OUTLOOK — By Asim Al Shedi — The Arab Media Forum held in Dubai recently saw a large crowd of media people who gathered in one venue. Most sessions were attended by some 2,400 people, including editors of renowned newspapers and magazines and senior journalists who influenced the Arab media scene since the 1970s to the present day. There were brilliant names from all over the Arab world like Jihad al Khazin and Abdulbari Atwan and many more.
Among the attendees were young journalists and bloggers on Facebook and Tweeter who have a firm belief that the future belongs to the online-media alone and that the printed media must withdraw from the scene. The Dubai Press Club succeeded in bringing together different generations of media professionals who debated on the new media forms and the challenges facing the traditional media in the age of the Arab revolutions. The forum saw heated discussions and conflicting views.
Personally, I think the opinion of many participants that the on-line media will take over the printed media, is somewhat exaggerated. Even in the West I don’t think such a notion exists. Some were so infatuated by the modern technology that they believe it could cancel everything traditional and that the printed press would soon vanish and there would be no place for the likes of Haikan, Mustafa Amin, Ali Amin, Jihad al Khazin and Abdulbari Atwan, and other brilliant names who established the glory of the Arab media. I am against the viewpoint that the virtual world will dominate the media realm and I think the conventional media should not surrender its role and withdraw from the scene, on the contrary it must rise to the challenge and modernise its means so as to maintain its prominent standing, otherwise the already fragile culture of the Arab world suffer the blows of the on-line media superficialities.
I was quite impressed by the heavy female presence at the Arab Media Forum which made me wonder whether the future of the Arab media will be dominated by woman. After the conclusion of last year’s Forum Jihad al Khazin wrote an article asking if all the female journalists who participated in the Forum were beauty queens, or he grew so old that he saw all women as beautiful.
“This year all of them were beautiful but not in the perspective of a old man like you” I said to the veteran journalist, he laughed and told me about the standards of a woman’s beauty and how it differed from the old generations to the new ones.