From one Arabic newspaper to social media influencers

From one Arabic newspaper to social media influencers

Dubai - Traditional media has evolved into the digital age.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Thu 19 Dec 2019, 9:58 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Dec 2019, 10:10 AM

From journalists type-writing their reports or dictating the day's events to their editors, to live reporting on digital and social media platforms ... media in the UAE has come a long way. News and information travel within seconds now, thanks to technology. Traditional media is sharing the news space with social media influencers.
Also read: Free Arabic learning e-platform launched in UAE

The news business has been around in the country since before the Union. The first Arabic newspaper, Al Ittihad, began its journey in 1969. More Arabic newspapers launched in the next few years. In the summer of 1978, Khaleej Times - the UAE's first English newspaper - was born. The late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum opened the newspaper in April. In the next few years, the country saw a Print media boom.

The UAE got its TV and radio stations in the late 1960s. Channel 33, the first English channel from Dubai, started operations in 1977.

Traditional media has evolved into the digital age and today acts as a credible source of information for the masses online.

Looking back, K. Chandrasenan, director, Pravasi Bharathi Broadcasting Corporation Abu Dhabi, said the advent of media houses in the UAE is linked closely with the discovery of oil in the 1960s.

"When expats reached here in droves, there was an equal appetite for news. The UAE leadership had a vision for the country to march forward. The media informed the world about developments in the UAE."

Chandrasenan noted the UAE became a powerful media hub with the opening of Dubai Media City in 2000. Media freezones later came up in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.
Fight against fake news
Hameed Yousuf, Youth Media Council member, National Media Council, noted that the Internet and new technologies have revolutionised the media scene dramatically. "Radio, print and TV are now on digital platforms in the forms of podcasts and streaming services."

Yousuf said modern-day journalism requires skillsets to drive consumption in the digital world.

"It isn't only about reporting facts but using keywords that can give the story an amplified reach among other information on the Internet. We have accidental social journalists, one of them being termed influencers, who have grasped this space and given a much more authoritative positioning which brings us to certain challenges that will need to be tackled now and upgraded to safeguard public interests."

He stressed that immediate attention was needed to tackle fake news. Youth Media Council has been tasked to spot fake news and promote local media. But the process, he said, will take time.

"There are solutions to tackle text-based content. However we are at a nascent stage to tackle audio and visual content. Something as simple as a meme can pass through the radar," he added.

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