Rapid changes in Arab world forced new view of media
Rapid changes in the world, particularly in the Arab world, have forced a new view of the media and a reconsideration of their traditional purposes and their modern objectives, Bahrain’s top information official has said.
“Currently no country, no matter how its military, political, economic or cultural weight is, can ignore the crucial and critical role of the media both within society and in interactions with the other countries or communities,” Sameera Rajab, the state minister for communication and the official spokesperson for the government, said.
“The technology of information has developed so fast and so tremendously in the last few years that countries that fail to keep pace or are not open to accommodate such changes become easy targets for international media powerhouses that use smart means and immense potential. Countries find it increasingly difficult today to differentiate between agenda-driven information and people’s rights to obtaining objective information and news and to exercise their freedom of opinion and expression,” she said as she opened the Media, Communication and National Security forum in the Bahraini capital Manama.
The first pan-Gulf media forum is scheduled to last two days and will include a special session that brings together the six information ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who convene for a meeting in Manama on Tuesday.
Gulf countries should draw on their resources and potential to create new spaces to exchange views on the media available and their various dimensions, both positive and negative, she said.
“We need greater awareness about the new changes in the media and the new tools used by the media within strategic objectives, some of which are known and some of which are unknown, that serve political interests that are not even remotely associated with the traditional role of promoting social or intellectual values,” Sameera said.
The minister added that people need to appreciate that the relative order and clear criteria and standards followed by traditional media have been replaced by new and chaotic perimeters.
“This chaotic and controversial situation creates a new world raises several serious questions about the role of the media in any society and the possibility that the flow of information can be transformed, in an amoral way, into new weapons and tools that may be used to undermine the concept of statehood. States have already been losing parts of their sovereignty and independence under the onslaught of cultural and economic globalisation. We may in such a case believe that a state needs to address its media security with the same force as its military security,” she said.
Madhi Al Khamees, secretary-general of the Arab Media Forum, said in his speech that the media now hold a highly crucial position in any society.
“The media today cannot be underestimated or ignored in any way,” he said. “They either move with the society or move the society.”