Saudi Media Forum platforms journalism’s essential role in times of crisis

Saudi Media Forum platforms journalism’s essential role in times of crisis
1 / 2
Seasoned industry experts took the stage to discuss the role of the media during global crises during the third Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh. (AN Photo: Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)
Saudi Media Forum platforms journalism’s essential role in times of crisis
2 / 2
Seasoned industry experts took the stage to discuss the role of the media during global crises during the third Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh. (AN Photo: Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)
Short Url
Updated 21 February 2024
Follow

Saudi Media Forum platforms journalism’s essential role in times of crisis

Saudi Media Forum platforms journalism’s essential role in times of crisis
  • Proliferation of fake news means journalists needed more than ever, says Arab News’ Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas
  • Former US intelligence officer points to ‘an agenda’ by some publications in the West to vilify Middle East nations

RIYADH: “The first casualty of war is the truth,” the old quote states, and even with the global digitization of conventional media, it still stands true to this day.

At the start of the third annual Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh on Tuesday, seasoned industry experts took the stage to discuss the role of the media during global crises.

Arab News’ Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas referenced the famous words to emphasize the contradiction currently happening with the rise of fake or misleading news in the age of AI and rapid technological advancements. He joined British journalist Con Coughlin and former US intelligence analyst Norman T. Roule in a panel discussion titled “Media in Times of Crisis … Role and Mutual Influence.”

“We essentially made it a lot easier and quicker to spread, so if anything, media journalism couldn’t be any more important or in demand than it is today. We’ve seen it in Gaza, we’ve seen it during the pandemic, we’ve seen it in the Ukraine, and we’ll continue to see it,” Abbas said during the discussion.




Arab News’ Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas emphasized the contradiction currently happening with the rise of fake news in the age of AI. (AN Photo: Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

Initiatives including Saudipedia, a digital encyclopedia platform launched at the SMF’s accompanying FOMEX exhibition, aims to be the first source of Saudi Arabia’s narrative to the world, to counter misinformation.

While AI is still at a tricky unregulated phase, specialists in various industries have recognized its value in treading toward the future. In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence has made significant strides on this front including the inauguration of a center dedicated to the technology and the launch of an Arabic AI app.

The tool is especially essential to the media industry.

Abbas added: “People like to pin things on journalism and journalists, but without modern day tools, it’s really like going to war in the 21st century on a horse with a sword while your opponent is using drones.”

Roule chimed in by emphasizing the importance of authentic sources. As a former US official, he provided insight into how some publications in the West were targeting Middle Eastern countries. The most recent case that sparked controversy was an opinion piece written by former tennis stars Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, published in the Washington Post, that urged the Women’s Tennis Association to stay out of Saudi Arabia due to the country’s alleged oppression of women.

“It’s absolutely an agenda,” he said. “You have publications that produce only opinion and they shape facts and put it into that and mask it as analysis. The crime is that these sometimes are very bold and respected institutions, and (because of that), people listen to them routinely and parrot what they say.”

This also proves true for the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza by Israeli forces. Part of the propaganda was influenced by the rise of AI-generated photographs and videos that have quickly spread among internet users.

While many have lost trust and faith in the media, it remains crucial for organizations to prioritize getting the facts right over ensuring news gets out quickly.

As a columnist for The Telegraph and Al Majalla newspaper, Coughlin believes it is important to only start forming opinions once the facts are fully revealed, giving the Russia-Ukraine war as a contemporary example.




Seasoned industry experts took the stage to discuss the role of the media during global crises during the third Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh. (AN Photo: Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

Coughlin explained: “With social media and the ability to manipulate news, let’s not forget that in modern warfare, cyber warfare is just as important today as having a tank or fighter jets. Winning the propaganda war in the early skirmishes is just as important as what’s happening on ground.

“What’s really important when you’re talking about media is to have a plurality of media. When you’re limited to just one or two outlets, the general public won’t get the full picture … but what’s really important is that those opinions are based on facts.”

In crisis, governments are required to simultaneously “hurry up and slow down,” Roule said. While policy makers are challenged to both restrain from speaking out prematurely while also saying enough for the story to develop, journalists have a similar responsibility to shape stories in an ethical manner.

Abbas said: “There’s always a margin where you can get it wrong, either you’ve been misinformed or conned. First, you need to approach it from a humble point of view … the difference between a professional and a nonprofessional is a professional will correct immediately when they’re wrong. Somebody who’s not might try to sweep it under the carpet or speak louder and try to spin it. We owe it to our readers to be as transparent as we can be.”


Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes
Updated 27 May 2024
Follow

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes
  • Magazine faced backlash on social media for appeared attempt to censor pro-Palestinian solidarity

LONDON: Vanity Fair France was forced to issue an apology for digitally removing a Palestinian pin worn by actor Guy Pearce at the Cannes Film Festival.

On May 21, Vanity Fair published an article featuring several photographs of celebrities attending the festival. Among these was a portrait of Pearce wearing a black Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo.

Social media users quickly noticed that a pin of the Palestinian flag seen on his left lapel in other images had been removed.

Journalist Ahmed Hathout was one of the first to highlight the alteration, tweeting: “So Guy Pearce showed solidarity with Palestine at Cannes by wearing a pin and Vanity Fair decided to photoshop it out. Little did they know the bracelet was also of the Palestinian flag colors.”

The French subsidiary of the American magazine faced significant backlash on social media for what appeared to be an attempt to censor pro-Palestinian solidarity.

One user, @DarkSkyLady, tweeted: “Can we finally admit many of these outlets are propaganda-mouthpieces for colonialism and white supremacy?”

Another user, @Joey_Oey89, commented: “Reminder to unfollow and mute Vanity Fair. They smear celebs who take a stand against genocide and have made their stance clear.”

Responding to the criticism, Vanity Fair France posted an apology under Hathout’s tweet: “Good evening. We mistakenly published a modified version of this photo on the website. The original version was published on Instagram on the same day. We have rectified our error and apologize.”

The article on the magazine’s website now displays the unaltered image.

Pearce was among many celebrities at the prestigious festival who expressed solidarity with Palestine amid Israel’s brutal assault and seige on Gaza.

Other notable figures included actors Cate Blanchett and Pascale Kann, supermodel Bella Hadid, Indian actress Kani Kusrut, French actress Leila Bekhti, and Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir.
 


Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
Updated 27 May 2024
Follow

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
  • The Atlantic’s writer Graeme Wood suggested that in certain scenarios killing of children can be legally justifiable
  • Campaign group condemned the piece, calling the The Atlantic’s stance on the issue ‘egregious’

LONDON: The Atlantic has ignited a wave of online criticism after publishing an article arguing that “it is possible to kill children legally” in Gaza.

Titled “The UN’s Gaza Statistics Make No Sense,” the opinion piece by staff writer Graeme Wood questioned the accuracy of the UN’s civilian death toll numbers from the Israeli war on Gaza.

Wood suggested that the UN’s statistics were unreliable, claiming they are sourced from Hamas.

“The UN numbers changed because the UN has little idea how many children have been killed in Gaza, beyond ‘a lot.’ It gets its statistics from Hamas,” the piece read.

Wood, known for his skeptical stance toward Hamas and Palestine since the conflict erupted last October, controversially suggested that in certain scenarios, the killing of children can be legally justifiable.

Despite acknowledging that “even when conducted legally, war is ugly,” Wood argued, “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them. But the sight of a legally killed child is no less disturbing than the sight of a murdered one,” he wrote.

The article sparked a significant online backlash, with the campaign group Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG) condemning The Atlantic for the article.

“Eight months into the genocide and western media is still manufacturing consent for Zionism,” the group wrote in a post on X on Sunday.

“Defending child murder is egregious; but @TheAtlantic has historically defended imperial bloodshed,” WAWOG added.

Users took to social media to express their frustration over the article, with some questioning the legality of Wood’s claim and calling his choice of words “disgusting.”

“‘A legally killed child’ is a phrase I never imagined I would read in my lifetime,” wrote Lebanese political activist and musician Peter Daou on X.

Others have also called for canceling their subscriptions to The Atlantic.

The backlash comes as Israeli airstrikes killed at least 45 people on Sunday, hitting tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, with reports that people were “burning alive.”

These attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, described by the UNRWA as “horrifying.”

According to Gaza’s health ministry, the death toll in Gaza has neared 36,000 people, with the vast majority being children and women.


Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
Updated 27 May 2024
Follow

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
  • Youth ‘can craft a better future for us all,’ says Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
  • Praises Gulf leaders ‘who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election’

DUBAI: Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs, delivered a sharply defined message to Arab youth and their custodians.

In a speech at the Arab Media Summit, Al-Khalifa echoed the words of former US President John F. Kennedy, saying: “For a better world and a prosperous country, one must ask themselves what I can do for my country rather than what can my country do for me.

“The youth, which make up over 60 percent of our citizens today, is very different than previous generations. They have become the driving force behind certain industries and have taken to adopting certain causes that will craft a better future for us all.

