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Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates
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Same place, different media literacy: A comparison of Arabic- and English-language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates

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This study explores differences in journalistic practice between two newspapers in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The authors compare one month of coverage of the National, an English-language …

This study explores differences in journalistic practice between two newspapers in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The authors compare one month of coverage of the National, an English-language newspaper, and Al Ittihad, an Arabic-language newspaper, to examine how each critically reports the news. This research aims to understand how both newspapers construct news for the audiences they serve and, in turn, understand the extent to which each newspaper affects the formation of media literacy within the United Arab Emirates. Using Kovach and Rosenthiel’s Principles of Journalism as a theoretical foundation, this study uses textual analysis to examine the presentation of photos, placement of articles, and the construction and omission of news. The conclusions provide insight into the differences in journalism practices between the two newspapers.

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  • 1. By Dr. Matt J. Duffy, Zayed University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Dr. Saba ElGhul-Bebawi, Swinburne University of Technology Melbourne, AustraliaPresentation for AUSACE 2011 conference • Beirut, Oct. 28-Nov. 1
  • 2.  Like most Arab countries, ranked ‘Not Free’ by Freedom House But, as Rugh (2004) notes UAE newspapers ‘do show independence of the government in criticizing the work of various ministries, such as health, labor, and education’ Few protections for journalists leave journalists erring on the side of caution• Journalist who cross ‘red lines’ worry about fines, loss of visa – but no longer jail
  • 3.  Founded in 2008 to provide growing Abu Dhabi an English-language newspaper Venture of government-owned Abu Dhabi Media Company
  • 4.  Chairman said The National ‘was born out of a vision that recognizes the key role that a free, professional and enlightened press plays in the national developmentH.E. Mohamed process’Mubarak Al Mazrouei
  • 5.  Hired 200 Western journalists Editor from UK’s Telegraph newspaper  He left post after a year Paper looks as good as any large metropolitan daily Other paper in Abu Dhabi is Arabic-language daily, Al Ittihad  Also government owned
  • 6.  Does The National succeed in bringing Western-style journalism to the UAE?  Or does self-censorship prevail? How does coverage in The National differ from coverage in Al Ittihad? How about a Critical Discourse Analysis to find out?
  • 7.  ‘Media Literacy’ literature ‘Principles of Journalism’ by Kovach and Rosenthiel  Truth and verification  Loyalty to citizens  Independence from powerful figures and institutions  Space for public criticism and compromise  Comprehensive and proportional reporting
  • 8.  Examined April 2011 Qualitative analysis Four questions:  Is it clear from the reporting that the newspaper is interested in verification and truth-telling?  Do the journalists serve as independent monitors of power?  Are the people interviewed allowed to offer criticism and debate issues?  Do the reports offer a comprehensive review of the news, or do they highlight some elements while omitting others?
  • 9.  Newspapers took dramatically different tacks toward reporting the news Pictures on front page offer starkest example…
  • 10. How The National differs from all the other UAE newspapers…
  • 11.  The National never published a government press release without at least some additional reporting Al Ittihad would often run press releases verbatim with government news agency tag (WAM)
  • 12.  National reporting would feature interviews with residents as well as government officials  Took impartial tack Al Ittihad would only interview government officials; perspective of residents would be voiced as journalists opinion  No ‘man on the street’ interviews
  • 13.  Both papers would independently monitor those in power (at least criticize) Both unlikely to identify exactly what official may be in charge of problem  Al Ittihad less likely than The National Al Ittihad didn’t cover court/crime during sample month Business coverage in news section (of both) was mostly toothless
  • 14.  The National offered more coverage of Arab Spring  Nearly every picture on front page in April focused on uprisings From 7Days (Dubai Tabloid) Al Ittihad offered only two photos of Arab Spring during April Both papers offered muted coverage of Bahrain, an ally of UAE Five democracy advocates arrested for “insulting rulers” in UAE  Al Ittihad only reported arrests via editorial  The National reported them after official word
  • 15.  The National offered many examples upholding ‘principles of journalism’ Impartial reporting, verification  Distinction between news and editorial But self-censorship persisted in certain areas Monitoring of powerful impaired by avoidance of naming names Also business (in the news section) reporting notably restrained
  • 16.  Al Ittihad creates quite a different ‘media literacy’ Journalism of ‘assertion’ rather than ‘verification’ No distinction between opinion and impartial news No quotes from residents, just government officials, other public figures  Impact on participation? Little accountability for those in positions of authority. Why?
  • 17.  Audience study would help further explore findings Are these findings unique or is Arab journalism much like Al Ittihad?  Are these characteristics all due to government restrictions? What is impact of Al Ittihad’s coverage on participation? Culture? Prickly issues surround these findings  Is there a “right” way to do journalism?
  • 18. www.mattjduffy.com Paper, presentation available on www.academia.edu/@mattjduffy mattjduffy

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