Our Role of the Media in Arab Societies at Zayed University in June was a resounding success. Journalists and experts from the region gathered to discuss the impact of media in the Arab world, the difficulties of reporting in this region, and the effects of the new media landscape on these issues.
Click on the video above to watch segments from our night panel that featured Emirati columnist Mishaal al Gergawi, CNN Arabic’s Caroline Faraj, the Brookings Institute’s Shadi Hamid and Al Arabiya’s Najib Bencherif. We had a lively debate about self-censorship in the Arab press, the proper role of journalists in the region and even discussed whether reporters should strive for objectivity. I plan to use this video and the other sessions to launch classroom discussions with my journalism students.
On the day of the conference, we were honored by an invitation from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. He invited us to his palace and spoke to us about the importance of our conference. Sheikh Nahyan said that new technologies meant the media can no longer control messages completely. He illustrated this point by mentioning that cell-phone photos of him at a recent event had quickly spread over social media.
The official state news agency, WAM, quoted the Sheikh as saying: “This technology will change the world.” And he added “that it would also help to make Governments more responsive.”
Sheikh Nahyan went on to say that the media owed it to the public to promote “understanding and tolerance.”