Omani, UK journalists debate new challenges

LONDON: Omani and British journalists debated the issues and challenges being faced by journalism with the emergence of the Internet and the social networking sites, at a seminar held at the Omani-British Friendship Association in London. Some speakers presented experiences with renowned media houses such as BBC.
Chris Birkett, chief consultant editor at BCC, Sky News and the Telegraph, said that journalists face a great deal of pressure during their daily work, including determining the type of coverage and demands for more coverage in order to create the desired effect.
He gave an example of British journalist Lora who adopted the government’s attitude on her Twitter account and faced a lot of pressure from those who held contrary views.
Birkett said that before the Internet was invented, newspapers used to gain a lot of revenue by way of subscriptions, but it dropped significantly and this was exactly what happened to the Financial Times.
Britain has a distinctive feature: the TV users pay for the BBC licence and thus the corporation benefits from selling news and reports.
Dr Zahera Harb, Senior Lecturer at City University of London and former journalist, talked about the pressures being faced by journalists especially when covering international news. She said journalists faced a great deal of pressure particularly from the public relations firms, adding that a British survey had found that 700 independent journalists faced pressures because they were not affiliated to journalism establishments.
Nigel Baker, Chief Executive of the Thomson Media Foundation, said that it is too difficult to block comments on the social media sites, especially those comments involving threats to journalists from unknown individuals or entities.
However, it is possible to control posts that contain abusive words. At the end of the seminar, Mubarak al Araimi, Chairman of Omani Journalists Association (OJA), presented the OJA shield to the Omani-British Friendship Association. — ONA