INTERVIEW: ‘Our newspaper is more than a vehicle to relay news — it’s a message,’ says Australia’s El-Telegraph Editor

Antoine Kazzi (L) is the editor-in-chief of El Telegraph, one of the longest-running and highest-circulation Arabic-language newspapers in Australia. (Supplied)
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Antoine Kazzi (L) is the editor-in-chief of El Telegraph, one of the longest-running and highest-circulation Arabic-language newspapers in Australia. (Supplied)
Antoine Kazzi (R) with future Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati. (Supplied)
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Antoine Kazzi (R) with future Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati. (Supplied)
Kazzi initially worked as a freelance journalist writing stories for a number of newspapers in Australia until landing a job at El Telegraph in 1991. (Supplied)
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Kazzi initially worked as a freelance journalist writing stories for a number of newspapers in Australia until landing a job at El Telegraph in 1991. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 February 2022

INTERVIEW: ‘Our newspaper is more than a vehicle to relay news — it’s a message,’ says Australia’s El-Telegraph Editor

Antoine Kazzi (L) is the editor-in-chief of El Telegraph, one of the longest-running and highest-circulation Arabic-language newspapers in Australia. (Supplied)
  • Antoine Kazzi, editor-in-chief of Australian, Arabic-language newspaper El Telegraph, tells Arab News why it continues to thrive despite challenges from social and digital media
  • ‘We have a very big following from the Arab diaspora that has trusted us and has been following us for 52 years … We rely on the readers first and then on advertisers,’ he said

LONDON: The rise and popularity of social media and alternative news platforms continues to threaten the very survival of traditional print journalism worldwide.

In English-speaking countries, newspapers published in foreign languages are even more vulnerable to the pressures facing the industry amid an ever-growing reliance on social media, given that they generally serve very specific — and usually smaller — audiences.

Antoine Kazzi is the editor-in-chief of El Telegraph, the longest-running and highest-circulation Arabic-language newspaper in Australia. He told Arab News how he went from being a teacher of Arabic literature in Lebanon to the top editorial job on one of Australia’s biggest newspapers.

“I was lucky when I arrived in Australia,” he said. “There were very few immigrants who were able to work in their chosen field but I was lucky because I harnessed my expertise and knowledge of the Arabic language and managed to bridge it with the journalism sector.”

Kazzi initially worked as a freelance journalist writing stories for a number of newspapers in Australia until landing a job at El Telegraph in 1991, a few years after he relocated from Lebanon.

To withstand the pressures created by the changing nature of the media and journalism, and more recently the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that El Telegraph has relied mainly on support from its readers and advertisers, and from the newspaper’s parent organization, Wehbe Group.

“As a newspaper, we have a very big following from the Arab diaspora that has trusted us and has been following us for 52 years,” Kazzi said.

“We did suffer, like many other newspapers, even English-language newspapers, but we remained strong due to our readership. We rely on the readers first and then on advertisers.”

Established in 1970, El Telegraph is one of the few Arabic news publications in Australia. It caters to readers from more than 19 distinct Arab communities in the country.

“Given the successive waves of displacement to Australia from Arab-minority countries, our newspaper launched a whole daily page dedicated to Iraq, one daily page for Syria, and another for Palestine,” said Kazzi. “We even ran a page on Kurdish news for a few months.”

He added that Australians of Middle Eastern origin, new arrivals from Arab countries and even Arabs in other parts of the world rely on the El Telegraph for domestic and international news and information relevant both to their daily lives and to their home countries.

“During the Lebanese war, we had people subscribe to El Telegraph newspaper from Brazil and Argentina to read news about Lebanon,” Kazzi said. “We used to wait for people arriving from Lebanon at the airports so we could get a Lebanese newspaper from them to obtain the news.”

Some observers continue to predict the eventual death of print journalism in the face of the challenge from social and digital media, but Kazzi does not agree.

“Today, the market for print newspapers will remain whether we like it or not,” he said. “There are still people who like the feel of newspapers and magazines in their hands and prefer reading newspapers over browsing the internet.”

Regardless of how its stories are consumed, El Telegraph’s reporting on events of particular relevance to the Arab world is a large part of its identity, as is the audience it caters to. Kazzi said that there are a number of differences between the ways in which English-language and Arabic-language newspapers report on certain events.

