Women flourish in Saudi media, says first female Editor-In-Chief

Women flourish in Saudi media, says first female Editor-In-Chief
Somayya Jabarti, Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Gazette, KSA during the WAN-IFRA in Dubai on Wednesday 24, February 2016. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd

Dubai - The first female Editor-in-Chief of a Saudi newspaper, Saudi Gazette's Somayya Jabarti said that she never imagined she would reach such a prominent position in Saudi media.



by

Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Wed 24 Feb 2016, 3:01 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Feb 2016, 5:13 PM

Despite being the first female Editor-in-Chief of a Saudi newspaper, Saudi Gazette's Somayya Jabarti says she is the latest in a series of pioneering Saudi women who are transforming the face of journalism in the Kingdom. 
Jabarti, who was appointed Editor-In-Chief of the Saudi Gazette in February 2014, has over ten years of experience in the newspaper business as a reporter and Deputy-In-Chief of the only two English publications in Saudi Arabia, and has the distinction of being the only Saudi reporter on the ground to cover Egypt's 2011 revolution, and in 2015 was named on the BBC 100 Women List. 
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the WAN-IFRA Middle East Conference, Jabarti said that she never imagined she would reach such a prominent position in Saudi media. 
"I didn't want the position. I think the most exciting bit about working in a newsroom is the field, is journalism," she said. "With 'first-woman' positions in Saudi Arabia, there is a huge responsibility. Because it's not just about you. It's an experiment and it needs to be successful, because you want the powers that be to get encouraged to bring other women into leadership positions." 
"Of course, like any anyone else I'd rather be free as a bird in the field, than be boggled down with that," she added. "I never had my eye on positions. Given that it's the media, it doesn't get more public than that." 
Despite being in a high-level leadership position, Jabarti said she tries her best to remain grounded and aware of realities on the ground. 
"You can't move things or change things if you're just up in the air. I think that's one of the reasons sometimes the right decisions don't get made, because managers get removed from reality of what's happening," she said. "You really need to stay connected to that." 
Despite the perception abroad that media in Saudi Arabia is male-dominated, Jabarti noted that she is "overlap between the third and the fourth" generation of Saudi women journalists. 
"I'm not the pioneering generation. I know people get surprised, but it's not a new thing in Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of women in broadcast. The majority in our newsrooms were always women," she said. "It wasn't because of a quota or anything. They just tend to walk in more, and we still have a higher ratio of women to men." 
"Even their stories tend to be much bolder. It's not that they're coming from liberal or conservative backgrounds, it's just that they're willing to go the distance," she added. 
Jabarti said that she is steadfast in her belief that having women in the media is vital to effecting changes within society. 
"I don't think people understand how important it is to be part of the media, as I believe the media is an agent of change, wherever it is," she said. "If you want to be part of that conversation, journalists have a big role to play." 
bernd@khaleejtimes.com

Somayya Jabarti, Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Gazette, KSA during the  WAN-IFRA in Dubai on Wednesday 24, February 2016. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Somayya Jabarti, Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Gazette, KSA during the WAN-IFRA in Dubai on Wednesday 24, February 2016. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Somayya Jabarti, Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Gazette, KSA during the  WAN-IFRA in Dubai on Wednesday 24, February 2016. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Somayya Jabarti, Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Gazette, KSA during the WAN-IFRA in Dubai on Wednesday 24, February 2016. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd

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