Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The ‘Journalism and Twitter’ Controversy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A woman overlooking newspapers. Reuters

It is an argument never appeased nor settled, and perhaps it would take mankind long before breaking free from this everlasting controversy. Press on one side of the scale and social media weighing up the other; as if those two mediums were created to remain counterparts, forever parallel and never meeting. It is as if the two aforementioned emblems of news circulation were destined to always be at conflict.

One must mention that there is a present unjustifiable desire for inhibition among intertwining means; especially in light of the instinctive jaundice going against all that is old, and the ordained triumph for all that is new.

The line of distinction could be drawn by the passion social media is distinguished by and which old style media now lacks. With passion being addressed, one must reckon that the receiver would be placed in a whole different scene. Nonetheless, as to which would stand out victorious in the grueling race is the contestant utilizing the mean for an end, and which refrains from prioritizing the medium and losing sight of purpose.

In keep with the subject, I have recently participated at the first digital seminar headlined “hashtag on Twitter,” which was organized by SkyNewsArabia and in cooperation with Twitter in the Middle East.

The first session discussed the future of journalism in the booming era of social media. It also addressed the way social media affects the principals of traditional journalism; bearing in mind the reservation I keep on the term “traditional journalism,” for in this day and time, a majority – if not all- of newspapers, televised broadcasts and radio stations have online portals, whether being a website, a social media account or a YouTube channel.

Given that “traditional journalism” had successfully incorporated itself to the online arena, calling it “traditional” would defeat the purpose.

The dilemma is that a certain shade of the spectrum still perceives print to be the sole face of newspapers, noting that it has been forever and a day since newspapers restricted their content to print.

Any world media outlet in reality is versatile, employing its content across several platforms and mediums, and print is only a single mean to an end, which is news reaching the public.

Taking into consideration the approach which delivers content on an audience -costumed platform, print addresses a certain audience. While news circulated online, whether or not on social media, is also reader attentive in its own way and reaches a different part of this world.

However, one must bear in mind that mediums – chiefly online- are mere means for passage and not the production of distinguished news.

With revolutionary new platforms surfacing, newspapers now reach millions of readers, after in its print days, only being picked up by a few thousand.

The unprecedented capacity for propagation provided by modern day technology was termed as “reaching for the stars” back in the day, even in the media outlets prime days.

With a monumental scale of diversity, new technology revolutionizing the news industry – for those who can effectively employ its benefit- can indeed allow newsmakers and deliverers to take on a massive leap forward with widening the scope of readers.

Nonetheless, media outlets clamping to the traditional way of doing things, remain unable to adapt to occurring drastic changes and thus sentencing themselves to stagnation and a slowly delivered death.

The same equation applies to viewers following YouTube channels more than satellite broadcasts. However, content remains the same and the only variant is the audience custom medium.

Whether print dies or not, journalism will endure till the end of times. Any newspaper could confidently cite Harun al-Rashid “rain wherever you may, your river would rise and flow my way;” In the sense of, whoever seeks to read it in print, online, on their smartphones, or any new age technology –which compiles the world’s sum of news fitting it all into the size of our pockets- newspapers will always rank top and never cease.

One could say that the craft, being journalism, will forever endure; nevertheless the mean will always alter and modify, and only those capable of making use of modern age technology will open up wide horizons for their message to travel the world; they would forever partake in this chronic race and their influence will know no boundaries.