Complex Made Simple

Qatar-based research in the spotlight at global journalist and mass media conference

Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) led a panel discussion this week in Montreal, Canada at the 2014 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) annual conference. The panel deliberated the findings of the locally-based study conducted across six nations earlier this year by NU-Q, in partnership with Doha Film Institute, on entertainment use in the Middle East.

The AEJMC conference is an annual event for members of the major international organization for academics in the field, featuring sessions and panels on the latest research, teaching methods and public service in the various components of journalism and mass communication.

The panel included leading industry scholar from NU-Q Justin D. Martin, Assistant Professor in Residence, as well as CEO and Dean of NU-Q, Everette E. Dennis. Two additional internationally renowned panel members took part: Shibley Telhami, author of The World Through Arab Eyes and Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, U.S; and Noha Mellor, Professor of Media, at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, author on Arab media and former News Producer for Danish Broadcasting and the BBC World Service.

The discussion covered the study of one of the largest examinations to date of entertainment media use in the Arab world, representing over 6,000 respondents, conducted via face-to-face interviews in nationally representative samples of Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The panel explored entertainment preferences, attitudes toward government regulation of entertainment media, and the role of digital content and social media in entertainment choices.

“We feel privileged to be part of this prestigious event and to provide an opportunity to discuss an important study, as the first of its kind in the Middle East region, with such a diverse audience of leading international journalist and mass communication professionals. As scholars and educators in Qatar, we strive to bring the story of the Middle East to the wider world and this research provides a base of knowledge for executives across all sectors, including entertainment, sport, and children’s programming,” comments Dennis of Northwestern University in Qatar.

The overall findings from the massive, pan-Arab study show high region-wide concern about cultural preservation and support for media regulation, but also a general embrace of international content. The survey revealed 65% of residents in six Arab countries want more content portraying their own culture and history, while an equal number (66%) say people benefit from watching content from different parts of the world. Over 70% region-wide want greater regulation of romantic and violent content.

In addition to presenting the ‘Entertainment Media Use in the Middle East’ six-nation survey, Klaus Schoenbach, Associate Dean for Research, Susan Dunn, Senior Lecturer, Liz Lance, Research Administrator at NU-Q, Janet Key, Assistant Professor and Amy Sanders, Associate Professor also presented at AEJMC on the topics of ‘Intermedia Agenda-setting in a Multimedia Environment,’ ‘Digital Advantage,’ ‘Qatar on the World Stage,’ ‘The Challenges of Scholastic Journalism in International Settings,’ and ‘Academic Freedom and Social Media’ respectively.

The presence of NU-Q showcasing Qatar-based research at internationally renowned AEJMC follows on NU-Q winning two significant National Priorities Research Program grants through the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) in recent months, totalling more than US $1.5 million. This significant investment enables NU-Q to continue to develop its institutional research program, based on university-wide projects and collaborations with other research institutions, ensuring NU-Q and Qatar are able to continue to lead and initiate international conversations.