Posted by on December 07, 2012 in Blog

A new study released by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows a surge in Arab American news outlets despite the overall decline in newspaper production in the United States. Currently there are a total of forty Arab American newspapers in the country, six of which are published weekly.

Traditionally, there has been a dearth of Arab American news outlets. However, as one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, members of the diverse Arab American community are providing news coverage specifically catering to issues of concern to the community.

Although, Arab American television news remains virtually non-existent, there has been a surge in print newspapers and online news, most of which are now being published in both Arabic and English to cater to all generations of Arab Americans. The Arab American News, Aramica, El-Entashar Al Arabi, and The Beirut Times are a handful of well-established print news outlets that also provide online editions. Some news outlets, such as Arab America, are published exclusively online.

The Arab American News, first published in 1984, is one of the more established Arab American newspapers based in Dearborn, Michigan and distributed throughout the state. According to publisher, Osama Sibliani, “circulation of the paper in 2012 was 35,000, up almost 17% from 30,000 in 2009.” Despite being almost entirely funded through advertisements, competing with social media, and having suffered from the economic crisis in 2007, The Arab American News has been able to increase its print and online readership.

In addition to a growing population, it is believed that the surge of Arab American media outlets is partly attributed to recent turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. Issues including the “Arab Spring,” internal disorder in Egypt, and the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Palestine allow Arab American media to fill a void in news coverage. While mainstream US news coverage of issues in the Middle East decreased after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the NATO invasion of Libya, Arab American news outlets continue to provide coverage of the region, which, in turn, has increased readership as the Arab American community turns to them for coverage.

Also, Sibliani highlights that local community news is also a growing part of his newspaper’s content which differs from competing outlets that are increasingly providing coverage of national and international events. The seamless combination of local and international news is appealing to large portions of the Arab American population who have ties to their homeland, but who also want to remain engaged in their local communities. 

Such a rise in Arab American media suggests that the growing community is now, more than ever, a paramount part of America’s social, cultural, and political spheres. Furthermore, this study sheds light on the strengthening of the Arab American voice despite ongoing challenges. 

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