The Director of News and Current Affairs at Al Arabiya News Channel, Nakhle el Hage (left) and television host and author, Rima Karaki, at the NU-Q Arab Media symposium.
DOHA: A white paper from Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) yesterday, urged academics and practitioners to shrug off the bureaucratic restrictions and outdated practices that have arrested the development of Arab media’s teaching curriculum and research agenda for decades.
Titled ‘From Media Revolution to Street Revolution: Twenty years of Arab Commercial Satellite Television,’ the white paper is the result of a symposium the communications and journalism school hosted recently at its Doha campus.
The symposium brought together media scholars and professionals from the UK, France, US, Qatar and Jordan to explore innovative vistas for teaching and researching Arab media.
Against the backdrop of revolutions sweeping the Middle East, the white paper examines ongoing changes in the region’s media environment, the role of media education, and what implications the current uprisings have on research, twenty years after the start of commercial satellite television in the Arab world.
The white paper notes that in spite of the dynamism of Arab television industries, teaching and researching of Arab media are often restricted by bureaucracies and obsolete practices.
The document highlights three specific areas of concern when it comes to teaching and researching Arab media: the disconnect between academic institutions and professional media organisations, the prevalence of premature analyses that often dominate the discourse on Arab media, and the narrow scope and lack of historical perspective that typically characterise research and education on Arabic language media.
“Structures of partnership and collaboration have to be established and encouraged. These must benefit from international frameworks and indigenous experiences,” suggests the paper, while adding that any cooperation must also include the actual media stakeholders: academics and practitioners, journalists and filmmakers, artists and writers.
Emphasising the importance of historical records for future generations of academics, the white paper points out that “with 50 years of national television and 20 years of commercial satellite television, there is an urgent need to consider archiving media artefacts both mainstream and alternative.”
“This is the start of a debate on Arab media’s teaching curriculum and research agenda and is an area where the roles of educational institutions and media industries become so important,” says Joe Khalil, a visiting professor at NU-Q and expert on Arab television production and programming who convened the symposium. The Peninsula