(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) NAYSAYERS OF the print media can eat their words, for the newspaper industry is here to stay while social media makes heads turn.
Dissemination of news is now quick and personal to reflect the aspirations of the common man, woman, and young person on the street. This does not mean the humble printed paper will fold up and be tucked away into history after the online media onslaught.
What's happening in the West need not hold good for this region. Traditional media have gone into a shell in North America and Europe in the era of Facebook and more Net connectivity. Users and readers here in the Middle East are getting more literate and embracing both media - learning, connecting, reading and uploading. News in an instant does not mean the daily paper on the doorstop, enjoyed best with a cuppa, will disappear anytime soon in the region. Youth are leading the charge, the media is in transition mode and virtual networks are gaining ground. The young have to age with the real thing - the newspaper. There's also competition from television while radio is making a comeback.
TV and social media are better at breaking a story, while print takes it forward with more context and analysis, allowing room to understand the complex changes shaping ourworld. In a recent survey by the Dubai Press Club, 75 per cent of respondents said print will hold its masthead high, while 25 per cent said it is the death knell for this traditional platform. According to the poll conducted during the Arab Media Forum last month, 53 per cent of the respondents want the media to focus on civic issues, education, family and health.
The quality of Arab journalism has improved vastly, according to 55 per cent surveyed and social media is the first stop for news with 60 per cent opting for the source. Amid these changes, the challenge for newspapers as they battle and complement younger social media, is to stay local, grounded and comprehensive to suit varied tastes.
This strategy will appeal to a wider audience of different ages. Speed may be of essence to some news consumers, but print has time on its side to perfect and discover facets of a story, uncover faces behind the sources and lend credibility to reports.
Older publishing media houses should capitalise on brand value while staying true to the events they cover and the people they engage with on a daily basis. They must discover a social side to make their voices heard above the din. Above all, they must stay contemporary and youthful in approach, while maintaining their zest for a higher calling. Only then will they deliver value to the masses.