Citizen journalism, public interest and social media in Saudi Arabia

Almutarie, AO 2019, Citizen journalism, public interest and social media in Saudi Arabia , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

This thesis breaks new ground in investigating the nature and practice of public interest citizen journalism (PICJ) in Saudi Arabia (KSA). It offers a deeper understanding of the role and relevance of Citizen Journalism (CJ) in Saudi Arabia by analysing the coverage by Saudi citizen journalists of key economic events as matters of public interest (PI). This thesis defines, and derives a model for the functioning of, the features of PICJ for economic issues. It identifies the stages of development of CJ in Saudi Arabia and investigates the impact of the Internet and social media (in particular, Twitter) on the production and consumption of journalistic content in the KSA. A mixed-methods approach combining qualitative and quantitative techniques was employed to achieve the objectives of the research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Saudi citizen journalists (columnists and public figures with Twitter accounts) and licensed professional Saudi journalists, for a total of 30 individuals. In addition, a thematic analysis of Saudi tweets relating to economic affairs that occurred in 2015-2016 (total number of tweets = 10.346, identified from their hashtags) and a quantitative analysis of tweet frequency on the hashtags considered were carried out. This research identifies the specific characteristics and behaviour of Twitter-based online citizen journalists in the KSA to produce a new model of Saudi PICJ for economic issues. The findings confirm that the traditional Saudi press increasingly depends on CJ on Twitter. Many citizen journalists who are specialists in their field provide high-quality information which is censored from the traditional press. There is also evidence that in certain instances CJ may adopt an agenda-setting function for traditional media by highlighting the concerns, questions, and views of the citizens. The analysis of the hashtags studied (i.e. those relating to Vision 2030, the so-called ‘White Lands’ tax, and Royal Decrees 2015/16) demonstrated that Saudi citizen journalists are able to make use of social media platforms to address economic issues they feel are in the public interest and contribute to creating a virtual interactive community for debating these issues. Data analysis results reveal that platforms like Twitter give citizen journalists more freedom of expression than traditional Saudi media and allow for an interactivity, both locally and globally, that helps to shape Saudi public interest in relation to economic issues and overcomes, albeit not fully, the limits imposed by state control of traditional media. Keywords: Saudi citizen journalism, Saudi public interest, social media, Twitter in Saudi Arabia, Saudi economy

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Depositing User: Aljawhara Owaid Almutarie
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 07:39
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 07:39
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/51586

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