Saturday, February 08, 2014

Media in the Kingdom

Today, I want to share a little about how the print media work in the Kingdom. There are a lot of Arabic newspapers, but since I do not either understand or speak more than pidgin Arabic, I will not be talking about these. My two sources of information here in the Kingdom are Arab News and the Saudi Gazette. Although I do not have a print subscription to either of them, I check their posts on Facebook almost every day, and when I go to the highlighted bit of news, I go to their home page and look at the other news items as well. 

It seems as though the Arab News site has more diverse news than the SG site. I do not know why this is so, but then, SG is more like a tabloid, and AN has a large newspaper format and has many reporters all over Asia, the Americas and Europe. Their editorials are more balanced, as are their main news items. 

It is fair to say that they have a self-imposed censorship and they ALWAYS defer to the royal family and the government even when the news item is not so laudatory to either of them. However, and this is significant - they do publish letters which are critical of the ruling establishment; they also allow comments on their web-site which are similarly critical (though they do moderate the comments, they usually print most of them). 

Their coverage of news from South and South-east Asia is also far-reaching, and they often surprise the reader with news on events that are hardly of any importance to the Middle East. For example, they did write on the floods in Uttaranchal, the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, the Chinese "intrusions" in Arunachal Pradesh, and even the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party. 

What I like is their third-last page, as they have a cross-word, a Sudoku, a complete map on weather and namaaz times in the Kingdom, and a chain of comics. Indeed, I consider it a good newspaper. Whenever I am in Taif or any other big city, I make it a point to purchase the newspaper every day. 

The Gazette - I have seen just a few times. Sometimes, it does have great pieces of news on India, but mostly, it focuses on news from Saudi Arabia, and a bit on the Middle East and Egypt.

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