UTAS conference concludes with insightful discussions

Salalah: The two-day virtual international conference that discussed various aspects of communication trends concluded on Wednesday with many insightful recommendations after several sessions of discussions and debates.

It was the first virtual international conference of the University of Technology and Applied Sciences (UTAS) organised by of the Department of Mass Communication Salalah.

Participants from national and international educational institutions from countries like UAE, Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, and India took part in the conference. Seventeen papers were presented on five different themes of Journalism, Public Relations, New Media and Society, Digital Media, and Communication in the Arab World.

Prof Dr Hussni Nasr, a renowned communication scholar from Sultan Qaboos University Muscat, was the keynote speaker for the second day. In his keynote address titled ‘The future of journalism in the age of digital platforms’ Dr Nasser affirmed the possibility of the journalistic profession to exist and thrive alongside the new media. Newspapers need to have strong content and different circulation platforms to address the information needs of a varied audience.

“The only open option for journalists now is to master future skills to remain in the profession,” noted Dr Nasr.

Thought-provoking discussions and insightful recommendations marked the closing day of the conference. Some of the captivating issues on journalism discussed during the presentations were about the online coverage of Muslim refugees by BBC and Al Jazeera, the impact of online media on the print media, and the effect of new media on the principles of factual journalism.

The active engagement of traditional mass media with social media platforms by synergising the values of mass media with the capacities of new media, guided by ethical standards was emphasized during the session.

Creating more awareness and clearing up the misconceptions from the minds of the public of Oman by promoting students to join the PR and advertising industry,

Managing internal communications within the organisation were a few highlights of the discussions under the theme of public relations. The impact of social media on students’ academic performance, integrating social media competencies in the curriculum along with some more topics were reflected upon under the theme of New Media and Society.

Visual storytelling in the digital era, effective online communication, and digital communication in personal banking were some of the areas explored under the theme of digital media theme. The last session of the conference was in Arabic with two paper presentations.

Some initial recommendations that emerged from this conference were discussed towards the end of the final session. Dr Said Jaboob, Dean of UTAS Salalah announced and awarded the best paper award to two papers- ‘The selection of television programmes by Qatari audiences: An interplay between Cultural Capital, Cultural Proximity and the Gulf crisis” authored by Dr Miriam Berg, North-Western University, Qatar; and ‘In the era of media convergence, advertising and PR are still at a developing phase in Oman: Problem and prospects’, co-authored by Dr Sangeeta and Ms Muna al Shahri of the Mass Communication Department, UTAS, Salalah.

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