Axel Springer to close Upday in shift towards AI-based news

Axel Springer owns top-selling German tabloids Bild and Welt, as well as US political news website Politico. (AFP/File)
Axel Springer owns top-selling German tabloids Bild and Welt, as well as US political news website Politico. (AFP/File)
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Updated 08 December 2023
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Axel Springer to close Upday in shift towards AI-based news

Axel Springer to close Upday in shift towards AI-based news
  • Upday to close at end of the year, relaunch expected for summer 2024
  • More than half of jobs to be eliminated, company said

BERLIN: Axel Springer is shutting down the news outlet Upday, the German publishing giant said on Friday, in plans to revive the brand as a “trend news generator” driven by artificial intelligence.

Upday will close by the end of the year in its current form, with the new service scheduled to launch in the summer of 2024.

A spokesperson said jobs at Upday are being eliminated during the transformation process, adding that the company would examine whether staff can continue to work elsewhere in the group.

Of a one-time workforce of 150, 70 staff members remain, the spokesperson said.

The aim of the transformation is to explore “the opportunities that (artificial intelligence) presents for journalism and the news industry”, the company said.

Upday has been pre-installed on Samsung cell phones and other devices under a deal between Axel Springer and the South Korean company in 2015. It expanded into 34 European countries.

Axel Springer owns top-selling German tabloids Bild and Welt, as well as US political news website Politico. The company plans to transition from print media to digital news.


Saudi media minister presents new media strategy, designates 2024 ‘Year of Media Transformation

Saudi media minister presents new media strategy, designates 2024 ‘Year of Media Transformation
Updated 20 February 2024
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Saudi media minister presents new media strategy, designates 2024 ‘Year of Media Transformation

Saudi media minister presents new media strategy, designates 2024 ‘Year of Media Transformation
  • Salman Al-Dosari spoke at the inaugural day of the Saudi Media Forum
  • New vision will boost sector efficiency, investment appeal and workforce abilities
  • In 2023 the media sector contributed $3.9 billion to Kingdom’s economy, created 56,000 jobs

LONDON: Saudi Media Minister Salman Al-Dosari has presented the Kingdom’s new media strategy, marking 2024 as the “Year of Media Transformation.”

Addressing the inaugural session of the Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh on Tuesday, Al-Dosari outlined the vision for the forthcoming year, celebrating the sector’s profound impact on the nation’s economy.

He underscored that in 2023 alone, the media industry contributed a substantial SR14.5 billion ($3.9 billion) to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product, and facilitated the creation of 56,000 job opportunities.

Looking ahead, Al-Dosari emphasized the government’s commitment to further growth and development, aiming to elevate the sector’s contribution to $4.3 billion in 2024.

This aspiration aligns with plans to expand the workforce to 67,000 jobs, recognizing the pivotal role of media in economic and societal progress.

Al-Dosari elaborated on the strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing the sector’s efficiency, boosting investment appeal, and strengthening national workforce capabilities, paving the way for the future of media.

These initiatives include a comprehensive media sector strategy, a Saudi Broadcasting Authority strategy to foster growth and competitiveness, and efforts to develop media talent to produce content that enhances Saudi Arabia’s global image.

In addition, Al-Dosari announced the launch of the Hajj MediaHub initiative, facilitating media coverage of the Hajj season through a dynamic media community and interactive media exhibition, benefiting over 2,000 international media professionals and visitors.

The third edition of the Saudi Media Forum, themed “Media in a World Taking Shape,” commenced on Tuesday, hosted by the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation and the Saudi Journalists Association.

With the participation of 2,000 media professionals, academics, experts, and specialists from both local and international arenas, the two-day event serves as a platform for robust discourse and collaboration within the industry, engaging with 80 media outlets.


Pro-Israel group targets Washington Post foreign correspondent

Pro-Israel group targets Washington Post foreign correspondent
Updated 19 February 2024
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Pro-Israel group targets Washington Post foreign correspondent

Pro-Israel group targets Washington Post foreign correspondent
  • Semafor said public relation group SKDK was reported working both publicly and behind the scenes to discredit journalists they perceive as biased against Israel
  • Louisa Loveluck has become a primary target for scrutiny, with SKDK compiling a detailed list of her coverage and tweets that they allege demonstrate bias

LONDON: US-based pro-Israeli group SKDK has been targeting Washington Post’s foreign correspondent Louisa Loveluck over her coverage of the Gaza conflict, news outlet Semafor reported on Sunday.

