May 09 2012
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Digital media reshaping traditional journalism
Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, opened the Arab Media Forum (AMF) at Grand Hyatt in the presence of several sheikhs and senior officials.
The keynote address by well-known Arab scientist Farouk Al-Baz stressed the need to educate more than 120 million Arabs who cannot read and to encourage youth participation in raising standards of Arabic language that will aid development.
A workshop titled 'The Electronic Media Generation: Journalists by Instinct,' highlighted the success of social networks and blogs in competing with major media outlets.
The workshop discussed ways in which new media is altering information dissemination and the effect it has on traditional media channels.
The workshop examined the possibility for media to participate in the cultural development of young people to promote their overall awareness, powers of discretion and capacity for evaluating and selecting newsworthy content.
Moderated by Amna Al-Ali, professor, Foundation of Education, UAE University, the panel additionally featured Ali Al-Kheshaiban, writer, Al Riyadh Newspaper, Al-Sadek Al-Hamami, professor, faculty of communications, University of Sharjah, Ghada Abdel Moneim, writer and philosopher, Egypt, Lahib Bani Sakher, social activist, Jordan, and Magda Abu Fadil, director, Media Unlimited, Lebanon.
"Electronic media has imposed new values on traditional media," Al-Kheshaiban said during the session.
"Moreover, with the large youth population utilizing social media for the exchange of information the fear is that they will lose sight of their values and the ethics of journalism. I strongly believe that the youth is knowledgeable enough to analyze information. However, it remains crucial to create awareness and educate them in order to have a perfect balance between new and traditional media."
A second workshop titled 'Twitter Stars and the Echo of Tweets' addressed the use of social networks in the Arab world and their influence on communities. It also examined the nature of content on Twitter, as well as its credibility, ethics of practice, and efficacy over traditional media.
Panelists said the Twitter has given the regular citizen a powerful platform and a voice that was previously unavailable to them.
Moderated by Nasser Al-Sarami, head of media, Al Arabiya News Channel, the panel featured Abdulaziz Al-Shalan, new media expert, Saudi Arabia, Ammar Mohamed, blogger, Qatar; Amr Salama, blogger and writer, Egypt; Dima Khatib, blogger, and Mohammed Abdallah Al-Qabi, producer, Fujairah, UAE.
Highlighting the overwhelming impact of Twitter in today's world, Abdulaziz Al-Shalan said: "It is my belief that anyone who embraces Twitter for their agenda, either for personal, political or social purposes, can truly change the world. With my own personal account, it has been my goal to provide information that is useful to a large number of people."
Ammar Mohamed said: "Twitter has given the people a voice and added immense value to the ongoing political change in the region. However, it is important to harness this platform for objectives other than raising political awareness. I have now moved away from politics to focus more on using my Twitter presence for cascading benefits on the social and community front."
Amr Salama's blog boasts more than 150,000 followers, while his YouTube channel has received more than 1.50 million views.
A third workshop titled 'Arab Youth Create Own Media Platform,' which was conceptualized by media students from UAE-based colleges and universities noted the phenomenal role new media has played in shaping the course of events during the Arab Spring.
While traditional media remains the mainstay of news dissemination, new media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, are gaining a larger role in the Arab region.
While a significant drawback of new media is the credibility quotient of its content, panelists noted that an increasing number of regional journalists are also using the new media platform to connect with their readership base.
The workshop examined the quality of media courses at universities and the media's capacity to empower a generation of young journalists.
© Arab News 2012
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