SILVER LININGWestern media undergoing technology challenges [Archives:2006/1004/Opinion]

December 4 2006

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
During the last two weeks I was on a study trip to the Netherlands, U.K. and Denmark along with some media professors from Sana'a and Aden universities. We went to the University Zwolle and Lincoln University as well as the Danish School of Journalism along with visits to media institutions.

I have noticed the print media industry in these Western countries is in jeopardy; there is a growing debate over the question of newspapers losing their readership due to the internet and mobile technology. Big newspapers like The Sun in Britain are going through massive changes in the design, the content and even the size where broadsheet newspapers are turning into either tabloid or compact. Some of these media houses have even merged to be able to face the economic challenges due to readership loss.

The problems these newspapers are facing are due to youngsters not reading newspapers. This fact is not restricted to one country, but maybe all over Europe and the U.S. I have listened to the arguments of some media industry people that these young people complain about not finding interesting things to attract them to reading newspapers. The youngsters, who are the focal point of all media attention, complain that traditional journalism and reporting does not fit into their aspirations guided by the tremendous development of technology and they prefer to go to the internet where they can find whatever they want. Elderly people often only read newspapers.

In an attempt to sustain, some of the newspapers have started distributing free copies in order to attract the readers while others have shifted to the web where they can provide readers with what they want from news and entertainment while they try to attract readers to their hard copies with their analysis and background reports. On the web, these newspapers are even presenting video journalism. They try to encourage interactive and participatory journalism. The audiences are becoming the journalists themselves as they are involved in more discussions and debates and are encouraged to find solutions to their own problems. They can even send their stories and reports to these sites to be published. The readers are no longer only receptive of the news that comes from newsrooms; they are becoming the makers of the news. The motto is becoming “write for yourself.”” This shift is fascinating and could forecast enormous changes in the concept of media.

Some of the radio stations we noticed in Holland are aware of the great impact of the internet and other technologies