Recent research has shown that the development of the Middle East and North Africa region is accompanied by several changes, particularly in the media sector, in terms of the adoption of new information sources and the use of social media. It was found that social networks have become the most popular source of information, mainly among Arab youth. This makes us wonder if the end has really come for the written press….
Traditional media faced with social media
In 2017, a survey on Arab youth highlighted how social media has been able to transform young people’s habits in terms of receiving and accessing information. This survey revealed that 35% of respondents received news on a daily basis via Facebook, while 31% use other different electronic sources. As for news television channels and newspapers, their utilisation rate is estimated at 9%.
It was also found that young people in the Arab world are increasingly relying on Facebook to access information compared to previous years. Consequently, social media continue to take more and more place in terms of information access, it has become a real source of influence, communication and news and information sharing.
Concerning videos, this survey on Arab youth, which includes 16 countries, indicated that half of Arab youth (50%) visit YouTube daily. As a result, many users continue to invest in video
On the other hand, CNN reported that women in Saudi Arabia also make videos on YouTube to express their opinions.
Yet, despite the use of social media, ordinary media sources are not yet dead. 74% of women in the Middle East prefer traditional media to social media and consider the latter less reliable.
When talking about written press, it is undergoing, just like other traditional sources of information, a real crisis because the newspaper reading rate has dropped remarkably, to 25% in 2017. Fortunately, written press professionals have taken appropriate measures to get out of this critical situation. They thought of completing their paper edition with an online edition to cover all needs.
Bashar Kiwan is the founder and also the president of the al-Waseet International (AWI) group, a large publishing house that specializes in media, namely al-Waseet which is a classified newspaper, Layalina which is a people monthly and al-Balad which is a daily newspaper.
Being very interested in the Middle East’s digital evolution, Bashar Kiwan plans to invest in some online digital properties to strengthen his media’s presence and regain the readers’ confidence.
With the digital revolution taking place in the Middle Eastern countries, it will be interesting to see how written press will cope with the current crisis in the media sector.