International media experts speaking at a Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) symposium agreed that empathy, collaboration, and a focus on digitisation helped them respond to the changing landscape of media and technology that resulted from the pandemic.
The Media Innovation Symposium: Responses to the Pandemic organised by Dama Lab at NU-Q featured academics, journalists, communications specialists, and entrepreneurs in conversations about sports media, entrepreneurship, marketing, journalism, and creative writing in the post-pandemic world.
Marwan M Kraidy, dean and CEO, NU-Q noted that the symposium came at an important time during the pandemic as the industry has adapted to the disruption and is now planning on a different future. “The symposium,” he said, “served as a platform for intellectual debates and positive exchanges among experts in media and communication on the outcomes and future challenges of an unprecedented year that has redefined the future of media.”
A session on Covid-19’s effect on sports and sports media was moderated by Northwestern Prof Craig LaMay and featured sports journalist Mike Rowbottom and sports media expert Gerard Akindes, who addressed the slowdown in the growth of the industry during the pandemic as well as the acceleration of digitisation in sports.
The panelists discussed how the cancellations of major international sports tournaments, such as the Euro 2020, promoted a global rise in the popularity of e-sports and resulted in many athletes losing their primary sources of income, adding that women sports were the worst hit by the pandemic due to lower media attention and fewer opportunities to participate in competitions.
A second panel, moderated by Prof S Venus Jin, featuring the managing director of Qatar SportsTech, Heba al-Masri; and the co-founder and COO of Bonocle Inc., Ramy Abdulzaher, looked at the future of entrepreneurship and innovation in media in the years following the pandemic.
To navigate the pandemic's impact on their operations, the panelists said that start-ups and small businesses around the world were forced to be innovative in their solutions, employ online services, and reinvent their business models. In some ways, al-Masri said, the shift to virtual operations and meetings made work more efficient and focused.
In a conversation moderated by Prof Marcela Pizarro, journalist Emmanuel Dogbevi, and video producer Luiza Drable highlighted the challenges journalists face while reporting on the Covid-19 outbreak in countries across the Global South, including Brazil, Ghana, and India.
According to Dogbevi, fears of being penalised and losing their jobs discouraged journalists in West Africa from pursuing investigative reporting and challenging government officials, which resulted in narratives about the pandemic echoing governmental agendas.