Arab News boosts female staff in drive to become first Saudi ‘gender-balanced’ newspaper

Arab News' Jeddah bureau. The newspaper aims to have a 50:50 gender-balanced newsroom by 2020. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 08 March 2019

Arab News boosts female staff in drive to become first Saudi ‘gender-balanced’ newspaper

RIYADH: The proportion of women working for Arab News rose to more than a third in 2018, moving closer toward the Riyadh-based newspaper’s target to have a 50:50 gender-balanced newsroom by 2020.
The ratio of women working across the global operations — including editorial staff in the Saudi, London and Dubai bureaus, regular Opinion writers and foreign correspondents — stood at 35 percent at the end of 2018.
That compares to 31 percent in 2017 and just 13 percent the previous year, according to Arab News’ “Gender equality meter,” published today.
Arab News last year outlined its aim to become the first newspaper in Saudi Arabia to have a gender-balanced newsroom. The drive — referred to internally as the “50:50 by 2020” initiative — covers all the newspaper’s bureaus and areas of operation.

The increase in the proportion of female staff last year was the result of active recruitment, increased training initiatives, and steps to provide career guidance with the help of the newspaper’s publisher, the Saudi Research and Marketing Group.
Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News, said the newspaper’s “50:50 by 2020” initiative reflected the wider reform drive in Saudi Arabia, part of which is to encourage more women into work.
“Having a diverse newsroom is not about ticking boxes — it is about giving equal opportunities to skilled journalists based in Saudi Arabia and beyond, while also providing training and nurturing young talent within the Kingdom,” said Abbas.
“It is also about serving our community better by doing what we do best — quality, insightful and inclusive journalism.”
“Our ‘50:50 by 2020’ initiative is in line with the positive steps in Saudi Arabia toward giving opportunities to everyone in society, especially the burgeoning youth population.”
Further announcements regarding the progress of the “50:50 by 2020” initiative will be made in the future, along with updates to the Arab News “Gender equality meter.”


Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

Updated 21 November 2019

Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

  • The Internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, to lie

SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will stop giving advertisers the ability to target election ads using data such as public voter records and general political affiliations, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The move comes at a time when social media platforms are under pressure over their handling of political advertising ahead of the US presidential election in 2020.
Google said it would limit audience targeting for election ads to age, gender and general location at a postal code level. Political advertisers also can still contextually target, such as serving ads to people reading about a certain topic.
Previously, verified political advertisers could also target ads using data gleaned from users’ behavior, such as search actions, that categorized them as left-leaning, right-leaning or independent. They could also upload data such as voter file lists to target ads to a lookalike audience which exhibited similar behaviors to those in the data.
Google will enforce the new approach in the United Kingdom within a week, ahead of the country’s general election on Dec. 12. It said it would enforce it in the European Union by the end of the year and in the rest of the world starting on Jan. 6, 2020.
“Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms,” Scott Spencer, vice president of product management for Google Ads, said in the blog post.
Google is the top seller of online ads in the United States, but smaller rivals with fewer targeting restrictions may now attract more business from campaigns, one political ad buyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Google added examples to its misrepresentation policy to show that it would not allow false claims about election results or the eligibility of political candidates based on age or birthplace.
Last month, Google refused to remove an ad run by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign on its YouTube video-streaming service that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s campaign said contained false claims, because it did not violate the policy.
A Google spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday that the video would still be allowed under the latest policy.
Social media giant Facebook Inc. has been criticized by lawmakers and regulators over its decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians on its platform, while Twitter has decided to ban political ads.
Google also clarified that its policies for political and nonpolitical ads prohibit doctored and manipulated media.
On Dec. 3, the company will expand its ad transparency efforts to ads related to state-level elections, including them in an online database created to catalog political advertising.