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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Is Qatar media free? Two local institutions aim to find out

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In hopes of bolstering the quality of journalism in Qatar, two institutions have announced plans to evaluate the local media landscape.

The first is being conducted by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, which is teaming up with UNESCO to explore how well supported independent media is in the country. The second will be done by Northwestern University in Qatar at the request of Sheikha Mayassa.

Both come as Qatar awaits the issuing of a new media law, which has not been updated since 1979. Despite questions on how much media freedom the bill would actually guarantee, it was recently approved by the Advisory Council and is expected to be implemented this month.

DCMF

To conduct its research, DCMF will rely on internationally-set indicators that have been used to assess media in Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia, among other countries.

The study, which will address the availability of public, private and community media and whether the media reflects the diversity of society here, will commence in December and last four months.

“The recommendations will allow people working in the field of media development to improve the media quality in Qatar,” said Roos Meertens, the center’s senior coordinator of research.

The results will be published and presented during a conference to policy makers, officials and media professionals, she added in a DCMF article on the subject.

NU-Q

NU-Q, whose students have complained about experiencing harassment while reporting here, will explore similar questions, as well as explore a business angle.

 Dean Everette Dennis told Qatar Tribune:

We will… consider what will make the Qatari media stronger? I believe that a strong media sector is part of Qatar’s knowledge-based economy.” According to Dennis, there is a plan to hold a media forum, where officials from various media houses in the country could come together.

“The media sector is now in place. Some sections of the sector are profitable and very robust while others are more subsidised and do not have profit-making orientation. Media can be a highly profitable enterprise as we see in the film industry, which is fast developing in Qatar. This is the time to take advantage and make things happen in the media industry.

What do you think of Qatar’s media landscape?

Credit: Photo by Matt Hintsa

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