Journalism is here to stay


Saudi Gazette report

— Many Saudi journalists are of the view that journalism as a profession will remain and the journalists will continue their work just like doctors, teachers and engineers despite new advancements in their respective fields.

In the face of rapid changes taking place in the media scene, they point out that journalists still have vital social roles to play not only in reporting but also in the field of research and analysis. But there is one condition, which is he or she must remain patient even if it took a month or more to collect data and verify facts when compiling a report, they add.

Many journalists who spoke to Al-Hayat newspaper recently have said social media figures do not have the tools that help them create a unique and professional content. They compared social media figures with the periodic boom in the stock market boom, which soon will fade.

Most of the social media figures do not know the basics of professional journalism and do not understand its nature. They always act as journalists and pretend to know the ins and outs of the profession. Naturally, journalists were affected negatively by the campaign against them, but that does not diminish the role of their work and the true meaning of the profession.

It is natural that journalists will be attacked by social media figures for many reasons. All what these social media figures do is write a tweet or record a 10-second clip.

Many people had predicted that print journalism would end with the emergence of radio. The same thing happened when TV channels became popular. The same is happening with every invention that enters the market.

Saudi journalist Nahid Bashatah most social media figures as will disappear from the scene sooner or later and only a few influencers will remain.

Bashatah blames the journalist who does not defend the profession. She pointed out that many departments ignore journalists who participate in public events.

She added, "Journalists should develop their tools. They have many advantages that social media figures do not possess. They have the sense of journalism and the ability to express their views, in addition to vast experience. Sadly, journalists are neglected by their own organizations. They do not receive proper training and because of the current global economic slowdown, the monthly salaries and financial rewards are not attractive anymore. That is why traditional newspapers are now facing extinction.”

Sukaina Al-Meshekhis, another female Saudi journalist, said many social media activists became famous for reasons other than journalism and without having an intellectual or cultural role. They became famous in terms of entertainment. They do not have the depth that qualifies them for an intellectual leadership role or shaping public opinion.

She said, "The best they can do is to employ them to influence their followers by conveying nationally and socially important messages. They are not real partners in development.”

Al-Meshekhis believes that the influence of social media figures is based on circumstantial situation of their followers. It does not necessarily mean that journalist are ignored as intellectual elite. Social media figures are on the top because their audience is attracted to frivolous matters, she said.

"Many journalists had left the profession and joined public relations companies to serve as a medium between the government departments and print media, but currently they are facing difficulty in that role. Sadly that role is diminishing lately with the decline of print media," Al-Meshekhis said.

On the other hand, social media figures have a very minimal role, unlike journalists.

Badea Abu Al-Naja, a Saudi journalist based in Makkah, said despite the fact that social media is leading the scene now, they have not reached the level of intellectual leaders because they lack experience. They lack analytical skills and writing experience.

He said, "The reason behind marginalizing the role of journalists in small private sector occasions, like the opening of a restaurant or a commercial shop, is the policy of newspapers that insist on advertising in the print newspaper such occasions if they wanted coverage. On the other hand, journalists are always invited to cover major events, such as economic conferences or marketing events."