Saudi Gazette marks embrace of digital media

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A Saudi Gazette function was held in Jeddah Tuesday, the last of four presentations to communicate its growth and vision to staff and stakeholders.

Since the radical change in management, structure and editorial approach that took place in April last year, Saudi Gazette has passed some remarkable milestones during its transformation to a largely digital platform.

“In an increasingly digital world where events occur and are picked up and broadcast by social media almost instantaneously, a newspaper has to be much more responsive than simply the print edition,” said Khaled Almaeena, Editor-in-chief.

He said that the rise of citizen journalism also needed to be treated cautiously, as the journalistic rules of accuracy and verification possible sanctions did not necessarily apply to inaccurate reports.

However, a modern newspaper must be so much more than just the print edition, he said.

Saudi Gazette has embraced that understanding and has expanded its platform into the digital world online, through the social media and networks.

The key element now is not news reporting alone, but responsiveness to live events and very much increased interaction with our readers.

Almaeena acknowledged the huge contribution women journalists and managers made to the restructured Saudi Gazette.

Drawing on Margaret Thatcher for inspiration, he quoted her iconic axiom delivered in speech to the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds Conference on May 20, 1965: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

He highlighted their invaluable contributions, from international standard journalism to senior management, pointing out that Somayya Jabarti was his deputy editor-in-chief.

Almaeena observed that there was a deep well of young talent in the Kingdom and it was essential to tap it, not simply because it was Saudi, but because it was the engine to drive the new style of news medium Saudi Gazette was visibly transforming into.

Referring to the newspaper’s internship program, he said: “The interns of today are the editors of tomorrow. We intend to grow our own by extending the opportunity to work with us.”

A presentation at the meeting outlined some of the remarkable achievements that the Saudi Gazette had marked up in the 13 months since its corporate rebirth, particularly in the area of its growing digital platform.

Twitter followers had increased by 1,244 percent and Facebook “Likes” by 1,828 percent.

The increase in Internet readers however dwarfed even these impressive statistics. April-to-April page-views monthly had risen 500 percent, showing a surge in April 2013 alone of 79 percent.

Even more impressive was the number of monthly unique visitors, who have the Saudi Gazette as a “favorite” and not visited by chance browsers, had risen over 600 percent with a surge of 81 percent in April 2013.

Independent verification of the speed and quality of the transformation the presentation revealed came from the renowned “Forbes Listing.” Saudi Gazette in 2012-2013 entered the Top Newspaper in Arab World list at 35 from being unlisted last year.

Added to this was its positioning in the top 10 newspaper websites judged by number of new visits and the accolade of Top Online Newspaper in Social Media for 2012.

Almaeena pointed out that while the digital edition was the major focus of future development, there was a vital role for the printed edition that produced a more reflective, feature based complement to the digital edition.

“Here we have a chance to dig deeper into background, explore challenging issues of women’s rights, education, environment and alternative energy for example,” he said, adding, “All of these areas are of vital concern to the developing Kingdom, but need a more considered and analytical approach than a fast-paced digital edition tends to deliver.”

Almaeena concluded that he thought the current progress was truly remarkable and sincerely thanked the staff, journalists, editorial and technical staff for their incredible energy and commitment, adding that they had pushed the bar of achievement up to a new high.

“No resting on our laurels here, I am afraid. Success is not a destination, it’s a journey,” he said. “And we have only just begun.”

This article was originally published by Saudi Gazette on Thursday 30 May