Poll: Mideast news junkies consume 72 minutes of content daily

High consumption of news comes with desire for stories about more than just ‘bombs and bullets’, AP exec says

Ben Flanagan
Ben Flanagan
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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are nations full of news junkies, with the average consumer glued to their TV screens or papers for more than an hour a day, research has found.

Consumers in the three Middle East markets spend an average of 72 minutes a day consuming news, according to a survey by The Associated Press (AP) and Deloitte – more than in the UK, Germany and Japan.

But while the public may consume more news than in many other markets, there is a demand for more varied media content, said John Daniszewski, the vice president of international news at AP.

“People… want more news about the region that’s not bombs and bullets, not just oil prices,” Daniszewski said. “Everyone in this room knows there’s so much more to life than that. There’s art, there’s architecture, there’s economics, there’s technology…”

While politics remains the most popular news topic, the AP survey found there is high demand for stories about technology and entertainment. About 63 percent said they would like to see more content focusing on positive stories about the Middle East.

Many see video as important, with about 75 percent of respondents saying they are likely to access news stories that include video. About 63 percent said they would watch more news if the quality improved.

Daniszewski was interviewed by Faisal J. Abbas, editor of Al Arabiya News, on stage at the Arab Media Forum, which opened today in Dubai.

He told Abbas that the rise of social media need not mean ‘Doomsday’ for tradition outlets – and could spell a great opportunity if used properly by mainstream journalists.

“It’s really been a game-changer. There is so much more raw material available now for journalists… We see social media as a big opportunity for established news organizations,” he said.

Daniszewski talked about a new product called AP Extra, which he said has launch in the Middle East to cater to a demand for more varied news. The service will supply Arabic text and video from a team of journalists based locally.

After the session, Daniszewski responded to claims that the AP service is sometimes slower to report breaking news than its rivals

“Sometimes we are more cautious on breaking news because we want to authenticate it,” he said. “We’d rather be second than wrong. But I think [the AP Extra] service will put more reporters in the field, so I think it will help the speed.”

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