Online news: a study of ‘credibility’ in the context of the Saudi news media

Alotaibi, Naif Mutlaq (2017) Online news: a study of ‘credibility’ in the context of the Saudi news media. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the ‘credibility’ of news in Saudi Arabia, comparing online media with official newspapers. The latter are heavily regulated offering limited viewpoints. But the Saudi government has been less able to regulate online. Against a historical background of news development in Saudi Arabia, the thesis explores the rise of online from discussion forums established in the 1990s to online newspapers and social media.
Largely qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups) plus a quantitative survey, were adopted to collect two sets of data: from educated readers, and from journalists working for online publications. Additionally, material from two news case studies was gathered. Questions concerned: how online news was evaluated by users compared to more traditional reporting; how producers perceived the distinctiveness of online titles and the issues they faced. The data from the case studies – an ‘internal’ news story, Corona virus and an ‘external’ event, Egyptian elections – was subjected to ‘frame’ analysis, addressing the different news coverage of official print titles, online news and independent Twitter accounts. Focus was on whether online reporting offered more varied viewpoints and greater reader participation, and whether there was evidence for more management of news by the Saudi authorities in relation to the internal as compared to the external news event.
The thesis argues that compared to official newspapers, online titles have largely gained greater credibility amongst educated Saudi users. They are regarded as offering different views, more ‘objective’ reporting and actively encourage reader comment. Findings indicate that online is less censored than official newspapers, but editors/journalists have learnt the skills of self-censorship to avoid blocking. Exchange of views on Twitter also demonstrate the possibility of distinctive voices and viewpoints being aired and argued over. In these ways, the relation between online news and readers/users begins to enable the formation of independent ‘public opinion’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS201 Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P0087 Communication. Mass media
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism. The periodical press, etc.
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2017 16:32
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 16:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/67077

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