The 22nd Annual Arab-U.S. Association for Communication Educators Conference was hosted by JRMC at The American University in Cairo

The theme"Journalism and Mass Communication in the Age of Instant Information" was designed to explore research and application of new directions in an ever-changing digital environment whether in the Arab region or globally.

DAY 1                           
Opening Ceremony and Welcome Notes  

Keynote Speaker Robb Montgomery – Media Innovation Strategist

Mobile Journalism: Changing the Journalism Pedagogy

By Ahmed Hosam and Hussein El-Moataz 

The Arab U.S. Association for Communication Educators (AUSACE) 22nd Annual Conference kicked off on The American University in Cairo (AUC) campus on Saturday evening, Oct. 21 in Moataz Al Alfi Hall. 

The keynote session opened with remarks from Dr. Naila Hamdy, chair of the conference organizing committee and associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JRMC) at AUC.

Hamdy introduced her JRMC colleague, Chair and Professor Firas Al-Atraqchi, and AUSACE President Mohamed el-Nawawy, Ph.D. from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Robb Montgomery, who is internationally known for his work as a mobile journalist, gave the keynote about his experiences with mobile journalism and journalistic pedagogy in the newsroom. His engaging speech addressed the necessity of shifting journalists’ focus to mobile journalism and social media, citing the rise of an “audio visual” online culture.

“The biggest challenge now for journalists is to know how to tell stories with a camera,” he said to the conference attendees.

“In 2019, 80 percent of the medium of the internet will be video; that is a huge leap from the [current] 60 percent,” he added.

Montgomery, who previously worked as a visual editor for the Chicago Sun Times, specializes in smartphone journalism strategy and technology. He currently works with Intajour (International Journalism Academy) in Berlin, a training institute for journalists who come from countries with suppressed press freedom.

“Taking good pictures is key,” he said in an exclusive interview, “because then you start to unlock your potential, and it doesn’t matter where you are.”

The ceremony was concluded after an outdoor dinner on the AUC campus.

DAY 2 
Expectations of Digital Media Audiences, Journalism in the Age of Social Media, and More.

Dr. Mervat Abou Oaf moderates a session at #AUSACE17.

The Effects and Attitudes of Digital Media on the Egyptian Audience

By Dina Sabry, Merna Sakr and Yasmine Bassily

The second day of the Arab U.S. Association for Communication Educators (AUSACE) 22nd Annual Conference took place on The American University in Cairo (AUC) campus on Sunday, Oct. 22. The panel topics included expectations of digital media audiences, people based advertising, politics and journalism in the age of social media, and the plenary session, archived on FB, addressed the digital successes of the "This is Egypt" campaign.

The first panel tackled the expectations of digital media audiences. It was moderated by Associate Professor of Practice Kim Fox.

The panel started with JRMC Assistant Professor and Associate Chair Rasha Allam, whose research focused on the impact of Over the Top Television (OTT) on the Traditional Television Market.

“The internet as a global distribution network has changed the TV business model,” said Allam.

According to her research, 78 percent of Egyptians are interested in online streaming, as opposed to those who depend on traditional media.

Professor Allam’s talk was followed by Abu Dhabi University’s Dr. Azza Ahmed, whose research revolved around the binge watching habits among Emiratis.

“The new technology makes it easier for the teenager to binge watch because of smartphones,” she explained.

During the People Based Advertising, Communication and Film Panel, Professor of Practice Mervat Abou Oaf, Ph.D. focused on a legislative overview of the Egyptian film industry. She discussed various restrictions and regulations that hinder the production of films. She also talked about how those impediments are caused by the filmmakers themselves, along with the authorities.

Arpi Katcherian presented her Ph.D. research, titled “From Piety to Decadence? A Content Analysis of Alcohol in Egyptian Films between 1996-2015.” She examined five minutes of every film she studied, which allowed her to compare them easily.

“Eighty-eight percent of films depicted alcohol consumption between 1997 and 2015,” she said.

The Rise of the Reader: Journalism in the Age of Social Media session discussed various studies executed by journalism professors and researchers.

Reem Gehad, a graduate student and teaching assistant at AUC studied media gags in Egypt.

“A publication ban easily backfires,” said Gehad as she explained how these bans raise criticism and suspension around the government. Other studies focused on the financial sustainability of bloggers and twitter influencers in the Arab world.

While the number of attendees of each session varied, most of them found the sessions to be interesting and beneficial.

