Dubai-UAE: 8 May, 2012 – In the current climate of transition from a politically dependent era to that of democratic freedom, Arab media must assume an attitude of self-imposed professionalism and responsibility in conjunction with the government and public at large, according to panellists on the opening day of the 11th Arab Media Forum (AMF 2012).
Titled ‘Arab Media and the Shock of Change’, the session examined the community’s role in transforming Arab media, and highlighted the impact of new satellite channels and newspapers on conventional media.
Moderated by Naoufer Afli, Anchor, Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), the session was additionally headlined by Al Mahdi Mabrouk, Minister of Culture, Tunisia; Abdellatif El Menawy, former President for News Sector, Egyptian TV; Mousa Barhouma, Editor-in-Chief, Fil Mirsad electronic newspaper, Jordan; Randa Habib, Director, Middle East and North Africa, Agence France Presse (AFP) Foundation, and Sawsan Al Shaer, writer, Bahrain.
Highlighting the relative disarray within Tunisian media structures, Al Mahdi Mabrouk said: “Tunisia is facing a unique situation where the media is undergoing radical transformations. It is just over a year since Bu Aziz set the revolutions rolling. Within such a short time, it is illogical to expect a shift from propaganda media to independent media. Such transition takes time. In due course, the media will find a voice that is unbiased and fair.”
Examining the concerns faced by the Egyptian media, Abdellatif El Menawy added: “The catchword during this time of transition is social responsibility. We need to focus on journalistic ethics and use our power to bring about change. It is time for journalists to start enacting a format for the future.”
The debate particularly focused on the question of whether the voices of ‘controlled media’ and ‘praise and defamation media’ have been subdued.
Randa Habib said: “We are witnessing a transition from the regime era to an era of optimism. The media is a mirror of this transition. Moving forward, we need a code of conduct and professionalism that all journalists can adopt. One needs to bear in mind that we have spent years in tyranny and oppression and we need time and experience. We are training. It is time for qualitative transformations that break away from the patriarchal regime.”
Habib added: “There is now a plethora of information that people are longing to access within the new democratic framework. We need a hierarchy of experienced journalists who can censor the information, not based on what people want but what is true.”
Adding to Habib’s viewpoint, Sawsan Al Shaer said: “In Bahrain, the regime has failed to highlight the society’s achievement through the media. Looking ahead, we need a free media that is self-controlled and serves as a forum of representation for both the government and the people.”
Highlighting the possibility of forming new media outlets that connect with the viewers and match their aspirations, Mousa Barhouma pointed out: “The psychological structure of Arab media was torn apart. Now, we must aim for stability and build an environment of democracy. Journalists need to abide by a moral code of conduct and support the new structure.”
Themed ‘Arab Media: Exposure and Transition’, AMF will conclude on 9 May at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. The two-day event has drawn the participation of over 3,000 regional and international journalists, as well as influential decision makers, opinion leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.
In the run up to AMF 2012, Dubai Press Club released the key findings of the fourth Arab Media Outlook, providing projections for the regional media sector up to 2015. Every attendee to AMF 2012 has been handed a copy of the report.
Dubai Press Club pioneers the use of latest technology for ensuring a wider dissemination of the forum’s outcomes. This year, it has instituted a digital reporter to broadcast the proceedings of the sessions on social media, live from the venue.
In its commitment to building an informed next-generation of media professionals in the UAE, DPC engages the participation of young UAE nationals for volunteering roles. Dubai Press Club has also drawn upon their perspectives to shape the agenda for a panel discussion that brings together young Emirati achievers to share their views on latest trends in the media sector.
The Arab Media Forum has garnered year-on-year success through the past 10 editions, validating Dubai and the UAE’s ability to host such high-profile events that draw a significant international media presence.
The Arab Media Forum is the Middle East’s most prominent media event every year. Beginning in 2001 and organized by the Dubai Press Club under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Forum has consistently tried to facilitate in-depth debates and exchange of ideas on the media in the region. www.arabmediaforum.ae.
Dubai Press Club (DPC) is the Arab world’s preeminent media development organization. Established in 1999 as per the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Club has evolved over a period of one eventful decade into the most sought after platform for heads of state, eminent government officials, intellectuals, writers and other dignitaries to reach out to the media and communicate their message. It offers unparalleled services to its journalist members. It has played a pioneering role in the development of the Arab media through a host of media development initiatives, the most vital among them being the Arab Media Forum, the Arab Journalism Award and the Arab Media Outlook. www.dpc.org.ae.