Papers prompt mixed reaction

The UAE’s much anticipated compact dailies hit the streets last Monday, provoking a mixed reaction from the country’s media community.

  • E-Mail
By  Tim Addington Published  September 25, 2005

The UAE’s much anticipated compact dailies hit the streets last Monday, provoking a mixed reaction from the country’s media community. Gavin Dickinson, commercial director at the Arab Media Group, publisher of Emirates Today and its sister Arab title Al Emarat Al Youm, hailed the launch as an “unqualified success”, but admitted there had been problems with the paper’s reproduction in the first issue. He said: “Reaction from advertisers has been extremely positive, but we have had a couple of people give us constructive criticism, which we welcome. The moment the papers came out we had advertisers booking in for the next day and day after,” he claimed. “There has been a strong response to the Arabic title, with people telling us they like the new approach.” While many have praised aspects of the paper, its mix of local and international news and reproduction quality have been criticised. “It’s a ‘something for everyone’ formula as expected from a title that hasn’t quite decided who it is targeting,” said David Sheridan, regional director at media agency MindShare. “The editorial style is certainly more 7Days than Gulf News, with a seemingly random mix of UAE, regional and international news snippets occupying the first 14 pages. “The lack of navigational aids through this initial news melee needs sorting but the paper redeems itself with clear, colour-coded sections that may, in time, have appeal, particularly to women. “I was pleased not to see the court circular-style tributes for visiting dignitaries that clutter the broadsheets and, while I am not expecting challenging reporting in the early days, I do hope that it will develop a cutting edge in its editorial, otherwise I may question what more am I getting from Emirates Today for AED2 (US$0.5) than I get from 7Days for free?” Peter Smith, media director at Optimedia Middle East, said that, while the newspapers “fill a need in the market”, there were technical issues that needed to be resolved. He said: “I don’t think they will be too happy with the reproduction standards, as copies that I have seen have many colour areas out of register. Some advertisers will be concerned about this. I also feel that the news flow is a bit disjointed, with local news mixed in with items from other parts of the world. “It needs a bit more order brought to the placement of news so that readers can easily become more comfortable with the product.” But he added: “The features are excellent and in-depth and lay the ground for a pioneering paper. This format is an ideal opportunity to retain impact using page dominant sizes, but maybe this will develop as agencies and clients get used to the product. “That said, the overall formula is a winner… but care must be taken not to allow it to fall too downmarket.” Charif Wehbe, partner at Face to Face Public Relations, welcomed the Arabic compact daily. “The Arabic-language version is the real news here,” he said. “Launching a tabloid-style image-led daily is revolutionary for the UAE. It was only a matter of time before someone figured out that the new generation of Arab readers also have less time to read cumbersome broadsheets stuffed with endless columns of print.” On the English edition, he said: “The pages look fresh, the photos are bold and there’s enough locally-generated news to avoid being labelled a syndicated newsletter. The editorial strategy seems serious about uncovering insights into the various UAE communities.” Avi Bhojani, group CEO of the Bates PanGulf Group, said while his preference is for broadsheet newspapers, the success of the titles would be judged on editorial content. “In essence, short-term success with advertisers is a foregone conclusion,” he said. “As regards to success with subscribers and on editorial reputation, it would depend on how bold and differentiated the products are over the next few months, without sacrificing on credibility or crossing the line.” Eddie O’Sullivan, editorial director of MEED magazine, said: “The content is as I would have expected. They have been quite aggressive in getting their stories. In terms of look, it falls between a tabloid and a broadsheet. While it is the size of a compact, it has echoes of broadsheet design.”

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code