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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Five things you missed at the Doha News meetup


All photos by Lance Cenar

Hundreds of people turned up to support Doha News at our fifth annual meetup yesterday.

If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed (besides yummy food from the Shangri La):

1. Comment policy clarification

During the Q&A, audience members asked DN where we draw the line when it comes to free speech and hate speech, given some commenters’ penchant for rude remarks.

Our response: Free speech is being able to say what you want without being arrested by the government.

DN has a comment policy, and it is not censorship to delete unproductive remarks that attack, stereotype or hurt other people.

We have chosen to be strict with our policy because the comments section is one of the few places people from all backgrounds in Qatar have a chance to interact, discuss/debate issues and find common ground – or at least agree to disagree.

2. Sponsored content

As an additional revenue stream, Doha News recently began running sponsored content on our website.

This takes the the form of articles that are clearly marked as paid for by advertisers, in collaboration with our marketing department.

Sponsored content example
Sponsored content example

Sponsored content is produced without any input from editorial staff. Additionally, we package these pieces separately from our daily content.

This is to make clear that no money – or other benefits – are ever exchanged for articles written by our editorial team.

3. Membership program

Another way Doha News is attempting sustainability is through our membership program. For QR300 a year, DN members are eligible for a number of discounts, giveaways and other benefits.

In recent months, we’ve given our members free tickets to Iconic Events concerts including UB40, DJ Tiesto, Lost Frequencies and The Proclaimers.

Surfing at Aqua Park Qatar
Surfing at Aqua Park Qatar

Members have also received free access to The Backyard at the Sheraton Hotel, and the Aqua Park.

We also host members’ coffees and chat directly with readers on our private online forum. The latest offer has been free access to the UrbanPoint voucher app for a year.

More on memberships and how to sign up can be found here.

4. Labor law changes

DN was asked about what hot topics will be on everyone’s minds in the coming year. Our answer: the changes to the kafala law that are expected to take effect in December will likely have a big impact on all of us.

The new law governing the entry and exit of expats is supposed to make it easier for some foreigners to leave the country and change jobs.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But as the government begins educating various stakeholders about what’s coming up, there remain several unanswered questions.

We hope to find and report on answers in the coming month, and plan to closely follow how the law is implemented in December and beyond.

5. Challenges

Yes, the new cyber crime law makes it harder for us as journalists to do our jobs when it comes to reporting the truth.

However, when asked whether it stops us from publishing accident photos, we explained to audience members that basic decency is usually what actually gives us pause.

It is DN policy not to publish gruesome pictures of injured or deceased people. In this same vein, we also generally do not cover suicides unless they happen in a public place or involve a person of public interest.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Finally, in response to questions about fact-checking, DN explained that we have a two-source policy, meaning that we almost always confirm news with two separate individuals or entities before publishing something.

This ensures accuracy, but also means a lot of stories get relegated to the “purgatory” pile, as one of our biggest challenges in Qatar remains getting official sources to comment and/or confirm news.

Did you attend yesterday’s meetup? Thoughts?

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