x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 September 2017

Newspapers are here to stay despite growth of social media

A survey of readers in the Arab world shows that they rely heavily on social media for news, and want more information about their communities.

DUBAI // People who live in the Arab world rely heavily on social media for information, want more news about issues that directly affect them in their communities, and less information about sports, politics and media transparency.

According to a poll of more than 730 respondents taken by the Dubai Press Club (DPC), 53 per cent said they would like the media to focus on civics and education, family issues and health and medicine.

The DPC organises the annual Arab Media Forum, an event that aims to reflect the reality of the Arab media landscape and highlight ongoing developments.

The survey was conducted during the 11th holding of the forum, last month.

The poll also found that while 55 per cent thought the quality of Arab journalism had evolved for the better in the last two years, 24 per cent felt change was yet to take place.

"Notably, 21 per cent concurred that the situation has worsened," the DPC said.

Many respondents showed a strong reliance on social media for obtaining news.

More than 60 per cent of the participants said they received more than 30 per cent of their news from social media. Another 15 per cent gathered between 30 and 69 per cent of their news from this source.

"Additionally, 10 per cent of the respondents said they depend on social media as a news resource for almost 30 per cent of the time," said the DPC.

The poll also found that very few people relied on the print media for news about the Arab Spring and recent political changes in the region, preferring other sources instead.

More than half - about 54 per cent - followed recent political developments online, while 43 per cent watched television for updates.

Only 3 per cent read newspapers and magazines.

Despite the low preference for print media, at least 75 per cent felt the medium was here to stay.

The pilot survey aims to support the research of Arab Media Outlook, a report that tracks the changes, developments and media consumption patterns in 17 Arab countries.

At last month's forum, participants pressed for real media freedom and called for an end to government ownership of media in Egypt and in all other Arab Spring countries.

Media panellists said independent outlets were the way forward to reflect the happenings of the Arab world.

pkannan@thenational.ae