Newsletter No 21 07 March 2006
 
Editors Voice:
Impact of Internet and Satellite Channels: Freer Reporting From Arab Newspapers

There are many trends effecting newsrooms world-wide, but in the Arab world the most important may be the impact that the internet and satellite channels have on censorship.

"We think the growth of satellite news has benefited us greatly," said Mohamed Al-Mezel, Assistant Editor of Gulf News, in a workshop on trends in newsrooms at the Middle East Publishing Conference in Dubai.

"Governments in the region have been very conservative. There is little access to get the real news behind the announced news. But what happened with the rise of the satellite channels is that they gave us more access," he said. "Al-Jazeera gives the news as it comes. That gives us the incentive to go to officials here and say, 'the news has been announced by al-Jazeera. You can confirm it or deny it but you can't change that fact'."

Mr Al-Mezel said governments in the region have reacted "reasonably well" to the trend.

"Readers of the Gulf News know there are controversial stories that can be reported now that could not three or four years ago,' he said.  "We can say that the growth of online press and satellite press has provided more freedom to report the news as it comes, without interference from governments and without manipulation by spin doctors from the information ministries."

The workshop also provided an overview of trends in newsrooms from around the world, drawn from the Editors Weblog (http://www.editorsweblog.org) and the upcoming Trends in Newsrooms 2006 publication from the World Editors Forum.

Bertrand Pecquerie, Director of the World Editors Forum, focused on seven trends and issues that are being considered and debated in newsrooms worldwide:

- Is the future of print online?

- Will all news be free?

- Newspapers are beginning to welcome citizen journalists. How can they be further integrated?

-  How can regional newspapers re-connect with their communities?

- How are broadband and multimedia transforming newspaper journalism?

- What are the new jobs and new responsibilities for editors?

He said those issues and more are included in the 2006 Trends in Newsroom publication and will be the focus of the World Editors Forum conference in Moscow in June (http://www.moscow2006.com).