Media strategy essential to combat external campaigns: Experts

The panelists at the media seminar organized on Friday as part of the Jeddah International Book Fair.

Saudi Gazette

Growing challenges faced by the Saudi media haves become a major topic of discussion on news channels, prompting urgent calls for solutions by experts in the field. The challenges and possible solutions were discussed at a seminar held during the 4th edition of Jeddah International Book Fair that concluded here on Saturday.

At Jeddah International Book Fair Auditorium on Friday, prominent journalism professionals discussed the future of Saudi media at the seminar entitled "Media Challenges".

The panelists were Jameel Altheyabi, editor-in-chief of Okaz and general supervisor of Saudi Gazette, famous radio show host Salama Al-Zaid and columnist Dr. Ali Bin-Hassan Al-Tawati.

Saad Zuhair, a well-known Saudi TV presenter, welcomed the speakers and experts, who included practicing journalists, representatives of various media publications, legal professionals and academics.

Opening the forum, Al-Zaid deplored the current situation of the Saudi media. He said Saudi media needs a strategy to better utilize information, particularly in terms of external communication.

He said: "I have been in this field for long years and I don't see any real strategy that the Saudi media is implementing. Therefore preparing a successful strategy is an important element in increasing the effectiveness of our media organizations. Yes, Saudi media at present is facing many challenges and I believe that these challenges will require news organizations to get serious about how to spread the Saudi message not locally but internationally.”

Altheyabi underlined the main challenges the Saudi media is facing currently. He agreed that Saudi media needs a strong strategy that could lead to a brighter future.

"In our Vision 2030, this great country requires an efficient media capable of transcending the borders," Altheyabi said.

"The nation's objective is to develop media industries and strengthen their competitiveness internationally. However, Saudi Arabia has no channels that communicate with the external world in foreign languages, notably English. In order to reach the wider international audience, we have to draw up our strategy right and work hard to spread our message," he said.

Altheyabi said in order to improve the image of Saudi Arabia abroad, the Saudi lobby must fund research centers and institutions and at the same time depend on young and intelligent Saudi figures who are capable of communicating with the world.

Sharing his valuable insights, Dr. Al-Tawati said the Saudi media made a strong presence in the 1960s but later it failed to meet the expectations because of a lack of strategy.

He agreed with Altheyabi that the media failed "to fight off the organized media campaign Saudi Arabia has suffered lately."

After the discussions, the panelists opened up the floor for questions from the audience.

The two-hour-long event ended with a closing ceremony, during which the panelists and participants talked one-on-one.