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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Qatar Newspapers: Which is the best?

I have subscribed to the Gulf Times for some time, and I chose it because, although I often prefer the Peninsula’s style of writing (which is a bit more spiky), I have generally found that the Gulf Times has better coverage of Qatar stories.

However recently I have noticed Qatar stories popping up in the Peninsula (through my Google alerts for Qatar, which pick up stories from both newspapers) which I haven’t noticed in the Gulf Times. I also have friends who prefer the new paper on the block, The Qatar Tribune, citing its coverage of international issues. It seemed like a good time for a comparison, so on Friday I purchased and read all three newspapers.

I started on the front page, and quickly noticed that both the Tribune and the Peninsula carried the story of the Kahramaa’s network expansion plans. With a planned QAR 10.2 billion of contracts, this could be considered important, from a financial view at least. However, the Gulf Times relegated to this the third page, replacing it with what I thought was a far more important story.

This covered the story of a journalist jailed (in absentia) for three years for defamation of Hamed Hospital. The journalist had reported the story of a man who had allegedly “come back to life” after being placed in the hospitals mortuary. The newspaper in question stated that the reported had obtained documents, a photograph and a taped recording of interviews with the man.

Following on from the recent prosecution of the newspapers and journalists for carrying the story of cannibalism, with the prosecution once again seeking jail sentences for the journalists, this seemed like the best choice of a front page story to me.

A quick scan through the other two newspapers revealed that neither of them had carried the story.

I also laid out the newspapers to compare their front pages, and I noticed that the Gulf Times seemed to carry more information. Not surprising - a closer look revealed that the Gulf Times is definitely the largest of the three papers. The Gulf Times also seemed to make better use of the extra space, with a full thirteen stories being carried on the front page compared to ten in the Tribune and seven in the Peninsula.

The Peninsula seemed to have the widest coverage of Qatar stories. With the Tribune, after the front page (which carried five Qatar stories), I had to get to page 13 before I could find anything Qatar related - and that was a continuation of a story from the front page. However, I then spotted the Nation, Qatar Tribune’s supplement, which had several more Qatar stories, and lots of pictures - mostly of school children passing their exams. I managed to find 15 stories about Qatar in the Gulf Times (admittedly, not all of them were very long or interesting) and 17 in the Peninsula (if you count the editorial!)

All the papers seem to have reasonable coverage of international issues, not surprising given the varied ethnic mix that exists in Qatar. The papers dedicate a page to major regions and countries, starting on page 2 with the Tribune and on page 4 with the other papers. Interestingly, both the Tribune and the Gulf Times carried quite a major story on falling house prices in the UK (down a record 2.5% in a month) which has huge implications for the British economy, but the Peninsula seemed to have missed this one.

The Peninsula, on the other hand, definitely had the best overall selection of pictures and the most colour pictures, and was altogether more colourful than the other newspapers - although the tribune carried more colour pictures on the front page.

It’s not fair to judge the papers on the basis of a single day, and I’ve certainly see the Peninsula have better days. Still, for now at least, I think I’ll stick with the Gulf Times, which seemed to have more detail and better coverage of the type of stories I want to read. I will, however, also keep an eye on the Peninsula's (superior) website!

Also see: Qatar Newspapers and Media

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