Dubai: It has brought down regimes, been used as a weapon by politicians, polarised and galvanised countries. Social media, the heart of the modern-day information ecosystem, has been alternatively called a place for mobs and a tool for freedom of expression. Any which way you look at it, there is no denying its power.
But, like all things — Face-book, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and all its other avatars — depends on who uses it and to what end. It can and has done good.
We, as Gulf News, have in many ways pioneered it as a channel to bring ethical journalism to its readers in the UAE — from the first news-driven Facebook Lives, multi-channel storytelling, Twitter newsbreaks, IGTV newscasts to backstory explainer videos created specifically for social consumption under The Storytellers brand.
We’ve promoted transparency on all our social channels. At no point is our reader misguided by anything — our content is crowd sourcing married to authentic reporting. We are here to be the voice of the people in the UAE — our 4+ million monthly combined unique users on social media are a testimony to that.”
For publishers and media houses, social media has been a mixed bag of tricks. There is a massive audience on it — billions — but it’s no free lunch.
The channels control revenue and content visibility based on algorithms that have flummoxed many, be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This has coerced some publishers to opt for cheap tricks such as clickbait headlines, steal online stories and post pictures of people with their heads cut off. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.
It is hard to stick to the straight and narrow, refusing to succumb to the buffeting of referral traffic numbers. But, Gulf News and each of its social media platforms has stayed true, so growth has been at a slow and steady pace.
We’ve promoted transparency in all our social policies, right from posting commercial content that is clearly labelled to engaging with our readers on each of their feedback. At no point is our reader misguided by anything — our rise is not based on crowd pleasing but on crowd sourcing married to authentic, old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting.
We are not in the business of news, because journalism is about service, about being the voice for truth, and about ensuring that injustice does not succeed.
We are here to be the voice of the people and for the people of the UAE — our 4+ million monthly combined unique users on social media are a testimony to that.
And now we have the game changer in this race to excellence -— a brand new, responsive website, that is even more social media friendly.
Sharing content is easier than saying ‘abracadabra’, which means, as always Gulf News knows where its readers are and what they need. Happy sharing and don’t forget #GulfNews.