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Leaving aside the question of profitability, how are the UAE’s newspapers responding to the demands of online? Are they yet equipped to deliver an online, 24/7 multimedia agenda?
July 6, 2010 4:51 by Rania Habib
“We want The National’s website to become a one-stop shop for people who are interested in coming to the UAE,” says Davies. “They can come to the website, find business or tourist information, or cultural happenings; it’s important to see our website and newspaper as a portal into the region. We also want people who have read about the country before moving here to continue using our website as an information and news resource, so we’re developing online listings. We’ll have information on how you can engage with the different governmental departments here, and we’ll have a more sustained blogging effort. We’re expanding, investing, and training staff, and we’ll have a more consistent and quality multimedia effort.”
Multimedia has become the hottest commodity for newspapers looking to integrate their print content with their online offering. The National’s website, which already offers multimedia in the form of videos, blogs, and photo galleries, plans to capitalize on its experience so far. “You’ll see documentaries, news reports, analysis, podcasts, and quick-response commentary,” says Davies. “We’ll bring a lot of added value that builds on the fantastic content we have in the newspaper and online.”
At Gulf News, the recent redesign also involved a heavier multimedia offering, steering away from the copy-paste format of content pulled straight from the newspaper to the website. “The website is very much meant to provide a digital media experience, whether it’s through video, picture galleries, Google Maps, or anything that is going to help tell the story; it is going to be used,” says Buchanan.
“It is part of the Gulf News family, but the site is meant to be its own entity and do what it should be doing on the Web: offering a broad multimedia experience. Video is becoming extremely important to us, as we saw with two key stories: the Hamas assassination, where we published extended video of the CCTV footage on the website, and the Dubai Mall aquarium leak, for which we got a film clip of the crack [in the tank]. Both videos told the story effectively by themselves, and to us that’s a vital component of what we do.”