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Tribune News Network
AL Jazeera Media Network's two-day 'Future of Media Leaders' Summit' concluded in Doha on Thursday with focus on the changing relationship between mainstream media and their audiences with the advent of social media.
Keynote speaker Mohammed Nanabhai, Deputy CEO at Media Development Investment Fund, outlined how quickly the way news organisations and their audiences interact have changed. He reminded attendees that as recently as 20 years ago, information moved in one direction, from media providers to consumers. Since then, however, the flow has become increasingly back-and-forth.
"People on social media are now the first one to cover events such as protests, and that in turn drives media coverage. That coverage then drives people to take part in these events, which creates even more coverage on social media. It becomes a cycle," Nanabhai said.
He noted several contradictions that social media has created for the media industry."For example, organisations have lost their direct link to their audiences, but are paradoxically able to engage more with them. While new narratives and voices are emerging that were once overlooked, at the same time censorship by state actors is also on the rise", he said.
Held under the patronage of AJMN's Chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al Thani, the summit, which is the first of its kind in the region, featured prominent figures and leaders of the world's top broadcasting and media organisations to discuss innovation and transformation strategies in the face of digital disruption.
Al Jazeera Executive Director Dr Yaser Bisher also addressed the changing relationship between media and audience in his presentation about Al Jazeera's digital strategy. He outlined the major challenges Al Jazeera faces in a social media-driven world, including shortened attention spans, fragmentation of audiences, and the sheer volume of content being created.
Bisher urged attendees to focus on user experience, using the Apple iPhone as an example."The iPhone experience doesn't begin when one turns the phone on. Instead, it begins from the very idea of being a part of what is perceived as a separate group ” iPhone owners ” and that experience is reinforced by Apple's stores and buying experience."
He added,"Put your content in a unique user experience."Understand the triggers that lead your users to go where they do for the information they are seeking. That is where the user experience starts, not when they open the app."
As media organisations become more connected to their audience, the opportunities for hostile actors to take advantage of that connectivity increase as well, said Haroon Meer, founder of South African firm Thinkst Applied Research.
"The threat is real. Broadcast has been protected almost by accident because you have been hidden on an island, and you're not anymore. You will be breached. The question is, how will you react?", Meer said.
In his presentation, Ken Morse, Media CIO at Cisco Systems, said that media distribution was going through a renaissance.
Closing the Summit, Dr Mostefa Souag, Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network, said,"This conference represents a unique opportunity for TV and digital media professionals in our region to discuss ideas related to the latest technologies relevant to their work, and to learn about the latest technological innovations in television broadcasting, digital media platforms, cloud storage, data security and content dissemination.
"We hope that it has contributed to a clearer picture of the future of the media and the expected changes in the nature of our work, so that we can prepare to keep pace with this development and make maximum use of it."
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