Using Statistics in Business and Financial News in the Arabian Gulf: Between Normative Journalistic Professional Aspirations and ‘Real’ Practice

Fisal Alaqil*, Jairo Lugo-Ocando

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we consider the use of statistics in financial and business journalism in the Arabian Gulf, an area which remains under-researched. In doing so, we explore how reporters in two countries–the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and United Arab Emirates (UAE)–engage with, and use, statistics and numbers to articulate business and financial news as we assess how this reflects upon professional practice. Our study is based on empirical research in these two countries, which was carried out by triangulating content analysis and semi-structured interviews with journalists. Our data suggests that, journalists tend to use valid statistics, rely on reliable statistical sources and provide a degree of interpretation of the statistical data they present. However, as we also argue, when engaging with statistics, most of these journalists seem mainly ‘to be ticking the boxes of professionalism’ rather than using them to achieve a high level of journalistic professionalism and autonomy. In other words, they aspire to follow the procedures set by the canons of professionalisation but without really exercising critical scrutiny of the subject in a way that would achieve a high level of professionalism while pushing the boundaries around them. We attribute this to external causes, such as the context in which they operate, but also to internal elements such as the lack of training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournalism Practice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • accountability
  • Arabian Gulf
  • Business journalism
  • journalistic professionalism
  • Saudi Arabia
  • statistics
  • transparency
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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