Interview:  Marwan Kraidy

In what ways is higher education adapting media programmes to address evolving trends?

MARWAN KRAIDY: Liberal arts higher education institutions focus on enduring skills, such as writing and critical thinking, which remain relevant regardless of industry changes. We are quick to adapt to industry developments. However, we recognise that we can never be fast enough. Our approach involves a dual focus: an emphasis on foundational skills and an agile response to industry changes. Media professionals are storytellers, and therefore require diverse sources of inspiration to fuel their imagination and a set of skills to create. Consequently, it is crucial not to view media solely through a technological lens. Media content demands a balance between nurturing creativity, teaching essential skills and adapting to technological advancements.

One notable industry trend is the decline of the traditional journalism business model. Newspapers are reducing staff and attempting to reach a broader audience with content produced by fewer individuals. Amid this changing landscape, emerging business models are still uncertain and the commercialisation of viral content creates a highly competitive environment.

Regardless of the evolving business models, students need to be equipped with legacy skills and an understanding of traditional newsroom operations to succeed as evidence-based storytellers in a world marked by disinformation and the growing role of artificial intelligence. As we redefine our understanding of media, it is critical to nurture high-level content creation and talent with rigorous standards.

How are ethical considerations and challenges associated with media production and consumption being tackled in Qatar and across the region?

KRAIDY: Globally, there are troubling patterns of fake news and misinformation. Educational institutions face challenges in keeping pace with the rapid emergence of new media production technologies that blur the line between real and fake news. While various types of misinformation persist, the prevalence of deep fakes underscores the need for curricula that instil essential skills empowering media professionals to combat misleading content. Our research on misinformation and fake news emphasises the importance of deep and broad thinking about the direction of emerging trends.

What role will Media City play in generating investment, and how can the wider ecosystem leverage this project for future growth?

KRAIDY: The noteworthy aspect of Media City lies in its Silicon Valley-like cluster mindset. Companies are situated side-by-side, fostering a dynamic environment where recruitment and collaboration thrive. This close proximity creates a model of accelerated peer learning, facilitating interaction among companies. The setup also contributes to the high-quality production of talent, with graduates aspiring to secure better jobs and working conditions. The ability to easily transition between firms in such close proximity fosters a vibrant sector and opportunities for individuals to work and collaborate. In essence, Media City acts as an incubator of talent, nurturing and retaining creative professionals.

By what means is Qatar building a sustainable talent pipeline to cope with the rising demand for media professionals in the region?

KRAIDY: The supply and demand for media professionals in Qatar is generally balanced, with many graduates securing jobs soon after graduation. Looking ahead, an opportunity lies in nurturing Arabic language skills among media professionals. This would enable them to participate in opportunities in Qatar as well as in the broader region. With the competitive nature of the regional sector, focusing on Arabic language proficiency becomes crucial. This supportive ecosystem not only allows media professionals to gain experience, but also positions them to contribute to their local market.