“[The lecture] was so informative. I like the idea of cooperating a lot of research in one panel. It gives you more information and a whole view of the whole industry in Egypt,” said Rehab Ahmed, a student attendee.

At the same time as the Rise of the Reader session, the Politics in the Age of Internet and Social Media (1) session took place.

The Future of Journalism and Media Education, Activism and Politics in the Digital Era, Combating Hate Speech and More.

Professors, organizers, and participants come together for a group photo at the end of day 3. 

Challenges of Journalism Discipline in the Age of Social Media: Ethics, Case Studies and Politics

By Merna Sakr, Noura Shibl and Sara Mohamed 

The third and final day for sessions at the Arab U.S. Association for Communication Educators (AUSACE) 22nd Annual Conference took place on Monday, Oct. 23 on The American University in Cairo (AUC) campus in New Cairo. The panel topics included the current state of media, the future of journalism and media education, photojournalism, activism, special olympics, and combating hate speech in Egyptian media.

“Special Olympics in the UAE: Bringing the Games into the Classroom,” a panel discussion moderated by Professor Pamela Creedon, acting dean at Zayed University, tackled the topic of the Special Olympics. The discussion started with a short overview of the history of the Special Olympics, presented by Professor Mai Al Khaja.

The director of Special Olympics Media and Marketing, Taghrid Al Saeed, then spoke of the marketing plan for the United Arab Emirates’ for the Special Olympics in 2019. She also stressed on the definition of the Special Olympics, focusing mainly on intellectual disabilities.

“People with intellectual disabilities are among the most neglected groups in the world,” added Al Saeed.

Another panel discussion, “Photojournalism in the Age of Instagram,” moderated by JRMC Professor Tara Al Kadi, addressed modern uses of photojournalism.

Dr. Ronnie Close, who teaches photography in JRMC, highlighted the definition of the word “Instagram,” saying that “insta” is derived from “instant,” while “gram” is in relation to photographic technology.

Following Close’s presentation, Dr. Yousef AlFailakawi, from Kuwait University, discussed selfies and the motives behind taking them. His research focuses on the selfie culture in Kuwait.

“When was the last time you took a selfie? And why did you take a selfie?” AlFailakawi asked the session attendees.

AlFailakawi also stressed that the rise of social media has changed the way we create, share and experience visual media. Moreover, he noted that females are taking almost double the amount of selfies that males take.

“Politics in the Age of the Internet and Social Media” was the third panel discussion taking place, and was moderated by Philip Auter, Ph.D., from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. One study by panelist Nourhan El Abbassy, an instructor at Qatar University, tackled the diverse coverage by independent, opposition and governmental news outlets.

According to El Abbassy, “Al Masry Al Youm was the only newspaper that voiced the average Egyptian thought.”

Dr. Karin Wilkins discussed “Geopolitics of the Middle East Through U.S. Development and Media.”“When we look at the U.S., we can’t just talk about foreign aid, but also military intervention,” said Wilkins.

After the sessions, all participants, organizers and attendees gathered for a group photo, then set off to the closing ceremony on a Nile cruise where they announced the award winners.

You can watch the plenary, "Literary Journalism Attracts Readers and Brings Revenue," which was live streamed on FB Live.

#AUSACE17 Awards
The Winning English Research Papers

Arpi Khatcherian, left, receives the first place English award for her research presented by #AUSACE17.

First Place: Arpi Khatcherian: From Piety to Decadence? A Content Analysis of Alcohol in Egyptian Films between 1997-2015

Second Place: Reem Fathy: Publication ban orders and news production in Egypt in the digital era

Third Place: Frank Bartscheck, Arpi Khatcherian, and Farida Temraz: Laughter in the Social Network: Tracking Political Humor in Egypt during the 2014 President Campaign

A big thanks to all of the #AUSACE17 organizers, attendees and speakers. It was a wonderful experience for everyone. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/f6OKj5iK2u

— AUC JRMC (@AUCJRMC) October 24, 2017

Thank you to Alaa El Dirini and Refan AbdelNabi, associate producers for the #AUSACE17 Student Newsroom.

A special thank you to the students in the Multimedia Reporting Capstone.

Yasmine Bassily

Hussein el-Moataz

Haya ElSayed

Sarah Guirguis

Sara Mohamed

Karim Mourtada

Ahmed H. Rafei

Malak Saad

Dina Sabry

Merna Sakr

Noura Shibl