us by accepting some of these tools, interacting with them and helping them develop.

In this age, all media organizations should make content available on smart phones and tablet devices and should cater to these devices in all their various incarnations (Bloomberg channel, for example, has more than five applications for smart phones).

- As for interaction with the audience; viewers should see themselves reflected in the news channel or newspaper in a satisfying manner. However, such interaction should not expand to an extent that renders' organizations become vulnerable to litigation.

The biggest challenge facing media organizations in the Internet age is represented by the fact that the media trio (users, editors, advertisers) does not know how news bulletins will be watched five years from now, or on which device it will be watched. Therefore, we may ask: will there be newspapers in the future? will there be TV sets in the future? Regardless of the outcomes to these questions, we can be assured that the profession of journalism will survive, as without it there would be no content for media organizations.



Monday 20 May 2013


Monday 20 May 2013