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JustHere | March 27, 2017

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Here’s a reader’s verdict on Qatari newspapers

Here’s a reader’s verdict on Qatari newspapers

JustHere asked newspaper naysayer Mohamed Refaat to make a habit of reading the seven newspapers in Doha for one continuous week and give his verdict. Here’s what he has to say.

I don’t read newspapers, never did; never will, except for the occasional skimming here and there in cafeterias and waiting rooms. And for precisely this reason I was chosen to be the test subject of a week-long experimental journey into Qatar’s newspapers. Conveniently, it turns out that Qatar does in fact have exactly seven major newspapers (Arabic and English.) So, after dozens of pages, articles and editorials, here’s what I found.

The first thing that hits you in Qatar’s newspapers, specially the Arabic language ones, is that adverts take up huge spaces, so do photographs. In many cases they are occupying more space on the page than the news itself, which made me wonder if there just wasn’t enough news to fill the papers. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time advertisements were more useful than the news itself. For example, who would’ve known that IKEA has a shawerma+soft drink combo for just QR8, INCLUDING REFILLS!

English language papers in general had more relevant news for its readers than Arabic ones that were mainly dominated by news that served as propaganda for local and multinational businesses more than anything else.

 

Another thing that caught my attention was how each paper was divided. Some papers, like the Gulf Times, have a very efficient way of dividing their papers into sections according to countries and regions, making it much easier for readers to jump to the sections that are most relevant to them, especially when they want to read news of their home countries. However, another paper, Qatar Tribune, had a very interesting choice of words for the pages in its SPORTS supplement. One page was called THE FIELD, the other THE TURF; the difference between which I did not understand. Another page displaying news about racing and archery was called THE DOMAIN??

Regarding sports sections, there was a clear-cut difference between Arabic and English papers. The Arabic ones were focused only on football, the English on cricket.

English language papers in general had more relevant news for its readers than Arabic ones that were mainly dominated by news that served as propaganda for local and multinational businesses more than anything else.

International news can be summed up in the following: too many people are hungry; too many people are fighting, economic crises everywhere, and protests all over the world. Oh, and Obama visited Ramallah and Tel Aviv.

In the end it was very obvious how challenging it is to make newspapers in such a diverse community as the one we have in Qatar, where you need to cater to the interests of all groups, each of which has a different interest in the country we live in and different countries back home to check on. But if you ask me, the papers with the most relevant news and the least excess fat were the Gulf Times (English) and Al Raya (Arabic), and if you are bilingual, reading both would give you a well rounded view of what’s going on in Qatar.

As enjoyable as this journey was, with all its articles, editorials and advertisements, I think I will keep my newspaper reading to cafeterias and waiting rooms but I’ll probably pay more attention than just skimming from now on.

(Would you like to do a review of local media? Email editorial@justhere.qa)

Copyright © 2013 JustHere Qatar. Reproduction of material from any JustHere Qatar pages without written permission is strictly prohibited.

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