How Arab News' new bureaus and digital editions are shaping the brand's news agenda 

Dubai is one of the bureaus that Arab News has opened during the publication's expansion.
Updated 20 April 2018
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How Arab News' new bureaus and digital editions are shaping the brand's news agenda 

  • The first Arab News bureaus to open outside of Saudi Arabia were in London, Southeast Asia and Dubai
  • Most regional stories have an international dimension and Arab News has expanded to reflect that

JEDDAH: “Arab” news, for better or for worse, is rarely solely confined to the region.

From the bloody conflict in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the investment moves made by the wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, most regional stories have an international dimension — and this newspaper has expanded its global footprint to reflect that. 

Before September 2016, Arab News had no global bureaus or correspondents, nor did it have a vision for growing its international audience. 

Since that date, we have been creating new bureaus and recruiting new contributors regionally and internationally, as part of our “more digital, more global” strategy. This aims at attracting non-Arabic speakers across the world who are seeking specialist information about Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.

It means we can cover how the latest policy decision in Washington, a military move by Moscow, or a massive business investment from Beijing may impact the Arab world.

Just as decisions made on the global stage reverberate in the Middle East and North Africa, countries in the Arab world, notably Saudi Arabia, have ever closer ties with Western powers. Witness the ongoing visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the US.

The first Arab News bureaus to open outside of our headquarters in Saudi Arabia were in London, Southeast Asia and Dubai.

Award-winning journalist Baker Atyani leads the Southeast Asia bureau, with contributors in Islamabad, New Delhi, Kabul, Manila and Jakarta. Major stories from that bureau include an interview with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Our global operations are complemented by the Dubai bureau, headed by Ross Anderson and the London bureau, run by Ben Flanagan. 

On top of this, Arab News also has foreign contributors across the globe, reporting to Jonathan Lessware, the newspaper’s foreign editor.

Of course, the Middle East remains a key area of interest to our editors and readers. Regional contributors include Daoud Kuttab in Amman, Hazem Balousha in Gaza City, Najia Houssari in Beirut, Suadad Al-Salhy in Baghdad and Menekse Tokyay in Ankara.

As global interest in the Arab world grows, so does our network of contributors and readership. We are connecting the world. 


Quest for food stamp data lands newspaper at Supreme Court

After initially opposing the information’s release, the federal government reversed course after the Argus Leader took it to court and won. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019
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Quest for food stamp data lands newspaper at Supreme Court

  • Luther, who now works for InvestigateTV, said it’s “transparency 101” that “taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going”
  • The Trump administration is backing the grocery stores in arguing against the information’s release

WASHINGTON: In the summer of 2010, reporters at South Dakota’s Argus Leader newspaper decided to request data about the government’s food assistance program, previously known as food stamps. They thought the information could lead to a series of stories and potentially help them identify fraud in the now $65 billion-a-year program.
They sent a stream of what they thought were routine requests for information to Washington.
Government officials eventually sent back some information about the hundreds of thousands of stores nationwide where the food program’s participants could use their benefits. But the government withheld information reporters saw as crucial: how much each store received annually from the program.
Trying to get that data has taken the paper more than eight years and landed it at the Supreme Court, which will hear the case Monday.
Argus Leader news director Cory Myers, who directs a staff of 18 at the Sioux Falls paper, says getting the information is about “knowing how our government is operating” and “knowing what government is doing with our tax money.”
A supermarket trade association opposing the information’s release argues that the information being sought is confidential. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case could be narrow or could significantly affect the interpretation of a law that grants the public access to government records.
The Argus Leader is owned by USA Today publisher Gannett and is the largest newspaper in South Dakota. It wrote about the government’s initial release of information. But Jonathan Ellis, one of the reporters behind the requests, said there’s more to learn if the paper gets what it’s seeking.
Ellis said he would like to write about the companies who profit the most from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program , called SNAP. He would like to analyze how successful efforts to involve farmers’ markets in the program have been. And he is still hoping to use the data to identify stores that seem like outliers, an indication of potential fraud.
Megan Luther, the other reporter behind the requests, said the paper has been fighting for the information for reasons beyond “there’s a good story there.” Luther, who now works for InvestigateTV, said it’s “transparency 101” that “taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going.”
The paper has gotten close to getting the data before.
After initially opposing the information’s release, the federal government reversed course after the Argus Leader took it to court and won. But the Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute , a trade association representing grocery stores and supermarket chains, stepped in to continue the fight. The group lost an appeal, and the paper hoped it would soon get the data. Then the Supreme Court took the case.
The Food Marketing Institute, which declined interviews before Monday’s arguments, has said in court papers that the public already has access to a lot of data about SNAP. But SNAP sales data by store is confidential “much the same way how much business grocers do in cash, credit, debit, checks or even gift cards is confidential,” wrote Food Marketing Institute president and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin in a blog post last month.
To decide whether the information should be released, the Supreme Court will have to interpret the federal Freedom of Information Act .
It gives citizens, including reporters, access to federal agencies’ records with certain exceptions. In the Argus Leader’s case, the US Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, argued that disclosing the data the paper sought was barred by FOIA’s “exemption 4.” It tells the government to withhold “confidential” “commercial or financial information” obtained from third parties.
It will be up to the court to determine whether what the paper is seeking counts as “confidential.”
The Trump administration is backing the grocery stores in arguing against the information’s release. The Associated Press is among dozens of media organizations that have signed a legal brief supporting the Argus Leader.
Myers, the Argus Leader’s news director, said that in the years it has taken for the paper’s case to reach the Supreme Court, the paper has continued to do the kind of investigative reporting it was attempting to do in seeking the SNAP data.
In South Dakota, he said, “there are more stories and more malfeasance than one newsroom can root out, but we certainly try.”
The case is 18-481 Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media.