INTERVIEW: “Our goal will always be to provide credible, authentic and factual reporting”
DUBAI: Social media is by far the most popular source of news for young Arabs with 61% getting their news from the medium in 2021, according to the annual Arab Youth Survey. In comparison, 43% got their information from television and 9% from newspapers.
The fast, succinct, and always-on nature of social media channels has challenged many traditional media brands.
One such brand is CNN. Its Arabic edition, CNN Arabic, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, ranked as the top news provider against rivals such as Sky News, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic, according to an independent study of news consumers in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. , Iraq, Jordan and the United States.
Speaking to Arab News, Caroline Faraj, Vice President of Arabic Services at CNN, spoke about the network’s decision to branch out into Arabic 20 years ago. “In 2002, CNN already had networks in English and Spanish, and the addition of CNN in Arabic gave us the ability to reach, engage, better represent and understand those of us who speak Arabic. one of the most popular languages in the world.”
“Since then, we have brought that vision to life by telling stories to Arab audiences around the world in multiple ways through mobile video, interactive content, written news and more,” she said.
CNN’s digital transformation has been at the forefront of its success. “As a digital news service from the very beginning, it has always been in our DNA to evolve, experiment and be relevant as people’s news habits continue to change.”
For example, when CNN first launched, there were no smartphones. Today, however, 90% of network traffic comes from mobile because “a long time ago we started adapting our content to engage with people on the devices they carry with them 24/7. 7,” she said.
Although social media is the most popular source of information, it is the least reliable. According to the Arab Youth Survey, only 26% of young Arabs consider it a “very trustworthy” source of information. More than 50% of them do not trust any channel, be it TV and newspapers, or online portals and social media.
Still, CNN Arabic emerged as highly trustworthy, earning more than three times the average trust rating compared to other brands in the industry.
“This trust factor is crucial,” Faraj said, “especially at a time when research such as the Arab Youth Survey shows high levels of distrust of news, especially on social media.
“Looking further ahead, the way information is consumed will undoubtedly change, just as it has over the past 20 years.”
CNN Arabic had its biggest year ever in 2021, with daily viewership numbers growing more than 150% over the past six years, according to Adobe Analytics.
Although “we are currently in a strong position due to the growth of our audience on various digital platforms,” Faraj said, “the platforms that people use for news will certainly evolve with new technologies and new media. Communication”.
“Our goal will always be to provide credible, authentic and factual information. Our commitment to the Arabic-speaking world is that we will continue to innovate in the way we provide people with news and information where they need it.