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Title: Innovation in Arabic online newsrooms : a comparative study of the social shaping of multimedia adoption in Aljazeera Net, Almassae and Almasry Alyoum in the context of the Arab Spring
Author: Abdel-Sattar, Nesrine M. A. K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 4016 7390
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This study focuses on the factors shaping innovation in online newsrooms in three nations of the Arab World, with particular interest in the adoption of multimedia news innovations. Applying theoretical perspectives from the social shaping of technology and the diffusion of innovation literature, this study sought to identify the key factors shaping the innovation process. Field studies were based in three Arabic newsrooms: Aljazeera Net in Qatar, Almasry Alyoum in Egypt, and Almassae in Morocco. The case studies are grounded in two weeks of participant-observation field research within each online newsroom, along with over 100 in-depth interviews with those involved in the production of online news, and online archival reviews of the three news portals since their inception. Field research began with participant observation at Aljazeera in 2010, prior to the uprisings of the Arab Spring, and continued through early 2013. The political context of each newsroom during the field research became a major aspect of the innovation process of each case study. The thesis reinforces a wide range of social, economic, and organizational factors in the adoption and adaptation of multimedia technologies in the newsrooms studied, supporting earlier research on newsroom innovation across other regions of the world. For example, conceptions about ‘ideal’ industry multimedia models for the modern newsroom were important in each case. However, in the political context of events related to the Arab Spring, the overriding importance of the larger political context emerged in each case. The significance of this observation suggests that research on news organizations cannot take the political context for granted and should more explicitly embed it in discussion of the social shaping of innovation, even under more stable and liberal political conditions. There is a relative lack of systematic empirical research on Arabic newsrooms among studies of news innovation. Looking at the political context of emergent or weak democracies and their influence on modern multimedia newsrooms especially during crisis events, therefore, can contribute to the development of theory and research in Western democracies; and reintroduce politics into theories of innovation within modern newsrooms. This study suggests that future scholarship brings politics into the study of the social shaping of newsroom innovation without losing the many significant advances of existing research in more liberal democratic Western contexts of the multimedia newsroom.
Supervisor: Dutton, William Sponsor: Citadel Capital Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Middle East ; Arabic ; Media Law ; Media and Public Policy ; News media, journalism, publishing ; Journalism (political science) ; Internet research ; Internet and everyday life ; Internet and governance and democracy ; Shaping the Internet ; arabic newsrooms ; Arab spring ; Aljazeera ; Egypt ; Morocco ; Qatar ; multimedia innovation ; online news ; sociology of newsrooms ; social shaping of technology