Saudi e-papers ... fabricating news?
E-papers are accused of low professional standards, lack of proofreading and neglecting
Despite their success, electronic newspapers in the Kingdom are frequently accused of fabricating news and stealing stories from print media, Al-Madinah daily reported.
E-papers are also accused of low professional standards, lack of proofreading and neglecting to name the sources of their news.
In return, many e-papers claim that published papers pinch news from them and claim these stories as their own.
Nayef Al-Meshait, editor-in-chief of electronic newspaper Al-Weeam, agreed the quality of e-papers was below par, even though some have existed for many years.
He said that e-papers’ biggest advantage is the high level of freedom they have when publishing news and the online discussions they hold that are accessible to readers.
Accusations that e-papers have been fabricating news have not been proven and print media have previously been accused of the same thing, he said.
Abdulsalam Al-Qezaiz, a Saudi avid e-paper reader said believed the level of e-papers in the country is very good, pointing to Sabq as an example of a top Saudi newspaper.
The e-paper, he added, is moving forward and its stories have led to public cases being raised.
He denied claims e-papers fabricate news and said they have high credibility.
Saud Al-Refa of Aajel e-paper said that there are many sites that publish false news, but they are not damaging to the public.
Such sites seek the largest number of followers who would republish such information on social media, he said.
He added some e-papers’ are sometimes not published when their owners are absent or busy because their day-to-day running is dependent on them being present.
According to Al-Refa out most e-papers cut and paste news from other sources and do not even credit the source of their stories.
Another Saudi e-paper reader said Abdulaziz Al-Selaim believe e-papers lack the simplest of professional standards and are still in their very first steps of establishing themselves.
‘Most e-papers are nothing but forums in the shape of a newspaper with the exception of a few that are competing with print media,’ he said.
He added most e-papers do come up with their own stories but have personal connections in government bodies that supply them with news.
The Ministry of Culture and Information and the electronic media committee should make training compulsory for employees of e-papers and only issue licenses based on this requirement, he suggested.
Sultan Al-Aydhi, founder of Hail News e-paper, believed the standard of e-papers was good but they still needed a great deal of development.
He said that most have achieved a good level of news publishing but are in need of proofreading.
He denied accusations e-papers published fabricated news and claimed that his site did not publish news without verifying its sources.
He, however, complained some spokesmen of government bodies do not cooperate with e-papers.
He added some e-papers lack the required financial resources to employ specialist proofreaders and other important staff.
The head of the electronic media committee, Mohammad Al-Shaqha, believes e-papers are developing and are competitive.
He added some e-papers are thinking of becoming fully-fledged media establishments and setting up his committee is another sign the sector is developing.
He said e-papers have raised the ceiling of media freedom and contributed to a quicker dissemination of news.
He pointed out the committee has completed its list of professional and technical standards that are expected to greatly improve electronic publishing.
Al-Shaqha noted that although it may be true that some e-papers take their news from published papers without crediting their sources, the opposite is also true.
He added the committee would seek the assistance of legal consultants to preserve the rights of its members.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on 2nd of January, 2014.