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As the wheels of technological advancements relentlessly spin onward, so do the ever-evolving forms of media, tethered to tech seemingly at the hip. Newspapers, magazines, books, and other forms of media that brush paper with ink are still at play but have gained a lot of company over the past decades, having spawned new forms of media, or better put, new forms of media delivery. Rather than new forms of media overtaking older, more traditional media, media producers adopt various forms to keep up with trends, while remaining grounded in their original product, but overall, media has become a multi-faceted industry, that has an environment all its own, and for the most part, enjoys a global reach if desired.
At the 2023 Saudi Media Forum that was held in Riyadh, local and international leaders, experts, and analysts in the media industry gathered to examine what the future holds regarding the media as an industry and its intended impact on consumers. Topics that were brought up and discussed included but were certainly not limited to ethics, influence, advertising, cultural impact, and the growing use of AI in media. But for Saudis, the Media Forum examined what the future should hold for its citizenry and the goals that have and have not yet been realized and addressed in the Vision 2030 outline, including media’s involvement in human development, and speech guidelines (i.e., hate speech).
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Minister of Energy, touched on some topics that I personally found to be interesting, and as he is speaking on behalf of the Kingdom, I’d even go so far as to say a more promising glance into the future on a human or individual rights level. He spoke about the need for the local and state government within the Kingdom to better use criticism in a manner that would provoke improvements that in the end would benefit the public, and the importance of disclosure and openness to earn the trust of citizens rather than assuming trust without it. To paraphrase some key elements of what Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih had said at the event, Saudi Arabia’s regional and global efforts are constantly making progress; media capabilities, reach, and quality should remain tethered to that level of progress.
Inevitably, economics was involved in many areas of discussion, including the impact media has on overseas companies that have chosen to headquarter themselves in Saudi Arabia, and the advancements that have been, will, and should be made within the media industry as a whole. In terms of intermingling economics with media, cutting-edge tech entered the discussion weaving some of these things together, as there was an emphasis made on the acquisition of AI technology regarding its importance, its benefits, and its inevitability, but also the dangers that such technology is capable of delivering when used as a means to produce, promote, and distribute media. In its current state, AI-run media continues to be a two-edged sword, dividing audiences depending on their overall outlook- an exciting technological advancement to the optimistic, yet murky waters with an inevitable bad end to the pessimistic.
Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
Saudi Scholar & Writer *