Technology has changed the rules of media authorship forever. Now everyone can be a storyteller, thanks to the internet, the smart phone and social media. Digital has given more people a voice, and in this connected world, stories can travel farther and reach more people. Content is so much more visual now that often we don’t even need to have common language skills to understand the story we are being told.
The two-way exchange that digital media makes possible has opened up the world, brought people together and increased our understanding of others. It also enables us to push out important messages in the face of negativity, fear and intolerance. That is why it is so important that we embrace the opportunity that digital media gives us as storytellers, especially in a region with so many young people who have so much to gain from an accurate portrayal of their culture, values, hopes and dreams. Digital media gives us the means for a digital drowning of misconceptions, replaced by a new positive cultural exchange from the Arab region.
Not only is it important for us the people to use the digital tools available to share a more authentic story of the Arab world, we must also promote professional, ethical and accurate storytelling by official news outlets and in entertainment pieces, digital or otherwise. As the home of media and entertainment in Abu Dhabi, twofour54’s mission involves helping to develop the next generation of news correspondents, filmmakers and documentary makers, not just in the UAE but in the wider region. I believe that the fourth estate – professional journalism that comes with appropriate checks and balances – is an important anchor in a sea of personal stories and opinions, and it is vital we protect it and fuel its future with exceptional talent.