Arab female journalists face up to industry challenges at Riyadh seminar

Some of the participants at the seminar in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Updated 28 November 2019

Arab female journalists face up to industry challenges at Riyadh seminar

  • New reporters should be trained for a full year before starting work to give them a better understanding of the job, Jordanian participant suggests
  • One issue raised was the reluctance of employers to hire journalists who have young children 

RIYADH: Ways of overcoming some of the challenges and prejudices faced by female Arab journalists topped the agenda at a Saudi conference on Wednesday.

Women writers from throughout the Middle East and North Africa region gathered at the headquarters of the Saudi Press Agency in Riyadh for the third session of the Arab Female Journalists seminar.

 Shoura Council member and honorary guest, Nora Al-Shaaban, joined delegates in hailing the increased presence of women in the media sector, but said: “Female journalists have ambitions and it’s their right to achieve them.”

Yemeni journalist Ahlam Abdul Raqeeb participated in a panel — moderated by secretary-general of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), Dr. Fareed Ayar — which looked at the professional obstacles that Arab women journalists were sometimes confronted with and how to address them.

Conference delegates were told that Abdul Raqeeb was arrested in Yemen for six days because of her work and was constantly threatened. She escaped her home country with her children after contacting Saudi authorities a few years ago.

In Sudan, more women were being hired into leading roles, said Saeeda Hamat, a Sudanese journalist with the Sudan News Agency.

“Sudanese women hold executive positions in ministries as deputy ministerial advisers, and with the December revolution in Sudan, we now have female ministers. We are progressing. We do not have any obstacles in front of us. Do not cry over spilled milk and stop looking to the past but toward the future,” she told the gathering.

Samiya Al-Saayda from the Jordan News Agency (Petra) suggested that new reporters should be trained for a full year before starting work in order to give them a better understanding of the job. “You wouldn’t let a doctor perform surgery without training and the same goes with ethical journalism.”

Mothers in newsrooms was another issue raised in the same session, with employers often reluctant to hire them.

 


Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence

Updated 20 January 2020

Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence

  • Sundar Pichai’s comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used
  • Pichai’s comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology

LONDON: Google’s chief executive called Monday for a balanced approach to regulating artificial intelligence, telling a European audience that the technology brings benefits but also “negative consequences.”

Sundar Pichai’s comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. The question is how best to approach this,” Pichai said, according to a transcript of his speech at a Brussel-based think tank.

He noted that there’s an important role for governments to play and that as the European Union and the US start drawing up their own approaches to regulation, “international alignment” of any eventual rules will be critical. He did not provide specific proposals.

Pichai spoke on the same day he was scheduled to meet the EU’s powerful competition regulator, Margrethe Vestager.

Vestager has in previous years hit the Silicon Valley giant with multibillion-dollar fines for allegedly abusing its market dominance to choke off competition. After being reappointed for a second term last autumn with expanded powers over digital technology policies, Vestager has now set her sights on artificial intelligence, and is drawing up rules on its ethical use.

Pichai’s comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology. Vestager and the EU have been the among the more aggressive regulators of big tech firms, an approach US authorities have picked up with investigations into the dominance of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities,” he said, adding that it could incorporate existing standards like Europe’s tough General Data Protection Regulation rather than starting from scratch.

While it promises big benefits, he raised concerns about potential downsides of artificial intelligence, citing as one example its role in facial recognition technology, which can be used to find missing people but also for “nefarious reasons” which he didn’t specify.

In 2018, Google pledged not to use AI in applications related to weapons, surveillance that violates international norms, or that works in ways that go against human rights.