June 3, 2010

Media personalities seek approval for new club

Media personalities seek approval for new club

Abdullah Al Alami briefs Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja on the Club's objectives. (AN photo)


Published: Jun 3, 2010 00:45 Updated: Jun 3, 2010 01:36

ALKHOBAR: A group of prominent media personalities met Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja on Wednesday and presented him a proposal to establish an expanded and comprehensive club that would include everybody related to media and culture.

The group included Undersecretary at the Culture and Information Ministry Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Hazza’a, columnist and academic Dr. Saud Kateb, Jeddah chamber board member Dr. Abdullah Binmahfouz, well known blogger of Mashrabiya fame Abdul Aziz Hamza, economic researcher and writer Abdullah Al-Alami and Saudi Radio’s Dalal Dia.

They discussed the establishment of what will eventually be called the Jeddah Club for Media and Culture. It is to be an independent institution aimed at promoting media and cultural aspects, including print and electronic media, broadcast and audio as platforms for interactive communication.

“The meeting went very well,” Dalal Dia told Arab News. “We explained to the minister how our goals are different from the Saudi Journalists Association. The idea is to bring all those associated with print media, online media, broadcast media on one platform and tackle issues that confront us all.”

Another important aspect the club founders have in mind is the training of young people. “Through this club, we want to conduct training sessions for our young people who are entering the field and who are unaware of the rules and regulations and the code of ethics. We want them to learn from our experience and be better and responsible journalists,” said Dalal Dia.

Al-Alami said the minister promised to study the proposal carefully. “If his review is positive, an endorsement is likely,” he said.

On the club’s proposed name, Al-Alami said it would include people from all over the Kingdom. “’Jeddah’ doesn’t mean it will only have Jeddawis. The Jeddah Club for Media and Culture will be like the Dubai Media Club, whose membership is open to everybody. It is not just a club of mediapersons only from Dubai.”

The idea to form such a club was first floated by journalist Jamal Al-Banoon.

Speaking to Arab News, he explained why such a club was needed. “I agree, we have the Saudi Journalists Association. However, that is not all encompassing. What we have in mind is a club that is open to everybody related to the broad spectrum of media and culture — not just the old media but the new media, as well,” he said and pointed out about there being a lot of journalists writing only for online publications. “A lot of youngsters have become popular only because of blogging, and they are having quite an influence on our society, so they need to be acknowledged. Online publications have carved a niche for themselves and have attracted large followings. There is media dynamism on the Internet. Some of our online writers are more popular than the print media people. So they got to be part of this media club.”

Al-Banoon said like any other club, “our club, too, will be governed by a certain code of conduct and ethics and before we accept anybody as a member, the club founders, which include prominent citizens, will vet the applications, just to ensure that people with good backgrounds become the club members.”

He said the proposal is now with the minister, who seemed very supportive at Wednesday’s meeting. “There is a long way to go, however. All this is still in a very early stage. We will get going once we get the registration and license from the Ministry of Culture and Information.”

Al-Banoon clarified that the club would be open to foreign nationals who are working at the Kingdom’s media organs. It may be noted that Arabic newspapers have a large number of non-Saudi Arab nationals working for them. There are also Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans working in the English and other language media. Then there are correspondents and freelance journalists based here in the Kingdom.

“This club will be open to them, as well,” he said. “We plan to have playwrights, fiction writers, columnists, business writers, business experts, translators, analysts, guest writers, lyricists, poets, scriptwriters, radio broadcasters, television producers, documentary makers, news readers and letter writers — everybody.

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