Rewriting the future: Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas on Arab News’ new leaf

Updated 20 April 2018
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Rewriting the future: Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas on Arab News’ new leaf

  • As a journalist, I don’t think there is any place more interesting in the region than Saudi Arabia: Arab News Editor in Chief
  • Arab News will move away from being seen merely as a 'newspaper' to a whole array of new offerings

On April 1, a tweet went out from the Arab News account: “Arab News — as you know it — will no longer exist! #AprilFoolsDay #WhatChanged.” 

The message was a teaser building up to the  relaunch of the English-language daily following a comprehensive overhaul, described by Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas as “The biggest shake-up the paper has had throughout its 43-year history.”

On April 4, the relaunch issue hit the newsstands, with changes also reflected across the digital editions. While the new look and feel of the paper represent a bold departure, many of the shifts have materialized over the past year. In a wide-ranging interview with Communicate magazine, Abbas described the evolution of Arab News since he took the reins in September 2016. 

“We went back to our roots and took the paper back from being a local news outlet to its original positioning as the English voice of the region,” he told the magazine. 

To achieve this, Arab News, which is owned by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), has opened bureaus in London, Dubai and Pakistan and has hired some of the best industry talent, made significant changes to its workflow structure and rewritten its editorial policy.

The changes are all part of a future plan entitled Arab News 2020 to coincide with the paper’s 45th anniversary that year. Key to this is a “digital-first” philosophy which is incorporating more video and social media to serve the title’s expanding demographic in the online sphere, though with print revenues at 90 percent, it won’t be killing its print editions any time soon.  

Instead, the focus is on expansion. “We are moving away from being recognized as merely a “newspaper” to a whole array of digital offerings, events and tailored products,” Abbas said. Examples include the Arab News partnership with YouGov, producing material that “quickly became a reference for the region,” on major events, including polls on lifting the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia and a 2017 survey on British attitudes toward the Arab world — cited in the UK Parliament. 

The paper’s metamorphosis coincides neatly with the transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia as the country embraces an ambitious reform program as part of the Vision 2030 which, among other things, is redefining the local media industry. “As a journalist, I don’t think there is any place more interesting in the region than Saudi Arabia,” Abbas said. “We are very lucky to be at the heart of (the) change.” 


Pope Francis issues new warning against fake news

Updated 18 May 2019
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Pope Francis issues new warning against fake news

  • Journalists must be very careful of their choice of words in an era of “hostile language” proliferating everywhere, pope says
  • He also asked the press to speak of those "forgotten by society", such as the Rohingyas of Myanmar and the Yazidis of Iraq
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Saturday urged journalists to desist from publishing fake news, saying it could cause harm, and instead “take time to understand” issues before reporting on them.
Receiving foreign journalists in the Vatican, the pontiff also urged journalists to remain “humble” saying humility “prevents the rotten flow of disinformation and offers the good bread of truth.”
Pope Francis said humility was of great importance as it implies consciousness “that through an article, a tweet, a live broadcast either televised or on radio can do good, but also if one is not attentive and scrupulous, harm.”
He also said journalists must be very careful of their choice of words in an era of “hostile language” proliferating everywhere, especially on social media.
“Everyone knows how the search for truth is difficult and demands humility,” he said.
He also asked the press to speak of “wars forgotten by society.
“Who still talks of the Rohingyas?” he said. “Who still speaks of the Yazidis? They are forgotten and they continue to suffer.”
About 740,000 Muslim minority Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since a brutal military crackdown began in August 2017.
Thousands of refugees attempt to flee the Bangladeshi camps each year in pursuit of better opportunities in countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.
They frequently spend their life savings to embark on dangerous boat journeys they believe will improve their lives, but many fall prey to international human trafficking gangs.
The Yazidi community once numbered around 500,000 members in the mountainous Sinjar region of northwest Iraq, but it was ravaged by the Daesh’s 2014 sweep into the area.
Jihadists killed Yazidi men, forced boys to join their ranks as fighters and abducted and imprisoned thousands of Yazidi women as sex slaves.