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Egypt experiencing a "seismic media evolution"

Egypt experiencing a "seismic media evolution"

Much of the transformation in the newspaper industry is led by the big western players: The New York Times has announced it will charge for content, The Guardian has launched a paid news app for the iPhone, and the Apple tablet is eagerly anticipated.

But these changes affect other parts of the world, as the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reminds us. "In Egypt, we are also experiencing a seismic media evolution," Tarek Atia writes, in a considered op-ed on the state of the newspaper industry in Egypt and the future of media.
Most Egyptians still access the news via print newspapers, which have a combined circulation of between 1.5 and two million copies a day, or television, and particularly late night talk shows, he writes. But there are around 15-18 million internet users and nearly 54 million mobile phone users in a population of 80 million. He calls this "a huge untapped market", adding that the country is behind other markets in terms of the transition to digital distribution.

"Al-Masry Al-Yom and Al-Shorouk, the two top contenders from the private press trying to break the hegemony of Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuriya, have begun offering mobile versions of their sites, as well as SMS news services," he writes. "Their websites are also far more interactive and user friendly than those of Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuriya, although at least two of those traditional giants are actively trying to better that situation."

"Another private contender, Al-Yom Al-Sabei has managed to become the go-to site for news consumers who want the latest breaking news online, since it is updated all the time and has an attractive user interface."

In the future, a non-stop flow of messages will dominate daily life, particularly through screen-based media, he says. Although the term 'print media' will no longer be used, printed newspapers and magazines will still be popular, but seen as more valuable, much like books, he opines.

And although bloggers in Egypt have made headlines, citizen media has not reached its full potential, he adds.

His tentative advice? When dominated by big media companies, maybe the answer for everyone else is to go as local as possible, as in the Nase Adresa model in the Czech Republic, where journalists and citizens interact in newsroom/coffee shops.

"Journalism's future looks to be harking back to its past," he concludes, "as an essential conduit of information relevant to you."

Source: Al-Ahram



Elizabeth Redman


2010-01-21 16:30

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