“An Arabic-language newspaper will definitely cover events in the Arab world differently than a non-Arab newspaper in Australia,” Kazzi he said.

“At the end of the day, we have Arab blood running through our veins. When there is bombing over Gaza, for instance, an Australian newspaper will treat the topic differently than how I would handle it; I would go to an Arab community that understands the worries and problems of Arabs and get additional information from them.”

The enduring popularity of El Telegraph is not only the result of quality journalism and the trust it has built among readers, he said, the newspaper also highlights the stories of significant figures from Australia’s Arabic communities, revealing their journeys and celebrating their work.

“We specialize in shedding light on thinkers and creatives in the Arab diaspora in Australia,” said Kazzi.

“El Telegraph became a source for these figures to publish their new ideas, stories, art, and cultivated these relationships by archiving their work and following up with their latest developments.”

“Our newspaper is more than a vehicle to relay news — it’s a message.”


Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum

Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum
Updated 17 August 2022

Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum

Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum
  • The airline’s CEO stated that the its sponsorship is in line with its vision to support all efforts promoting Jordan

AMMAN: Royal Jordanian Airlines is sponsoring the inaugural City Talk, a forum for Arab influencers due to take place in Jordan in early October, the Jordan News Agency reported on Tuesday. The airline said that it will also serve as official carrier for the forum’s guests from across the region.

The event is being organized by the Jordan Tourism Board and Omnes Media, a digital-media and communications platform based in Dubai.

Royal Jordanian CEO Samer Majali said the airline’s sponsorship of the event reflects its vision and desire to support all initiatives and events that promote Jordan.

He added that by attracting social media content creators and marketing industry professionals from across the Arab world, the forum will help to market the culture and heritage of Jordan and its tourism sector.

City Talk is scheduled to take place Oct. 2-5 at King Hussein bin Talal Convention Center near Sweimeh, on the Dead Sea shore. More than 500 Arab social media influencers and industry leaders are expected to attend.

The forum will explore and discuss recent advances in the marketing and advertising industry. The schedule includes six panel discussions and six workshops, along with daily meetings with influential Arab figures.


Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt

Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt
Updated 16 August 2022

Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt

Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt
  • The streamer will work with Sard, a regional hub for scriptwriters, to help local women develop their creative writing and storytelling skills
  • Netflix wants to create ‘more diverse content to ensure that women are represented both on screen and behind the camera,’ said Ahmed Sharkawi, its director of Arabic series

DUBAI: Netflix has partnered with Sard, a dedicated hub for scriptwriters in the Arab world, to coach women in creative writing and help them to develop their storytelling and creative-expression skills through the latest in a series of Because She Created programs.

It is the latest development in an initiative launched last year as a virtual panel discussion to give female Arab filmmakers a chance to talk about the evolving role of women in the regional film industry. Netflix then teamed up with the Cairo International Film Festival for a second Because She Created event, which was a fireside chat with renowned Tunisian actress Hend Sabry.

In July this year, the company used the platform to present a specially curated collection of 21 Arab films designed to shine a light on the work of Arab women in film. 

The writing program, which will take place in Cairo, is designed to provide an incubator for the untapped talents of 20 women from outside of the city and introduce them to the creative tools and industry insight they need to advance their creative and professional development.

“Sard believes that expressing oneself through writing is the first step to self-discovery and we’re proud to have discovered talent through this program that we feel will one day become the scriptwriters of the future,” said Mariam Naoum, the founder and CEO of Sard.

Although Egypt and the wider Arab world is “ripe with talent,” the region needs a “concerted effort and professional support” to help that local talent grow, she added.

“Women in the region, in particular, need this kind of incubation and technical support to gain access to opportunities that advance their professional growth in an industry where their presence is still limited,” said Naoum.

“Sard is trying to achieve this through the work we do and through partnerships with organizations like Netflix that help steer talent in the right direction.”

The five-day program will include storytelling classes, sessions on creative expression, and discussions and talks led by established professionals in the entertainment industry. It will also feature daily activities, including trips to the theater and cinema.

“At Netflix, we recognize that being part of the creative communities comes with responsibilities and that includes the need to develop the talent pipeline and give new voices a chance to be heard,” said Ahmed Sharkawi, director of Arabic series at the streaming service.

