The future of traditional journalism in egypt by aLIA hAYTHAM , MALAK EL hennawy and Mariam zaki

The AUSACE (Arab -U.S. Association for Communication Educators) 22nd Annual Conference was hosted by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JRMC) at The American University in Cairo (AUC) from October 21 to October 24. The theme of this year’s conference was “Journalism and Mass Communication in the Age of Instant information.” It was chosen in light of the rapid changes we are seeing in the development of social media. The speakers wanted to explore how people now use their platforms to send influential messages, furthermore they looked at people who are now starting to use social media platforms to create a business through blogs.

Dr. Nadine El Sayed spoke of the rise of the blogosphere during the 2011 Egyptian revolution and its necessity in our community to convey messages that mainstream news outlets cannot. Photo by Malak El Hennawy.

The speakers who spoke from on diverse topics were mainly from AUC they included, Heba ElShahed , Dr. Nadine El Sayed, Reem Gehad along with Dr. Hesham Mesbah Masood Asad. Their talks collectively covered the changes in journalism in Egypt from its peak during the revolution to the ever-changing bans imposed by the government on certain publications.

ElShahed looked at how social media affected the 2014 presidential campaign. Her main focus was on the Spiral of Silence theory which was represented blatantly through Facebook at the time. She touched on how many people would fear posting their opinions due to fear of isolation and criticism.

Reem Gehad who is currently studying for her masters at AUC, discusses her research topic question which discusses the role social media plays when a public ban has been ordered. Photo by Malak el Hennawy.

The rise of the blogosphere and its demise was represented by Nadine El Sayed. She emphasized the importance of bloggers in 2011 during the height of the revolution as they were able to bring an alternative view to the events happening at the time and bring light to topics such as police brutality and mass harassments.

From left to right : speakers Hesham Mesbah Masood Asad , Dr. Nadine El Sayed, Reem Gehad. Photo by Malak El Hennawy.

Blogging empires started to dissolve after the revolution and that was due to the gag orders that Master’s student Reem Gehad introduced through her research topic. Gag orders prohibit bloggers from posting about certain topics that are government related. The gag orders negatively affected bloggers and their content. Bloggers believe that such bans only encourage rumors as news is now easily widespread on social media.

Gag orders were Master student , Reem Gehad main focus throughout her talk. Which highlighted the guidelines Egyptian Authority imposes against the media.Photo by Malak El Hennawy.

Nourhan Tarek , an Integrated Marketing Communication student attended the conference and enjoyed the talk about financial blogging as it took an alternative perspective and discussed different topics aside from the usual blogging topics that are ordinarily addressed in such conferences .

Overall, the conference was helped deliver an overview of the current journalistic scene and how social media has played an impact on journalists and created a new demographic and introduced bloggers to the field..

The audience engaged in Dr. Elshahed's talk about The Spiral of Silence Theory, which held people back from sharing their thoughts and opinions on social media, in fear of being criticized especially during the 2011 revolutions. Photo by Malak El Hennawy.
Dr. Hesham Mesbah Masood Asad spoke of the impact of influencers on people in the Arab World. Photo by Malak El Hennawy.

There was a collective agreement about the uncertainty of the future of social media platforms and the amount of freedom people will continue to have through them, especially with the bans that have been imposed which leaves most journalists questioning the future of traditional journalism.

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