SKDK, a Washington DC public relations firm with close ties to the White House, is managing the communications of the 10/7 Project, an initiative established last year to advocate for continued US support for Israel and counter misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war.

In their critique of American news outlets’ reporting on the Gaza conflict, particularly the Washington Post, Semafor said SKDK had been working both publicly and behind the scenes to discredit specific journalists whom they perceive as biased against Israel, particularly those they believe are tweeting and reporting unfairly about the situation.

Loveluck, who has been covering the war in Gaza, emphasizing the plight of Palestinian civilians, has emerged as a primary target of the 10/7 Project.

The group sent Semafor a one-five page document detailing a list of Loveluck’s tweets and coverage on Gaza, accusing her of biased and mischaracterized reporting.

They also delved into her past as a college student in 2009, characterizing her online presence as that of a far-left activist, citing her negative opinions about pro-Israel American leaders, support for Al-Jazeera TV, and participation in the 2010 Cambridge University occupation protesting tuition fee hikes.

“For many years, Loveluck’s online presence was that of a far-left activist: she has voiced negative opinions about pro-Israel American leaders and Israeli leadership,” the group wrote in a memo.

The 10/7 Project presented tweets from 2011 where Loveluck expressed anger at former President George W. Bush’s memoir and criticized former President Barack Obama’s silence in Egypt’s post-Arab Spring elections.

SKDK also presented numerous tweets of her criticizing Israel and noted that only a few expressed sympathy toward the hostages or mentioned Hamas.

The group claimed that “Loveluck’s poorly reported articles did not meet Washington Post’s standards” and asserted their responsibility to spotlight unfair coverage, demanding unbiased, honest reporting from leading American media outlets.

In response, the Washington Post defended its reporting but did not specifically address Loveluck’s tweets.

The publication highlighted its consistent explanatory reporting on data sources for the Israel/Gaza conflict, citing examinations of the Gaza Health Ministry and explanations that it is an agency of Gaza’s elected government, run by Hamas.

“The Washington Post produces rigorous, in-depth journalism, and we expect and welcome scrutiny of our reporting,” a spokesperson said.

“When we make errors, we take every step to correct them and to provide full transparency to our readers. The Post expects our journalists to refrain from social media postings that could raise questions about our fairness or independence. We also prioritize the security of our employees, and we cannot condone any efforts that could endanger or jeopardize their safety.”


Bloomberg TV names Joumanna Bercetche as host of morning flagship show

Bloomberg TV names Joumanna Bercetche as host of morning flagship show
Updated 19 February 2024
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Bloomberg TV names Joumanna Bercetche as host of morning flagship show

Bloomberg TV names Joumanna Bercetche as host of morning flagship show
  • Former CNBC anchor to host ‘Daybreak: Middle East and Africa’
  • In 2021, Bercetche topped Arab News’ Media Power List as most prominent Arab international anchor 

LONDON: Bloomberg Television on Monday announced the appointment of Joumanna Bercetche as the new anchor of “Daybreak: Middle East and Africa,” Bloomberg’s flagship morning prime time show.

From April Bercetche will spearhead the delivery of global market insights, analysis and exclusive interviews, with a dedicated emphasis on the Middle East and Africa.

Julie Alnwick McHale, global head of Bloomberg Television, said that Bercetche would be “a brilliant addition” thanks to her experience in the business and finance sector.

“Her ability to make sense of the key stories driving the news agenda both across the region and globally will enhance our coverage and serve audiences across multiple platforms.”

Bercetche, a former CNBC anchor and journalist, made the transition to broadcasting after spending several years as a macro and fixed income specialist on the trading floor.

In her new role, Bercetche will conduct in-depth reporting on regional events, interview key policymakers, leaders and executives, and expand the network’s reach in the Middle East and Africa.

Bercetche said she was pleased to join Bloomberg’s “influential newsroom” during a “very exciting time for the region.”

