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Arab Media Forum Disappointment!

Yesterday was the first time for me to attend the Arab Media Forum. I had a meeting at the morning but luckily I finished just in time to catch the session I was really interested in attending; “Daily Newspapers: Crisis in the West, growth in the Arab World."

We have all been arguing about the death of printed media and the rise of digital and social media. Yet one year ago, The National newspaper was launched in the UAE and a couple of months ago Alrroya Aleqtisadiya newspaper did. In Egypt I honestly lost track of newspapers launched as every now and then I hear of a new one. My colleague just read that a new printed newspaper will launch in Oman. Does this look like a growth in printed media or what?

So I was really looking forward to the session hoping it would shed the light on the reasons behind this growth or proving the death of printed media, especially with the prominent media figures speaking and attending. I was expecting a great debate and a heated discussion among all attendees, but what a major disappointment I had.

The first disappointment was when I found out that the editor in chief of Al Masry Al Youm newspaper, Magdy El Galad, didn’t show up. I was really looking forward to hearing the opinion of the man who runs a relatively new newspaper that managed in a couple of years to attract millions of readers and to even surpass other famous newspapers in Egypt that have been there for decades. I still don’t know why he didn’t show up and no one even tried to explain the reason behind his absence as if he was never part of this forum at all!

The second disappointment was when each speaker simply recited his speech and you could see how most of them were backing the idea of printed media dying, then, and because apparently the whole forum was running behind schedule there wasn’t enough time for a good Q&A. Hence no debate or heated discussion =O(

The third disappointment was when I found myself coming out of the forum with no added value at all. I mean before attending the session I knew that digital media provides more freedom of speech and that printed media is dying in the west. I knew that social media tools like twitter and facebook are widely used in all aspects of life; business, politics, social networking … etc. So what’s new?

I hoped to hear those who believe in the death of printed media to tell me why I still have dozens of newspapers delivered to my doorstep every morning and why new newspapers keep launching and what are they doing to join the digital era since they believe it is arriving to the Middle East.

I wanted to hear from those defending the existence of printed media other reason than merely “A Man can’t enjoy his morning coffee without reading the newspaper and smelling the ink”.

I was expecting more from all the media figures at this session. I was expecting logical answers, I was expecting a discussion between the speakers to analyze the real situation here in the Middle East and discuss all aspects affecting printed or digital media. I mean why should I think that printed media is dying because a couple of people at the mall said they use mobile and internet to access news. Why should I believe that these examples represent the majority of people in the Middle East when I know for a fact that just as there are thousands of people who uses web2.0 and other technologies to access news, there are also millions of people who are still computer illiterate.

Why should I believe that printed media is dying because statistics show that users of facebook and twitter are over thousands when I know for a fact that there are millions who can’t even afford buying computers, yet can afford paying the 2 dirham to buy a newspaper.

The speeches given explaining why digital media was prevailing or why printed media is not dying didn’t provide me with the answers I was looking for. I think I was expecting a more realistic approach to the topic focusing on the conditions of the Arab world and not just speculations form some and reciting statistics from others.

Most of all what I expected and didn’t get was an answer to the main question which reflects the title of this session, “Why there is growth in the printed media in the Arab World when it is dying in the West”

So I ended up disappointed!

Comments

  1. I didn't attend it- and it doesn't look like I missed much- but I'm under the impression that what they said most of us already know by being a part of this industry in some way.
    Just because there's a rise in digital media, that doesn't necessarily mean that print media is dying. And you can't compare western media to arab media- they're very different so naturally the impact digital and print have on each other over there will differ from here. Are you sure those people are 'experts'?!

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