‘Mideast more than bullets, bombs and oil price’

Vice-President and Senior Managing Editor for International News at the Associated Press John Danisjewski and Al Arabiya News editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas during a discussion on "The future of news media in the region" in Dubai. – Courtesy photo

Vice-President and Senior Managing Editor for International News at the Associated Press John Danisjewski and Al Arabiya News editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas during a discussion on “The future of news media in the region” in Dubai. – Courtesy photo

Social media is not a threat to the traditional media, but offers great opportunity for media outlets to gather information, a top international expert said.

John Danisjewski, Vice-President and Senior Managing Editor for International News at the Associated Press, said, his organization uses social media feeds to gather news, however, after adequately filtering them.

“We do not see social media as a threat, rather as a great opportunity for our journalists to track news faster. However, there are dangers associated with them, if not verified. One has to exercise caution in checking the facts and the contents as these are fed by individuals that need careful verification.”

Danisjewski, who sits on the board of the Pulitzer Prize committee, ruled out expanding it to cover the international media, however, was open to the idea of a collaboration with the Arab Journalism Award that is to take place on Wednesday – in future, when asked.

The Associated Press announced the launch of AP Middle East Extra – a video content offering in Arabic that would widen the American news agency’s role in the Middle East. Associated Press was founded in 1846 by the US newspaper owners to create a common source of news for all of them.

“The Middle East is more than bullets, bombs and oil price,” he said, when asked to comment on the region. “There is the other side to the Middle East society which needs to be explored. There are so much more to the region.
That’s why we have launched the new venture to focus on the larger canvas of the Middle East society – to reflect on arts, culture, architecture, economy and society.”

His company has hired people and is still on the lookout for more journalists. “Yes, we have a few more openings in the region as we expand operations.”

Technology is a great enabler. It has also empowered and changed the media landscape globally. He said, technology makes news transmission easier. “In the earlier days, we used to send stories through telex. Now smartphones do the needful within minutes,” he said.

Despite the changes in the landscape, he said, the traditional media will continue to grow while social media will dominate people’s lives. “People in the region will be greatly influenced by the social media, recommendations by friends on a particular report and read them when one posts it online and shares them,” he said. – SG

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