Death of Traditional Arab Print Media in the Digital Age

Published January 14th, 2020 - 09:02 GMT
Some experts believe that the vital role of traditional media, especially paper-based press, should not give up to modern social media networks.

I have attended a seminar recently on the role of Arab conventional media in the era of digital media age where some experts shared their views on the importance that governments should continue supporting conventional media by allocating certain budgets to improve performance and role domestically and regionally.

Conventional media will keep up with the new world challenges in terms of accuracy, and reliability, being a reference to ensure news validity; however, a dire need is required to develop media and journalism curricula in addition to teaching methods, and to introduce state-of-the-art technological and academic programmes to develop their performance. 

They pointed out that conventional media channels, newspapers, TV and radio, are still a reference to ensure the validity of information transmitted by news sites on social media platforms. This does not apply only to Western audience, but also to a large segment of the Arab public.

In the coming era, classical media (conventional) will have an increased role, particularly newspapers, because they are based on professionalism, experience, credibility, responsibility and accuracy, with rich content, befitting and respecting audience. However, they have to develop their content and improve the message conveyed when addressing issues in order not to lose a large segment of readers/viewers in favour of social media, which have become media platforms for reporting news, regardless of the extent of accuracy, credibility and professionalism.

It is important for media to evolve with the digital generation and the age of technology, and it is also important to be able to meet the needs of readers or viewers using video technologies, audio recordings and high resolution images, and to have accounts on social networking sites to modernise services extended in order to compete.

The inability of the media to keep abreast with the changes and assimilation of new ideas will lead to further isolation of the journalist from daily events, forcing the professionals from being present in daily incidents and coverage. Thus, media variables require the preparation of journalists or media professionals with new specifications and skills different from those currently employed in the media field, where content and layout are of utmost importance to convey the message. 

For many media experts, the most important changes facing conventional media sector are the presence of alternative media based on social media, in addition to the methodologies resorted to when dealing with information in a professional and unbiased manner, noting that it is imperative to include media training programmes to advance the sector and formulate a system to meet such challenges.

Thus, media organisations have to allocate a budget to train its personnel to deal with the changes taking place in the new media sector at a time competition is on the rise between various media outlets, as a new generation of media professionals has become proficient when dealing with social media. However, what such a professional urgently requires is field experience in various political, economic and social subjects, which require choosing the appropriate way to present them in conventional media coverage. In the coming decade, the world will witness the prevalence of artificial intelligence in media work, without excluding that a robot would occupy many media jobs.

Furthermore, media content is an essential basis for the development of media institutions. Thus, there is a necessity to address the needs of the public, not those of the elite or politicians, by adhering to the ethics of media work and developing the capabilities of workers in the media. Therefore, it is important to review editorial policies in many media institutions and launch positive initiatives, including research centres that contribute to supporting credibility and providing adequate information. The most important is training staff on how information.

Another important aspect is the importance of emphasising the true role of balanced media with all its mechanisms in light of the widespread of social media, and the necessity to prepare media content to meet the requirements of the public, benefitting from modern technologies which provide media content on their websites along with smart phone devices.

Thus, the future of the news industry in the era of the Internet and the opportunities available in light of the widespread of smart phone devices and the ability to benefit from such advances to create greater impacts should go hand in hand with building a new generation of journalists who have media missions consistent with the goals of national sustainable development.

For conventional media to thrive in the digital age, it is important to have excellent writers and analysts who have credibility to convince and shed light on various issues, and who have no hidden agendas. Therefore, it is a must for the press institutions to consider the changes in the media, the most important of which is modern media that is managed through media communication sites. Besides, there is a need to hire young media professionals who do not seek fame at the expense of credibility and accuracy. 

Shehab Al Makahleh is a columnist for the Jordan Times 

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