Jennifer Gibson goes freelance

Jennifer Gibson, former Editor of good magazine, part of Motivate Publishing has gone freelance. Having joined Motivate in 2016, Jennifer has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has worked on as well as contributed to a number of titles including VIVA, Hello! Middle East, What’s On Dubai, Emirates Man, Emirates Woman, Jumeirah, The National, The Telegraph and Gulf News. She also worked in broadcasting as News Presenter and Commentator on Dubai 92 as well as Dubai Eye. Following her relocation to the UK, she will continue to work across publications in the UAE and UK as a freelance Editor.

“It has been an honour to edit good magazine since August 2016, to work with an incredible team of brilliant people and to meet so many of the innovators, entrepreneurs, environmental activists and charity campaigners who are doing so much to take community life here in Dubai forward,” says Jennifer. “The time has come for us to make a move to be closer to our families, but I look forward to continuing to work with so many of the brilliant editors and journalists I’ve met during my time here – and to the opportunities my continuing work here will allow for lots of visits to escape the Scottish weather!”

BNC Publishing makes new appointment

Dubai-based publishing agency, BNC Publishing has appointed Mahak Mannan to the role of Editor of Catering News Middle East. With over six years of experience in the publishing industry, Mahak previously worked with 7DAYS as News and Features Writer and The National as News Reporter. She most recently took on the role of PR Manager at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre. In her new role, she will cover everything related to the F&B industry and oversee the end-to-end content as well as design of the magazine. She will also assist with organising the magazine’s two annual events – The Big F&B Forum and Leaders in F&B Awards.

“The F&B and hospitality industry in the UAE is at a very strong point right now with a lot to explore and I look forward to working on a title that highlights the best of the industry,” says Mahak. “The combination of my past experience in publishing and hospitality will certainly benefit as I start my new role as Editor for Catering News ME.”

The National appoints new Senior Business Correspondent

Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National has appointed Sarah Townsend to the role of Senior Business Correspondent. Sarah most recently worked at Arabian Business, part of ITP Media Group and previously worked in the UK on a number of business publications including, Property Week, Third Sector, Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph. In her new role, she will join the business desk and focus on topics related to the aviation, law and real estate industries as well as assist the team with other projects when required.

“I am really excited to join The National’s business desk at a time when the newspaper has recently relaunched and is expanding with new journalists and more global coverage,” says Sarah. “I look forward to developing in the new role.”

ASDA’A appoints new Managing Director

Middle East-based PR agency ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller has appointed Hassan Fattah to the role of Managing Director. With a wealth of experience in media and communications, Hassan previously worked with The National as Editor-in-Chief and most recently with Brunswick Group as a partner. In his new role, he will provide the senior counsel to regional corporate and government clients, while driving the firm’s new business and organic growth in the GCC and wider Middle East.

“I’m delighted to be joining ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller at a very exciting time for the firm and for communications in the region,” says Hassan. “ASDA’A brings deep insight and understanding of the Middle East’s political, business and cultural dynamics. That depth of knowledge, together with the firm’s scale, regional network, and seasoned team make for an unbeatable combination in the growing market for communications.”

FourFourTwo Arabia welcomes new Editor

Newly launched football magazine, FourFourTwo Arabia has appointed Ali Khaled to the role of Editor. Ali previously worked with 7DAYS as Managing Editor and with The National as Senior Sports Columnist after which he most recently worked as a freelance writer. In his new role, he will oversee the editorial content of FourFourTwo Arabia and develop an engaging digital presence as well as concise content strategies for the growth of the magazine across the region.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to edit FourFourTwo Arabia, and look forward to reaching a wide football audience in the Middle East and beyond,” says Ali. “There is a real opportunity to produce strong stories from the Middle East in a fresh, modern way, as well as continuing to cover the global game in the way that the FourFourTwo brand has become known for.”

The National relaunches in the UAE

Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National has relaunched in the UAE following its acquisition by International Media Investments (IMI). The revamped newspaper takes on a new logo and a complete enhancement of its print and digital platforms as well as a focus on its digital content to include daily video content podcasts, live and interactive video interviews, and news across its social media platforms. The National will be available six days a week and will include a new 20-page weekend free supplement showcasing the newspaper’s coverage of arts and culture in the UAE as well as a London Bureau led by Damien McElroy as a Correspondent to ensure the coverage of round-the-clock relevant news. The newspaper will also feature a host of influential commentators across the fields of diplomacy, politics and finance as well as expanded sports and business news.

The new launch includes the appointment of Dan Gledhill to the role of Deputy Editor-in-Chief. Dan brings with him over 20 years of experience in journalism having worked at The Independent and The Daily Mail. In his new role, he will work alongside the Editor-in-Chief, Mina Al Oraibi to oversee the print and digital platforms of the newspaper.

Also joining the new team is Dan Owen, taking on the role of Head of Digital Strategy. Dan previously worked with Trinity Mirror and most recently with Seven Media. In his new role, he will head the digital department and lead the digital transformation of the The National.