“They are engaged in political and civil societies more than ever before throughout history. They have even managed to become successful in sectors such as journalism, social media in forms of content, podcasts and also showing sharp wit in investments and trade.”

Al-Khalifa, who served in a military academy, said he carries the academy’s message of “in order to serve, you must lead” throughout his life and policies.

 “While challenges can occur, as it did during the COVID pandemic, which affected not only economies but personal lives as well, it was a lesson to be learned. We came out of it, and we are at a better place now.

“Challenges are opportunities. Some folk lost a lot during the pandemic, while others progressed, and the difference between the two is that one seized the opportunity to create and further themselves. while others remained still.”

On the subject of open borders and one being a “global citizen,” Al-Khalifa urged the youth and their elders to continue to strive, travel, experience and learn, but to maintain a “moral direction that connects and centers you to who you are: an Arab.”

He added: “We are an Arab ummah, and what does that mean? It is a legacy, it is victories, accomplishments, values that we have carried and learned from our forefathers that we continue to build on today. To take on Western concepts such as ‘global citizen,’ one can be lost. Our identity is Arab first and foremost.

“Our religion, Islam, urged us to read, learn and engage. And that is what we do with other countries as we both compete and cooperate with them.

“Know who you are and where your roots lie. Some societies have become fragmented due to their abandonment of their values. Nowadays, we have Westerners who are enrolling their children in our schools to keep them centered and away from social and moral confusion.

“While it is valid and important to ride the new wave in terms of technology and progress of open borders to make our countries better, I urge fathers and mothers to continue to stress on an upbringing that focuses identity and positive moral values.

“We want to invest in our youth. It is important that they feel seen, valued, trusted and supported and wanted. If we do that, then their stock will never plummet. They are half of our present and all of our future.”

He concluded his speech by saying how blessed the Gulf is to have leaders “who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election,” and offered a prayer to the lives lost in Gaza.


Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth
Updated 27 May 2024
Follow

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

DUBAI: The annual Arab Media Forum launched in Dubai on Monday for a three-day summit involving media leaders and executives from across the region.

This year’s forum is geared toward youth, focusing on arming the next generation of journalists and media professionals with the tools and know-how to thrive in the ever-growing industry in the Arab world.

For the past two decades, the forum has brought together regional and international speakers to discuss the industry’s challenges and impact on Arab societies.

More than 1,000 creative and media students are expected to attend, along with prominent Arab personalities, content creators and global media industry leaders taking part in a range of panel discussions and master classes.

Notable speakers include Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the king’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs in Bahrain; and Dr. Sultan Al-Neyadi, the UAE’s minister of state for youth affairs.

Monday’s schedule includes master classes on Meta, tools for storytelling, interactive media, as well as building personal brands.

Panels and discussions on the opening day cover sports media, the art of directing and redefining storytelling.

Tuesday and Wednesday will feature discussions on key political, economic and technological developments by media personalities, editors in chief, writers and experts from the region and around the world.

The forum will close with an awards ceremony recognizing content creators and journalists in a range of categories.


Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study
Updated 27 May 2024
Follow

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study
  • One in eight of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video
  • Grim trend on the rise with US worst offender, University of Edinburgh’s researchers says

LONDON: More than 300 million children a year are victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse, according to the first global estimate of the scale of the problem published on Monday.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that one in eight of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video in the past 12 months.
That amounts to about 302 million young people, said the university’s Childlight Global Child Safety Institute, which carried out the study.
There have been a similar number of cases of solicitation, such as unwanted sexting and requests for sexual acts by adults and other youths, according to the report.
Offences range from so-called sextortion, where predators demand money from victims to keep images private, to the abuse of AI technology to create deepfake videos and pictures.
The problem is worldwide but the research suggests the United States is a particularly high-risk area, with one in nine men there admitting to online offending against children at some point.
“Child abuse material is so prevalent that files are on average reported to watchdog and policing organizations once every second,” said Childlight chief executive Paul Stanfield.
“This is a global health pandemic that has remained hidden for far too long. It occurs in every country, it’s growing exponentially, and it requires a global response,” he added.
The report comes after UK police warned last month about criminal gangs in West Africa and Southeast Asia targeting British teenagers in sextortion scams online.
Cases — particularly against teenage boys — are soaring worldwide, according to non-governmental organizations and police.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) issued an alert to hundreds of thousands of teachers telling them to be aware of the threat their pupils might face.
The scammers often pose as another young person, making contact on social media before moving to encrypted messaging apps and encouraging the victim to share intimate images.
They often make their blackmail demands within an hour of making contact and are motivated by extorting as much money as possible rather than sexual gratification, the NCA said.