The first panel, on Future Trends in Arab News Media, brought together two scholars, Zahera Harb from City University of London and Abeer Al-Najjar from the University of Sharjah, and two journalists, Rima Maktabi from Al Arabiya television and Rasha Qandeel from BBC Arabic.
Omar Al-Ghazzi, of the London School of Economics, was the panel’s chair.
Al-Najjar, who is a co-author with Al-Ghazzi of a study titled “What Role for a Digital Future? Exploring Arab News and Publics”, talked about how mobile phones are changing journalism.
It is becoming the norm for reporters to use their phones to capture a story, she said, and this is giving rise to individual journalists rather than media organizations.
Maktabi agreed that the role of journalists has become much more than just reporting the news. They have to film, report and update all the various social media platforms tied to the news channel they work for, she said.
Qandeel added that it could be a challenge to know what the audience wants to see and hear in the media.
Maktabi said dialogues between academics and journalists were important. Scholars “do the research that opens journalists’ minds and to learn how to move forward.”
Contemporary Arab Political Cultures
Al-Ghazzi, who also organized the symposium, spoke on another panel about his research in Lebanon, where he met artists who were managing to create art amidst the country’s multiple crises.
He discussed many facets of how art is used in the public arena and how it affects people’s memories. “It is very important to discuss contemporary cultures of futurity and how the state and activists think of the future,” he said.