Impact of digital on journalism practices

Panelists during the discussion at the forum.


Ian Phillips, Middle East News Director, The Associated Press

Othman Al Omair, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Elaph E-Newspaper

Faisal Abbas, Editor-In-Chief, Al English

Can e-paper sustain itself?

Al Omair: It is important to have financial revenue to sustain journalistic work, pay staff and maintain expenses.

I am not the model to follow as a media institution. In these competitive times, we need to confront big changes. Any media work needs good financial and human resources. Elaph is independent so has a margin to play with.

Phillips: AP survived past 200 years. Media has gone from print to online. It is not a threat, but a must-have component – not just for AP but for all media audience.

In this digital era, there’s no hiding place. We can’t be everywhere anymore. We use the resources at hand. Smartphone users will be there first. It’s up to us to verify the news we carry.

In recent weeks at AP, we had cellphone footage of a Syrian prison being stormed. We did a bigger story around it with that footage.

Digital has positive or negative impact on Arab journalism?

Al Omair: Development in media is concrete and clear. But I do not see a possibility to abide by professionalism standards, especially with social media, where people can post their opinions. Now they get news from everywhere.

We need to work towards a good development of limitations and borders, without intervention from authorities.

Focus on the language and selection of terms is key, maintain being impartial. You cannot use ‘the enemy’. This can be used in an opinion pieces.

Any revolution in the world has its victims and errors. But at the end of the day, I see that there is a wide discussion of intimidation of accessing social media. We should open wide the gates of social media. Those who rebel have been confined in the past.

Phillips: Our mission in the media is to report the facts and be impartial. But we aspire reporting on things that change lives. Tell stories in ways that can make a difference.

On western media being biased:

The motto of journalism is for good, but there are media organisations with certain agendas. We have to be aware of it. And reader views are getting more sophisticated. Now you can instantly comment on a story.

On Donald Trump media coverage:

AP philosophy is when it is in the public interest, we report. We draw the line at propaganda.

When someone is running for office, you have to reflect and portray the news will affect their decisions.

On people using media to mobilise media for terrorism:

Al Omair: There are means to fight terrorism, without hindering or restricting media.