Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Periodical prognosis

In Communicate, Dubai, Interview, Journalism, Published journalism on November 23, 2010 at 6:37 pm

The FIPP’s Don Kummerfeld says magazines in the region can survive the crunch, but only if they expand their online scope

Originally published in Communicate, June 2009

Although advertising spend in the Middle East is notoriously hard to measure, the ad revenue from magazines in Western Europe and the US is in decline, and Don Kummerfeld predicts this region will not be far behind.

Kummerfeld is the president of the International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP), a global organization that represents magazine publishers and organizes training, networking and licensing fairs. He was recently in the UAE, and told Communicate advertising growth in magazines is likely to be on hold for a while in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »


Grand National

In Advertising, Communicate, Journalism, Opinion, Published journalism on November 23, 2010 at 6:24 pm

As the paper celebrates its first birthday, Communicate finds the title still has a long way to go

Originally published in Communicate, May 2009

At a round table in Abu Dhabi last month, Gavin Dickinson, the executive director of publishing at The National, spoke with journalists about the newspaper’s business model. Like everyone else, it seems the daily has been hit by the credit crunch. But being young, bold, and blessed with very rich parents, it doesn’t really care. Read the rest of this entry »

Star turn

In Journalism, Published journalism on November 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm

The fall and rise of Lebanon’s only English-language daily newspaper

By Austyn Allison and Nathalie Bontems

Originally published in Communicate, April 2009

The Daily Star is up and running again, after the Beirut-based newspaper almost closed for good in January. The Star’s publisher, editor and CEO, Jamal Mroue, tells Communicate that the return to print signifies the latest chapter of a “saga” that began around 10 years ago when one bank bought another. Read the rest of this entry »

The legend of Spamalot

In Communicate, Dubai, Journalism, Marketing, Public relations, Published journalism on November 23, 2010 at 5:43 pm

We look at the unsolicited mail in our inboxes, and see who’s jamming our computers with junk

Originally published in Communicate, September 2008

As journalists, we thrive on information, and a lot of this comes via our inboxes.

Unfortunately, to get to that information, we have to dig through piles of irrelevant rubbish, much of it sent by PR professionals.
So we fired a warning shot last month, when we warned we would name and shame the worst offenders. (See Letter from the editor, page 3, July-August 2008.) Read the rest of this entry »

License to bill

In Communicate, Dubai, Journalism, Published journalism, Q&A on November 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Haymarket’s licensing director, Tim Bulley, tells Communicate why a publisher should fork out fees to launch someone else’s title

Originally published in Communicate, September 2008

The region’s news stands are filled with regional editions of international magazine titles, and Haymarket is the name behind many of them. The UK-based publisher has 127 franchised titles around the world, and recently launched football magazine FourFourTwo through UAE publishing house The Media Factory. It is also preparing to relaunch Campaign, formerly with ITP, through Motivate Publishing. Although he would not be drawn to comment on the advertising title, Haymarket’s licensing director Tim Bulley did make time to talk to Communicate about why a publisher should fork out money on license fees rather than going it alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Press conference saves babies

In Communicate, Dubai, Journalism, Marketing, Public relations, Published journalism on November 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

P&G vaccinates 100 newborns for everyone who attends campaign launch

Originally published in Communicate, July 2008

Communicate (and some other journos) saved some babies yesterday. By going to a press conference.

We were intrigued by a press release from IPN, on behalf of P&G’s Pampers diaper brand, inviting us to attend the launch of their “1 large pack = 1 tetanus vaccine” campaign, run in partnership with UNICEF. It promised that, “P&G has pledged to donate 100 additional vaccines towards the campaign for every person who attends the press conference.” Journalists were encouraged to bring family and friends to further boost numbers at the presser. Read the rest of this entry »

Piersing insight

In Communicate, Dubai, Journalism, Published journalism on November 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Piers Morgan urges regional media to get more aggressive and stop kowtowing

Originally published in Communicate, December 2007

Piers Morgan came to the Media and Marketing Conference to discuss celebrities, and how they can be used by regional media. But when he took to the podium, although the one-time Fleet Street editor – now “shamelessly pursuing celebrity status myself” as a judge on America’s Got Talent – spoke a little about star power, he spent most of his 30-minute speech berating the regional press for being cowed and timid. Read the rest of this entry »

The strategy of spin

In Communicate, Dubai, Journalism, Marketing, Published journalism on November 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Sultan of spin Alastair Campbell was in Dubai last month for the PR congress

Originally published in Communicate, December 2007

One PR recently shared the refreshing confidence with Communicate that the reason she went into the business was that, “Whatever I do, it won’t harm anyone.” This is not true for all practitioners of the dark arts, though, and Alastair Campbell, described by one UK tabloid as “the most powerful man in Britain,” is – some would have it – proof that a well-spun story can be a lethal weapon. Read the rest of this entry »

Gulf News code of ethics plagiarizes section on plagiarism

In Communicate, Dubai, Journalism, Published journalism on November 22, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Editor in chief says code is a compilation of international papers’ best practices and should be credited as such

Originally published in Communicate, October 2007

“Plagiarism exists in many forms, from the wholesale lifting of someone else’s writing to the publication of a press release as news without attribution,” says the Gulf News ethics policy, published on the UAE daily’s Web site. “Staff writers’ work should be an original work. Do not borrow someone else’s words without attribution.”

Although there is no attribution, this section of the policy bears a striking similarity to the San Jose Mercury News, whose ethics policy, on their Web site, reads: “Plagiarism exists in many forms, from the wholesale lifting of someone else’s writing to the publication of a press release as news without attribution. The daily newspaper should be an original work. Do not borrow someone else’s words without attribution.”