The company wants to create “more diverse content to ensure that women are represented both on screen and behind the camera,” he added, and “partnerships like this allow us to equip them with the skills they need to tell the best version of their stories.”

The Because She Created writing program is an initiative of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which aims to create new opportunities for underrepresented communities within the entertainment industry through training and skills development.


Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies
Updated 16 August 2022

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies
  • The court accused Twitch, a U.S.-based live-streaming service popular with video gamers, of failing to remove a 31-second clip of a girl from Bucha

LONDON: A court in Russia has fined streaming service Twitch 2 million roubles ($33,000) for hosting a short video containing what it calls “fake” information about alleged war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to fine sites — including Google, Twitter and Wikipedia — it accuses of hosting “fake” content related to its military campaign in Ukraine.
The court accused Twitch, a US-based live-streaming service popular with video gamers, of failing to remove a 31-second clip of a girl from the town of Bucha, the Kommersant newspaper reported. It did not specify the content of the video.
Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ukraine and its allies accuse Russian forces of committing atrocities in Bucha, a satellite town of Kyiv, after Moscow launched its invasion in February. Russia denies the charge.
Earlier, RIA reported that Telegram messenger was hit with two fines totalling 11 million roubles ($179,000) for refusing to delete channels which allegedly showed how to “sabotage” military vehicles and hosting “unreliable data” about Russia’s progress in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.


Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive's documents

Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive's documents
Updated 16 August 2022

Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive's documents

Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive's documents
  • Kayvon Beykpour is considered one of the executives “most intimately involved with” determining the amount of spam accounts, which have become a central issue in the legal fight

LONDON: Twitter Inc needs to give Elon Musk documents from a former Twitter executive who Musk said was a key figure in calculating the amount of fake accounts on the platform, according to a Monday court order.

Bot and spam accounts on Twitter have become a central issue in the legal fight over whether Musk, who is Tesla Inc's chief executive, must complete his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company.

Twitter was ordered to collect, review and produce documents from former General Manager of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour, according to the order from Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Twitter and lawyers for Musk, the world's richest person, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Beykpour, who left Twitter after the social media company agreed in April to be acquired by Musk, was described in Musk's court filings as one of the executives “most intimately involved with” determining the amount of spam accounts.

Beykpour did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent through LinkedIn.

McCormick said in her order on Monday that she was denying Musk's request for access to 21 other people with control over relevant information.

Musk's legal team had written to McCormick last week asking her to order Twitter to hand over employee names so they could be questioned. read more

Musk accused Twitter earlier this month of fraud for misrepresenting the number of real active users on its platform, which Twitter has denied. The company has accused him of breaching his agreement to acquire the company and wants McCormick to order him to complete the deal at $54.20 a share.


OSN+ to stage 1,000-drone airborne light show in celebration of ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere

OSN+ to stage 1,000-drone airborne light show in celebration of ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere
Updated 15 August 2022

OSN+ to stage 1,000-drone airborne light show in celebration of ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere

OSN+ to stage 1,000-drone airborne light show in celebration of ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere
  • As well as the display over Riyadh Boulevard as part of Gamers8, the streaming service announced a screen takeover and fireworks display to herald debut of ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel

DUBAI: Middle East streaming platform OSN+ is celebrating the upcoming premiere of new HBO series “House of the Dragon,” a prequel to the international hit “Game of Thrones,” by staging an immersive drone show at Riyadh Boulevard on Aug. 18, as part of the ongoing Gamers8 festival.

In addition to the airborne light show, featuring 1,000 drones, the special celebration will include a complete screen takeover at Gamers8 and a fireworks display.

“OSN+ is excited to launch a spectacular drone show, as part of the Gamers8 festival, ahead of the highly anticipated release of ‘House of the Dragon’ on Aug. 22 in the Middle East,” said Ashley Rite, vice-president of marketing and growth with the streamer.

“Alongside an expansive screen takeover and firework display, the gaming festival will provide an engaging and immersive platform to celebrate the premiere of the first episode of the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel with fans, both within the Saudi Arabian capital and across the Kingdom.”

The first season of the 10-episode HBO Original drama will air exclusively in the region on OSN+ from Aug. 22, with the first episode available at the same time as its US premiere and subsequent episodes released weekly.