Educational institutions offering degree programmes in journalism and media studies need to upgrade their curricula if they want to develop real Emirati talent for the country’s growing media landscape, senior officials and experts said at the first Emirati Media Forum in Dubai.
However, media organizations, academic institutions and government bodies need to work together to offer both academic and on-the-job training to groom the young UAE nationals so that they could become good journalists.
“There are a number of issues that need to be addressed in order to increase the number of Emiratis in the media,” said Aisha Sultan, Emirati author and a columnist with Al Bayan newspaper.
“Emiratisation is one of them. But what are we Emiratising? The editorial job or the technical ones? Media is a working environment that is constantly changing and we need to move along with the changing times.”
The academic curricula remained more or less the same over the last few decades – at a time when the global media landscape has changed with online and social media dominating people’s lives.
“How can media organizations develop talents when the universities don’t do their bit? Training is very important, so is mentoring. We need to ensure professional on-job training is part of the curricula.”
Mohammed Al Hammadi, Editor of Al Ittihad Newspaper, said there is a lack of information when it comes to the number of practicing journalist working in the country. “We do not know the number of journalists working in the UAE, neither do we have any information on the number of Emiratis working in the media sector,” he said. “Journalism is not a job. It’s a passion. One should have it in him or her.”
He said, in order to revamp the sector and develop local talent, the country should first change the 30-year-old media law.
“Media laws are important to reshape the sector. However, how could you reshape the sector with a 30-year-old law? A lot of things have changed since the last Media Law was formulated,” he said.
Raed Barqawi, Managing Editor of Al Khaleej newspaper, said, most young Emirati graduates are hasty, impatient. “They want to do everything in a haste. Right after graduation, they rush to the media organizations for two objectives: make money and to become famous – very fast,” he says.
“They should be taught that journalism is not a job, it’s a profession. One should have it in him and one has to strive for it by working hard. You cannot become a journalist overnight. You need professional training, mentoring and patience before you can become a journalist and it takes time.”