She added: “This is a moment of fast-paced change and growth in the region with important business, financial, economic and energy stories shaping global dynamics and the decisions of business leaders.”

Alongside the announcement, Bloomberg said that Brad Hodson will take up a new role in Dubai as executive producer for “Daybreak: Middle East and Africa,” with responsibility for the flagship morning show and other major coverage in the region.


Saudi channel Al-Thaqafeyah to broadcast BAFTA film awards exclusively across MENA

Saudi channel Al-Thaqafeyah to broadcast BAFTA film awards exclusively across MENA
Updated 17 February 2024
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Saudi channel Al-Thaqafeyah to broadcast BAFTA film awards exclusively across MENA

Saudi channel Al-Thaqafeyah to broadcast BAFTA film awards exclusively across MENA
  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor will perform ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ two decades after its release

RIYADH: Al-Thaqafeyah, a Saudi cultural channel operated by MBC Group, has announced that it is the exclusive Middle East and North Africa broadcaster of this year’s BAFTA film awards.

Set to be broadcast live from London’s Royal Festival Hall on Sunday, Feb. 18, the ceremony promises a night of glamor, celebration and performances, showcasing “the best of British and global cinema.”

Hosted by the acclaimed actor David Tennant, the 2024 EE BAFTA Film Awards will celebrate exceptional achievements in film, performance and craftsmanship over the past year, highlighting the power of storytelling and creativity.

In a special highlight of the evening, British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor will take to the stage to perform the hit “Murder on the Dancefloor.” More than two decades after its release, the song has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in popularity, thanks in large part to the film “Saltburn.”

With the track becoming a viral sensation — inspiring countless TikTok videos and climbing international charts — Ellis-Bextor’s performance at the film awards marks a notable moment in the song’s legacy.

The event starts at 5:45 p.m. GMT, live from the red carpet, hosted by Clara Amfo and Alex Zane. The main awards show begins at 7 p.m. GMT.

Both events will be broadcast live on Al-Thaqafeyah via free-to-air television and online through Shahid, the Arabic streaming platform.


Report: Israel-Gaza war propels journalist killings to near-record high

Report: Israel-Gaza war propels journalist killings to near-record high
Updated 16 February 2024
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Report: Israel-Gaza war propels journalist killings to near-record high

Report: Israel-Gaza war propels journalist killings to near-record high
  • Three-quarters of the 99 media workers killed in 2023 lost their lives in the Israel-Gaza conflict, with the vast majority being Palestinians

LONDON: The Israel-Gaza war has led to a sharp increase in the number of journalists killed in 2023, with the majority of fatalities occurring in the conflict-ridden region, according to a report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday.

The CPJ documented 99 journalists and media workers killed last year, marking the highest number of deaths recorded by the organization since 2015.

Of these, 72 were Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, highlighting the unprecedented toll of the Israel-Gaza war on media personnel.

“Journalists in Gaza are bearing witness on the frontlines,” said CPJ CEO Jodie Ginsberg.

“The immense loss suffered by Palestinian journalists in this war will have long-term impacts for journalism not just in the Palestinian territories but for the region and beyond. Every journalist killed is a further blow to our understanding of the world.”

In December 2023, the CPJ reported that more journalists were killed in the first three months of the Israel-Gaza conflict than in any single country in an entire year.

Concerns were raised by various organizations regarding the apparent targeting of media members by the Israeli army, with investigations underway to determine if a dozen journalists killed during the conflict were deliberately targeted.

The Israeli army has long faced accusations of deliberately targeting journalists, leading to Israel being added to the CPJ’s list of the “worst jailers of journalists” for the first time in January.

While journalist deaths in Israel, Gaza, and Lebanon accounted for the majority of casualties, the CPJ highlighted ongoing dangers faced by media workers globally, particularly in the Philippines, Mexico, and Somalia.

Non-lethal attacks on journalists also persist, and record numbers of journalists continue to be imprisoned, indicating ongoing challenges to press freedom.

“The near-record high number of journalist killings in 2023 clearly indicates that we must work collectively to ensure that journalist killers are brought to justice, that a culture of safety prevails in newsrooms, and that the public’s right to be informed is protected from those whose power is threatened by the scrutiny of reporting,” added Ginsberg.