[UPDATED] NU-Q Arab Media Use Study made exceptions for Qatar
Northwestern University-Qatar’s much publicised Arab Media Use Study, that covered eight countries in the region, made exceptions for Qatar in its survey methodology, according to a recent report in Northwestern Chronicle.
Reporter Charles Rollet writes:
“It was meant to objectively report how people in the Arab world use and judge the media they consume, and was first presented in The Atlantic.
“But a close look at the study, which was co-authored by (NU-Q Dean & CEO Everette) Dennis and covered 8 Arab countries (including Qatar), calls into question how independently research can truly be conducted in Qatar.
“One section, titled State of the Nation, was meant to explore “general sentiment in each nation regarding optimism/pessimism about the direction of the country (right direction/ wrong track) and one’s own future.
“But this politically sensitive part of the survey, which was included for all of the survey’s other countries (including politically repressive ones such as Saudi Arabia), was not asked in Qatar “at the request of the Qatar Statistics Authority”.
The article, titled In Doha, a “Climate of Fear” also speaks in great detail about the ‘power struggles’ and ‘faculty politics’ within the Qatar campus and the diminishing focus on journalism.
“I think the focus on journalism careers is not there anymore,” according to Shabina Khatri, the executive editor of Doha News, who was quoted in the article
She also says that the current dean has a different take than the founding members and has transformed the school into a more formal, less friendly and more businesslike environment. Khatri, a former adjunct lecturer at NU-Q added that she was “not sure if that change was necessary for the university’s survival at QF [the Qatar Foundation, NU-Q’s backer].”
The entire article can be read here.
The state of media freedom in Qatar has been widely criticised in the past. In December the Director of Doha Centre for Media Freedom was fired. Earlier this month a draft cyber crime law got the cabinet nod, and this is expected to come down heavily on opinions expressed online.
Meanwhile, jailed Qatari poet Mohammed Al Ajami is serving a 15-year term for criticising Gulf governments.
“The changes to the survey questions required by the Qatar Statistics Authority were noted in NU-Q’s report of findings published almost a year ago. In the interest of transparency and academic integrity, we presented the adapted questions on our survey website (menamediasurvey.northwestern.edu) and have discussed them at many public meetings and conferences since.
We stand by the survey and its results. Similarly, we respect local policies and customs. Understanding how these interact with a new era of communications was a main drive behind this research. This interaction is changing rapidly across the Arab world, and we look forward to making further contributions to the understanding of the media in this region,” commented Everette E. Dennis, Dean and CEO of NU-Q.
Editor’s Note: The above copy has been edited since it was first published. We had earlier misstated the poet’s first name. We regret the error.
The copy has been updated to also include a comment from the Dean of NUQ.