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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

A decade of media experimentation

The past decade has not been easy for newspapers; nor has it been dull. No one goes into journalism wanting an easy time or a boring one.

So it hasn’t been a bad decade. On the contrary, it has been an exciting one. And for the Middle East, 2008 saw the birth of a newspaper that made its mark from day one.

Launched on 17 April 2008, The National was able to carve out a unique space as the newspaper telling the story of Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the wider region. At a time when newspapers around the world were being closed, The National was established to become a newspaper of record for the UAE and Middle East, with a network of writers around the world.

While The National was being born, the media industry around the world was being disrupted and transformed. Round-the-clock satellite TV news was no longer the key challenger; rather, the growth of the digital sources of information, in all their forms, became the prime competitor to traditional media.

Social media networks and mobile phones (the iPhone recently turned 10 too) have revolutionised how people around the world get their information. Terms such as “Google it”, “fake news” and “tweet” have become common in journalist lexicon, and in the consciousness of readers.

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Read more of our 10-year anniversary coverage here:

SPECIAL REPORT: Chronicling 10 years of change in the UAE

Sometimes we all need a Helping Hand: how our readers are saving lives

The taste of progress

FNC: of the people, by the people, for the people

Time travel and transformation

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Less than 10 months since our relaunch under the ownership of International Media Investments, our shift to digital growth has meant a focus on varying how we tell a story.

Almost 90 per cent of our readers never see our newspaper. On any given day, 30 to 35 per cent of our readers come to our pages – the digital ones – through search.

But our dedicated core readers continue to subscribe to our print edition and our daily newsletter, and engage with our outlets such as the website, the app and social media feeds.

The joy of print today is that a story that could previously only be written in a confined space of 500 words can come to life in immersive storytelling. While the written word remains at the core of how we reach our readers, we have a growing audience for visual storytelling through photos, video and animated graphics.

Audio is becoming crucial to news and thus we have three weekly podcasts recorded in our studio in Abu Dhabi, with more in the pipeline.

As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we are thinking about the next 100. We are not naive about the challenges that face us. From monetising digital content to engaging younger audiences, the task ahead is to remain relevant and worthy of our readers’ most important resource – time.

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