How the media can stimulate innovation

Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics – Cairo
29 June 2010

First, allow me to speak about the relation between the media and stimulating innovation. I would like begin with an introduction to the nature of professional media work.

Media by its very nature is the means by which one conveys to readers, viewers and listeners a picture of what is happening in our daily lives. In the third world, media plays an important and sometimes dangerous role in forming the conscience and thinking of citizens, either positively or negatively.

Just imagine the number of hours spent by each one of us in front of the TV screen? I wish the organizations that measure public opinion would pay more attention to determining exactly how many hours and distributing that information to everyone. Besides the school and home, there is no doubt that television has become a free, popular school that forms the thinking of our youth in particular.

In general, styles of media work tend to oscillate between two attitudes: the search for the truth and the deliberate creation of excitement. The first attitude seeks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and is the ideal choice. But, it does not attract millions of readers, viewers or listeners. It only draws the attention of an elite minority. The second attitude aspires to deliberate excitement, the so-called “pop media,” and it attracts the lion’s share of public consumption.

Let me now examine the ideal image of a media professional. To respect the ethics of our profession, the aspiring media professional must collect and verify information, must do serious research before writing or speaking. With Internet revolution that has put a tremendous amount of ideas and information at the disposal of serious people.

Is this what the media professionals do today? Frankly speaking, many people take the easy way and simply unleash their pens and mouths, without verifying their information, just to create a state of excitement. Excitement and ignorance are two sides of the same coin and neither of them has anything to do with the real media profession.

Now let us go to the main topic, the role of the media in stimulating creativity and innovation, in which the media may have more than one mission:

1) To search for the elements that might lead to creativity and innovation. These elements are out there among us and the media can play a complementary role to that of the state institutions that specialize in developing cadres working in fields that demand creativity and innovation.

2) To search for and imagine the means by which they might inspire and motivate the creativity and innovation of others. This role, because of its importance and the fact that it needs considerable media experience, is mainly carried out by experienced media professors and specialized writers.

3) Media organizations and the Journalists’ Syndicate could hold regular seminars to put media professionals together with experts in creativity and innovation, along with some public figures, in order to put this in a larger framework of service to society and contribution to its development.

4) The media makes stars. I wish it would also shed light on the creativity and innovation that already exists, to balance out the negative role created by the media stars of corruption and deviance.

I have to say that many journalists are not qualified to support and/or motivate the cadres of creativity and innovation, and because of that I would invite the Ministry of Administrative Development to make training courses in this field. Without hesitation I would say that Dr. Ahmed Darwish is qualified for this role because he is both creative and innovative. I can also see that he has a keen sense of the media.

I cannot speak about creativity and innovation without a tribute to the remarkable advances made by the information technology and communications sector under the leadership of Dr. Tarek Kamel. Achievement in this sector has become the standard distinction between developing and developed countries. Objectively, I’d like to say that Egypt’s advanced status in communications and information technology is a medal on the chest of those who humbly assumed this responsibility by following the words I truly believe: “Egypt owes us nothing. It is we who owe her everything.”

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