Other sections of Gulf News’s policy have been lifted from papers including the Los Angeles Times.

When asked whether Gulf News has cribbed its ethics section on, well, cribbing, editor in chief Abdul Hamid Ahmad says, “We mentioned on that [Web page that] our code of ethics is lifted from other newspapers’ codes of practice. We mention in the source that this ethics code is based on the ethics codes of [other newspapers]. … The source is supposed to be there. Please check it again.”

We did. It isn’t sourced.


Nothing but static

In Communicate, Journalism, Published journalism, Television on November 22, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Mohamed Alayyan invested millions into ATV, Jordan’s first private TV station. Why, after years of delay, was it shut down on the very day of its planned launch?

Originally published in Communicate, October 2007

It was supposed to be a signal of the long-awaited liberalization of media in Jordan. But ATV isn’t broadcasting any Ramadan specials this year. In fact, as this magazine went to press two years after the station’s planned debut, ATV still hadn’t broadcast anything.

Jordan’s long-awaited first private TV station, ATV will miss regional broadcasting’s most profitable month due to a government shutdown on the day it was due to launch, sparked by wrangling over licensing, paperwork and debt.

Now Amman’s media scene is awash with rumors and speculation over the reasons for the delay and the fate of a station that was originally supposed to launch in late 2005.

The station’s frustrated owner, Mohamed Alayyan, says his losses are hurting him and he is ready to sell. “I cannot take this any more, this damage,” says Alayyan, a 33-year-old entrepreneur who broke ground by publishing Jordan’s first private daily, Al Ghad. “I am bleeding badly.”

Although he says rumors about the government buying ATV are unfounded, Alayyan says, “If I have a good buyer at a good price I will sell it definitely. … Right now several big investors have contacted me – I’d rather keep their names till the deal is done – and hopefully they will be able to launch it.”

Mohanned Khatib, managing director of ATV, is a former anchorman at Al Arabiya who was hired by Alayyan to head up the new station. After telling Communicate in 2006 that the station was expecting to launch “sometime around the end of the year” – last year, that is – Khatib says he is now dealing with bureaucrats who offer nothing but “excuses” when it comes to the station’s aborted launch.

“It was supposed to officially launch on Aug. 1,” says Khatib. “However, we were delayed by the Audio-Visual Commission [AVC], which regulates all TV and radio stations in Jordan. And we received several letters from them. Some excuses – I would say invalid excuses – but we have to abide by the rules.”

Speaking of the two-year delay, Khatib says, “Most of it started with the technical issues – licensing and frequencies and all that. But then it developed further, going into our content and other things,” adding that the regulator has begun demanding paperwork ATV had already submitted “several times.”

It’s enough to make one suspect that politics, and an official antipathy toward private broadcasters, are behind the delay. Alayyan refuses to be drawn into speculation about a political motive, but says the station’s novelty plays a part.

“I think [the problems] are because we are new, and this has never happened before,” he says. “But this is a huge step backwards for independent media.”

Hussain Banihani, general director of the government’s AVC, tells Communicate the regulator is blocking the satellite broadcast due to Alayyan’s unpaid debts.

ATV owes money to state-owned Jordan TV according to a deal whereby the new station was to take over frequencies and infrastructure for its terrestrial broadcast, and to another government body, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), for the right to use those terrestrial frequencies. Yet the ATV terrestrial broadcast never got off the ground due to various technical issues.

“They have money to pay to Jordan TV and to the TRC here in Jordan for the frequencies and so on,” says Banihani. “Let them pay the money and they will be on air right now.”

Alayyan admits he has yet to hand over the money, which amounts to 3.5 million Jordanian dinars ($4.9 million), but says this should not be the concern of the AVC, which is supposed to regulate only the satellite broadcast. “Just because [the AVC] is the government doesn’t mean they have the right to collect [the money],” says Alayyan. “That’s a different contract. We are not disputing the issue of the terrestrial. There’re lots of technical issues with regard to the terrestrial that need ironing out.”
“We signed the contract with Jordan TV but never took the service,” he adds. “We never aired anything [and] they never took down their channel for us to use, and yet they started counting on us for money.”

In fact, Alayyan claims Jordan TV never paid for those terrestrial frequencies either, and he is hesitant about paying up in case ATV gets lumbered with Jordan TV’s existing debt. “When you buy a car, you don’t want to buy one with any debts, do you?” he asks.

One thing is certain: ATV won’t be seeing much return on its investment in programming for Ramadan this year. For the peak season, Khatib says the station had invested around 2.5 million Jordanian dinars ($3.5 million) in content.

The absence from the airwaves during Ramadan has cost the company dearly. “We had prepared a very expensive grid especially for Ramadan. … The premiums for Ramadan are very high, and you can buy this stuff for maybe a quarter of the price after Ramadan. It was a major disaster for us,” says Khatib.

As well as looking forward to a new avenue for advertisers during the holy month, media buyers were anticipating the new lease of life ATV would give to Jordan’s stagnant television scene.

Media planners have long said a private local TV station would fill an important gap in the country’s media market, especially for local advertisers keen to reach a Jordanian audience without having to resort to pricey pan-Arab satellite broadcasters or print media.

“We were all eagerly waiting for ATV,” says Jöelle Jammal, managing director of ad agency Promoseven Jordan. “It will push Jordan TV to make some changes and some refurbishment to the whole operation,” she says, adding ATV’s proposed grid was a big change from the dominant state-owned broadcaster’s more staid slate of programs.

What could have been a breath of fresh air has brought an odor of disappointment to the noses of Jordan’s media. “I think the whole thing is unfortunate,” Khatib says. “I think it’s confusing to some, and I think it reflects badly on our country.”