The National will have three objectives, create influential and intellectually challenging content, bring the UAE and Abu Dhabi’s perspective to the world, and lead in the region and internationally as a modern and digitally led newsroom,” says Mina Al-Oraibi, Editor-in-Chief, The National. “In short, The National will be your window to and from the Middle East.”

New Editor-in-Chief at The National

UAE-based newspaper, The National, recently acquired by International Media Investments (IMI) has appointed Mina Al Oraibi to the role of Editor-in-Chief starting July 1, 2017. Mina previously worked with Saudi Arabian newspaper, Asharq AlAwsat in the UK as Assistant Editor-in-Chief and in the US as Washington DC Bureau Chief, and most recently with the Institute for State Effectiveness in the UK as Senior Fellow, where she led the institute’s Middle East discourse program. In her new role, she will lead The National team and contribute to the newspaper’s brand development, both print and online across the region.

Major restructuring at The National

Following the announcement of International Media Investments (IMI) acquiring ownership of The National in November 2016, the title will commence operations from its new headquarters, in TwoFour54, on July 1, 2017. While the transition aims to increase emphasis on the publication’s digital presence, it has resulted in major job losses across the board, according to unconfirmed sources. Exiting staff members will be working until the end of June 2017.

It’s not the boogieman, it’s self-censorship

Michael Jabri-Pickett, former Head of Digital Operations at The National, talks to TMN about self-censorship in the media industry and how it can effectively be tackled in the UAE…

“Censorship may come in many forms, but what disappoints most people when the subject is discussed is that there is no grim-faced man walking around the newsroom with a red pen reading over reporters’ shoulders pointing nervously at computer screens or gesticulating at an editor’s page proof demanding a story be cut or killed. What happens is much more subtle. What happens is self-censorship.”

The first question I was invariably asked when anyone learnt I was a Journalist at a newspaper in the UAE was a simple one, “How do you deal with all the censorship?” my response was straightforward, “there is no censorship, or at least none we would think of as what traditional censorship – whatever that looks like – might entail.” Anyone who has read any UAE-based news website for more than a few weeks will laugh at my denial, but truth is – as Lord Byron wrote, “stranger than fiction.”

Censorship may come in many forms, but what disappoints most people when the subject is discussed is that there is no grim-faced man walking around the newsroom with a red pen reading over reporters’ shoulders pointing nervously at computer screens or gesticulating at an editor’s page proof demanding a story be cut or killed. What happens is much more subtle. What happens is self-censorship.

Decades ago, my journalism world was black and white, but I failed to understand the desperately needed nuanced approach essential to survive in a newsroom. Papers are closing, financial resources are evaporating and staff layoffs are constantly happening. If you are a journalist in 2017, finding a way to keep the job you love is an increasingly difficult challenge.

All of which means there are reasons why self-censorship exists. It is not that the boogieman is hiding in plain sight – it is the nervous, gentle soul holding out hope that the profession he has cared so much for will somehow improve. You may believe self-censorship is never right, but you must concede there are legitimate reasons why it exists. The editing process at a newspaper is without mystery, I think. Once a reporter has written his story, it will be edited and edited again and proofread and proofread again. There are several pairs of eyes that look critically at a story before it is published.

Imagine this, a veteran journalist with eight years reporting experience in Dubai puts together a story. He has ten points he wants to include in his article. The reporter knows before he writes a word that two of his points will never be allowed to remain, so he doesn’t even include them. Then the first editor to see the copy takes out another two, the next editor removes one, a proofreader drops one more point because he just isn’t sure and doesn’t want to ask anyone and the next pair of eyes in the chain nixes another one simply because he wants to do his job with a certain amount of zeal. A great story with ten points is published with three. Not a proud moment, but a regular occurrence.

Some might claim I have failed to point out that the reporter and the editors in this hypothetical scenario are simply using their knowledge gained from years of experience in the region. This unfortunately is the standard response intended to silence critics. I will acknowledge that on some occasions certain stories should not be published, but I came across too few colleagues who were willing to discuss the issues.

Newspaper journalists in the UAE know their industry is dying. Many senior newspaper journalists in the UAE know this is quite possibly their last chance to do a job they love in a country that is safe and prosperous. No one wants to leave, so the temptation is to protect what they see as the interests of the UAE. As a result, a newspaper journalist will remove from a story anything that he thinks might not help the country. He will act on his own.

It is human nature to protect your job and self-censorship may be self-preservation. What goes against the fibres in a journalist’s being, however, is the absence of a debate. Discussion leads to ideas and thoughts inspire change. This is how we avoid self-censorship, and I believe this is how we move forward.

Arab News welcomes new Columnist

Saudi Arabian daily newspaper, Arab News has welcomed Frank Kane to the role of Columnist. With over 25 years of experience in business journalism in the UK, Frank has worked across various titles including The Financial Times, The Telegraph and Sunday Times and most recently in the UAE as Senior Business Correspondent at The National. In his new role, he will write a bi-weekly column on regional business affairs that will be published on Mondays and Thursdays on the Arab News portal.

“I am happy to have Frank Kane join Arab News as a regular columnist,” says Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief, Arab News. “He brings experience and an informed opinion.”