Electronic newspapers on the Internet : a study of the production and consumption of Arab dailies on the World Wide Web
With the spread of the Internet in the Arab world, many Arab publishers and governments' media bodies have begun to utilise websites in their outreach programmes. This thesis examines the subject of Arab e-newspapers on the Internet. Specifically, it focuses on readers of these publications and explores their use of this new news medium and their overall satisfaction with it. To supplement this analysis, data were also collected from e-newspaper publishers about their practices and about the content of their Internet news services. The methodology included online surveys of readers and publishers, content and format analysis of newspapers' websites, and face-to-face interviews with some Arab journalists. The research was restricted to Internet daily publications published by Arab publishers in Arabic and English, though its results may have wider implications. It was also restricted temporally to a specific time period, meaning that events in this rapidly changing new technology environment may quickly overtake the situation as elucidated in this work. In this respect, the findings do not reflect the impact of the new browsers that were introduced in late 1999, such as Microsoft's multi-language browser (Internet Explorer version 5), which will revolutionise the way people, read Internet content. The most important trend that has been identified is the major move of existing Arab printed newspapers towards online publishing in most Arab countries. Some of them just present part of their printed product (a selection of the daily content), others offer all of their content but, in most cases they appear in the same optical format as in the printed version. Yet, despite the urgency to get on the Internet, the findings reveal that most publishers did not have clear online publishing strategies and most of them were unaware of the seriousness of the Internet to their traditional business. This study revealed that the demographic profile of Arab e-newspapers' readers was similar, in many ways, to readership profiles found for Internet users in the non-Arab World, in terms of age, occupation and level of education. The keys to reader loyalty and satisfaction are found in the ease with which online news can be accessed and explored, and the extent to which it is updated.