A publication of the World Editors Forum


Sun - 21.01.2018

Have priorities changed for Arab media businesses?

Have priorities changed for Arab media businesses?

"It's impossible to have editorial freedom without financial independence," said Aboubakr Jamai, founder and editor of Moroccan weekly magazine Le Journal Hebdomadaire, opening the business-focused session of the 5th Arab Free Press Forum, which also included Jacek Utko of Bonnier Business Press.

Many obstacles to successful news publication in the Arab World are receding, said Mohammed Alayyan, founder and publisher of Al-Ghad Daily, the first independent paper in Jordan, and the Alwasweet Weekly Newspaper.

In Tunisia, for example, it used to be very hard to get a licence to publish from the Ministry of Information. It was also difficult to find investors because many businessmen were put off by the tight controls on media properties, and the government favoured some institutions when it came to advertising and subscriptions. Since the uprisings, these problems are clearly less relevant.

So far, the Arab uprisings have not had a particularly positive effect on the financial side of the industry, said Alayyan, pointing out that advertising was down in Egypt in 2011. But in the long term, he believes that the situation will improve, as long as that governments do not own media companies. Ministries of Information should not exist, he said, as they are only a hindrance.

Digital media will provide new challenges but we have to accept these, Alayyan believes, and play close attention to what our readers want. Many news organisations in the Arab world still have sufficient margins to avoid cost-cutting for now, he added.

A social obstacle also used to exist: after so many years of censorship, Alayyan said, there were fewer professional journalists who were keen to work for news organisations, and journalism was not perceived as a prestigious profession. This has changed, however, and he believes that the work done by reporters during the uprisings has "given journalism back its true cause and prestigious social aspect."

There is a genuine desire for reform in Jordan, he said. The uprisings throughout the Arab World have led to an increase in pressure but also stronger reactions from the news media, he believes. "Pressure will always be there but it's how you cope with it. We used to accept it but our journalists don't accept pressures any more," he continued.

He encouraged publishers to come together to protect the freedom of the press. Despite the ongoing uprisings, press freedom and freedom of expression remain under serious threat in the Middle East and North Africa.

For more information on the conference see here, for pictures see here.



Emma Goodman


2012-01-26 12:16

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