Wednesday 22 March 2023 - 1:41:23 am

GMC Media Future Labs: A timely initiative to brainstorm industry’s challenges, opportunities

ABU DHABI, 16th January 2023 (WAM) -- Media Future Labs, a series of invite-only breakout sessions as part of recently held Global Media Congress (GMC) in Abu Dhabi, were a timely initiative to brainstorm the media industry’s challenges and opportunities, according to a globally-known journalist and media consultant.

“I participated in several of these sessions and was delighted to see so many deeply entrenched prejudices and opinions challenged and debated. There are no easy answers,” said Jonathan Clayton, who has been a foreign correspondent, media advisor, and editorial consultant on Africa, the Middle East and Europe for more than 40 years. He previously served as Africa correspondent for The Times of London.

He made these remarks while detailing his experiences of attending the Media Future Labs at the GMC in an op-ed.

Here is the full-version of the op-ed: -

A few days before the 2022 World Cup kicked off, I found myself at another first in the Gulf, an international media conference in Abu Dhabi.

Held under the auspices of the Emirates News Agency (WAM), the Global Media Congress brought together some 10,000 media experts, politicians, commentators, VIPs and private sector representatives to debate the myriad of issues shaping the rapidly changing world of modern communications, news and journalism.

The Congress, held at the state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), tackled themes such as digital communication, AI, advanced technology and their impact on mainstream and new media outlets and the changing landscape of news reporting.

The timing was perfect. Controversial issues, such as fake news and misinformation, highlighted by Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter during the November 2022 event and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, are seemingly never out of the headlines.

These and other subjects, like training, and ownership, were further debated in a lively series of invite-only breakout sessions, called Media Future Labs. These roundtables, held under Chatham House rules and moderated by seasoned media figures, brought together industry executives, policymakers, academics from North and South to seek common ground. Leading Indian journalists passionately called on their colleagues to “rediscover their souls”.

“The sessions saw a no-holds barred and honest discussion on the various challenges confronting the media sector, with a focus on how to take the industry forward and ensure its bright future. We made sure the participants in the Labs represented as diverse a range of media expertise as possible,” said Mohammed Jalal Al Rayssi, Director-General of the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

Underlining the region’s growing importance as the nexus between two, often very different approaches, media houses from India, Africa, South America, China, and even Russia, and the Middle East were all present along with the Arabic outlets of CNN and Sky.

Oliver Rolofs, a German security expert, said the conference succeeded admirably in its aims of connecting north and south to discuss the future of the media and related issues, but urged greater European engagement with the Gulf region which is so critical to current and future energy needs.

He said that if the Congress became an annual event, he would like to see a larger involvement and presence of leading Western media organisations.

“We Europeans should turn more to the Arab world, which is not only becoming an increasingly important partner for us, but also provides us with formats like the Global Media Congress, an important platform to revive and strengthen the dialogue between the Global North and the Global South,” said Rolofs, the former Head of Communications at the Munich Security Conference.

Drawing on the arguments and themes of the three-day event, the organisers will shortly publish a unique White Paper to serve as a ‘state-of-the-industry’ document and reference point for media innovators and leaders worldwide. It will be available to the general public and presented at a launch event in partnership with an international think-tank.

Binsal Abdulkader/ Amjad Saleh