Year 2008, world economy was on a downswing, journalists around the world were digging into the cause of investment bank Lehman Brothers’ fall, but in a quiet corner in Dubai, my digital journey with Gulf News was on the upswing.
The strict evening deadlines of print edition changed to deadlines now. The one-hour editing window of print soon shrank, and along came the mantra: ‘You have 5 minutes to publish’. And, my complete transformation from print to online journalism began.
To check, verify and publish breaking news and government announcements became a rewarding, but taxing task. Reader habits and interests started to dictate story selection and presentation. Feedback was instantaneous. Tools to measure how, where, when and what news are being consumed, made article selection both easy and difficult. For, finding the right balance of popular and important stories come with experience and help from team mates, which no data analytics tool can provide.
Time passed, print to web became web first. News consumption patterns changed. Print readership around the world dwindled. Online readers zoomed. Digital world took hold in this new world, from banking, entertainment, shopping to disseminating information. Gulf News paved the way for me into this changing journalistic platform.
Time present: world recovered from one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression, conflicts, deaths and chaos came and went. Then in the beginning of 2020 came COVID-19 pandemic with death, sickness and fear to shatter the way human beings lived. Right information became a casualty at times. Reporting verified news and quashing fake news appearing on social media platforms and namesake websites became a challenge. When readers are your priority and credibility the benchmark, the task becomes even more demanding. The adrenalin rush in publishing verified news first and retaining reader loyalty is the biggest reward.
Change is the most important and only constant in this new-age news platform. Improvise and adapt or be left out and be forgotten. What’s next is a nagging question, but predictability probably would take out the thrill of it all.
When Gulf News turns 42, among the many before and after me, I too cherish this unforgettable journey.