DUBAI: The media has a key role in overcoming the Arab world’s current challenges, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said at the Arab Media Forum on Wednesday.
“The media possesses the power of the word and utilizes this power to make a positive impact on the community. Good words will grow and prosper. The media must maintain high levels of integrity and professionalism,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
The Arab Media Forum sees regional media outlets gather to discuss obstacles and issues the industry is facing, notably the rise of fake news, and countering terrorism and hate rhetoric.
Several sessions revolved around the theme of trust in the media, such as “Countering Incitement,” “The Value of Trust in Today’s News Environment,” and “The Struggle Against Hate Speech.”
Tini Sevak, CNN’s vice president of audience and data, led the talk “The Value of Trust in Today’s News Environment.”
“There is a greater appetite for news. But you have to be on the ground to tell the story accurately,” she said. “Trust should be at the core of all media and news brands.”
In another session titled “The Future of News Agencies,” Agence France-Presse’s CEO Fabrice Fries highlighted the rise in different news sources in today’s social media-driven world, and the dangers it could cause.
“We live in a world of misinformation, but we still have the privilege of being a news agency, and the DNA of a news agency is verifying the information,” he said.
“With news advancements, we have lost our privilege of exclusivity and ubiquity, but we retain reliability.”
While the role of trust in the media was a dominant theme, other sessions tackled the industry’s relationship with politics.
“There is a crisis between media and politics in the modern world,” said political analyst and author Abdel Monem Said. “Many media figures have become politicians and vice versa, and this is similar to the impersonation of roles between the political and media fields.”
The analyst was speaking alongside Walid Phares, US President Donald Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, and Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, head of the editorial board at Al Arabiya.
Al-Rashed said that media should be unbiased and give a chance for all to voice their opinions and concerns. “For us in media we try to give all parties space for self-expression, and
this is the job of newsroom workers,” he said.
Other sessions at the Arab Media Forum included one on the future of print journalism.
“Print is not dead,” Annahar newspaper’s editor-in-chief Nayla Tueni said.
Tueni referred to the day Annahar printed blank pages in its print edition, in a protest to the recent political stalemate in Lebanon, in which it took six months to form a government.
“Everyone went and bought the paper, which was only white (pages),” she said. “Print is still relevant.”
Workshops are being held throughout the forum by media companies, including Facebook’s “Algorithm & Newsfeed, and how to engage the audience,” LinkedIn’s “Best Practices for Media Professionals,” and Arab News’ “The Art of Portrait.”
The forum runs until March 28.