Arab News at 44: The Saudi newspaper aiming for gender-balanced newsroom

Last year Arab News outlined its aim to become the first newspaper in Saudi Arabia to have a gender-balanced newsroom. (AN Photo)
Updated 20 April 2019

Arab News at 44: The Saudi newspaper aiming for gender-balanced newsroom

  • The proportion of women working for the newspaper rose to more than a third in 2018
  • The initiative reflects an aim of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms to empower women in all fields

JEDDAH: Arab News has big plans to recruit more female staff.

Last year the newspaper 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 proportion of women working for the newspaper rose to more than a third in 2018, moving closer to the goal of a 50:50 gender-balanced newsroom by 2020, according to the Arab News “gender equality meter,” published in March. 

The initiative reflects an aim of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms to empower women in all fields, elevate their status and include more of them in the workforce, to enable them to contribute to the national economy.

Within a span of just two years, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom has undergone massive changes that have enriched the lives of women.

Major events for women in the past two years have included the lifting of the driving ban on June 24, 2018, and women visiting sports stadiums and watching their favorite local soccer teams. The first match that women saw was the one between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin on January 12, 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s military began accepting applications from women in March 2018, women were appointed as members of the board of trustees of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue in February 2018, and in that same month women were able to start their own businesses without a male guardian’s permission. The Oxford Aviation Academy in Dammam started accepting applications from women in March 2018, with the first batch of female students beginning their foundation program at the academy on September 2, 2018.

History was made in February this year when Princess Reema bint Bandar became the first Saudi female envoy to the US.

She took the oath of loyalty before King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, to become Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador, and she was sworn in as Saudi ambassador to the US on Tuesday, April 16.


CEO buying struggling New Zealand media company for $1

Updated 20 sec ago

CEO buying struggling New Zealand media company for $1

  • The organization Stuff prints many of the nation’s daily newspapers

WELLINGTON: One of New Zealand’s largest media organizations is being sold for a single dollar to its CEO, the owners announced Monday.

The organization Stuff prints many of the nation’s daily newspapers and runs a popular news website of the same name. It employs about 900 staff, including 400 journalists.

Owned by Australia’s Nine Entertainment, Stuff faced financial challenges before the coronavirus pandemic struck and has since seen advertising revenues plunge.

In a statement to the Australian stock market, Nine said Stuff would be sold to CEO Sinead Boucher in a management buyout deal that will be completed by the end of the month.

“We have always said that we believe it is important for Stuff to have local ownership and it is our firm view that this is the best outcome for competition and consumers in New Zealand,” said Hugh Marks, the CEO of Nine.

Boucher said she’s been “blown away” by the positive feedback she’s been receiving about the purchase.

“I feel really happy, relieved and proud. It’s been a really intense couple of weeks getting to the finish line,” she said.

Boucher, 49, began her career as a reporter for The Press newspaper in Christchurch and later helped lead some of the company’s digital innovations.

She said she has no immediate plans for any staff reductions or newspaper closures, although added the ownership change isn’t a silver bullet to cure the issues that Stuff and other media companies are facing.

Boucher said she would look to increase revenues from online readers. Stuff last month set up an option for readers to donate money.

Boucher said she is purchasing Stuff through a limited liability company and is working through the details of a plan to transition the ownership by giving staff a direct stake as shareholders in the company.

The deal brings to an end the efforts of rival media company NZME to buy Stuff.

Discussions between the two companies turned acrimonious and ended up in the hands of lawyers. The High Court last week declined an interim injunction sought by NZME that could have delayed the sale to Boucher.

Nine said that as part of the deal, it will retain ownership of a printing plant in Wellington and lease it back to Stuff. It will also get some of the profits from the recent sale of company offshoot Stuff Fibre, an Internet provider.

Most New Zealand media companies have been struggling since the pandemic struck. Stuff has temporarily cut employee’s pay while NZME has announced plans to cut 200 jobs.