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Book Review: Arab Media Moguls by Donatella Della Ratta, Naomi Sakr, and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (Eds.)Arab Media Moguls. RattaDonatella DellaSakrNaomiSkovgaard-PetersenJakob (Eds.). London: I.B. Tauris, 2015. 233 pp. $28.00 pbk.

  • United States International University-Africa
924 Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 94(3)
individual journalist’s level, the book reveals that media practitioners also have
engaged with social media in one way or another, personally and professionally. As the
study unveils, pan-Arab journalists use social media in distinctive ways: crowdsourc-
ing ideas from audiences to enrich their programs, driving traffic to their own or their
organizations’ central websites/portals, sharing links with audiences on issues not
directly addressed by employer organizations, and commenting on developments in
the region and around the world. Journalists also use social media for news-gathering
purposes. These include gaining access to news sources, checking rumors, network-
ing, and dissemination.
A great strength of this book is its recency. Most of the data analyzed in the study
are from 2014, as presented in the tables. The book also mentions some recent events
from 2015 as examples to illustrate the role of social media in the current newsroom.
Considering the long turn-around cycle for publishing a book, this recency is quite
impressive. It is also noteworthy that the authors are clearly experts in the subject mat-
ter, as demonstrated in the very knowledgeable and authoritative observations, com-
ments, and arguments.
A central theme of the book, as the authors point out, is that social media will be
transforming the traditional model of journalism as practiced not only in North
America and Europe but also in the MENA region. I share this view and further believe
that this will go beyond MENA. While journalists elsewhere, particularly those strug-
gling in severe state-controlled and ideologically censored communication environ-
ments, continue to manage to survive in this social media era, this research has great
global relevance.
Arab Media Moguls. Donatella Della Ratta, Naomi Sakr, and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen
(Eds.). London: I.B. Tauris, 2015. 233 pp. $28.00 pbk.
Reviewed by: Kioko Ireri, United States International University–Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
DOI: 10.1177/1077699017726338
Arab Media Moguls analyzes careers and positions of influential media moguls in the
Arab World. Specifically, the volume examines a set of features associated with media
moguls—family roots, family role in business and succession, types of risks taken in
media business, styles of management, and moguls’ relationship with inner circles of
political power. Donatella Della Ratta and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen are based at the
University of Copenhagen. The former is Postdoctoral Fellow, and the latter is
Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies. Naomi Sakr is Professor of Media Policy at
the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) at the University of
Westminster, and Director of CAMRI Arab Media Center.
In reading this book, it is important to understand three key terms associated with
media entrepreneurship—“media mogul,” “crown prince,” and “media baron.” Ratta
and colleagues describe “media mogul” as a person who largely built up his own
Book Reviews 925
media empire. This entrepreneurial element can include the launching of new media
enterprises, but in practice often consists largely in buying up and taking over existing
media companies. “Crown prince” is the second-generation media entrepreneur, who
typically inherits major media properties from his pioneering father. Normally, media
barons support the mogul—and the work of the baron is to manage divisions or com-
panies within the mogul’s larger interests. A baron can be a chief executive, who may
also take entrepreneurial risks, but he is not the ultimate owner or controller of the
overall enterprise.
Justifying the significance of the book, the authors argue that Arab media matter,
and so too do Arab media moguls. Therefore, the Arab World provides fertile grounds
for investigating media moguldom. Similarly, Ratta and colleagues contend this is an
important topic of analysis because (a) in the last twenty years, a group of Arab media
moguls has emerged, successfully challenged the state-owned media of individual
Arab states, and built companies for the pan-Arab market; and (b) the specific politi-
cal, social, and economic circumstances of the Arab world have created a distinct
specimen of the media mogul. Media liberalization and privatization in the Middle
East region have also contributed to the emergence of Arab media moguls.
Arab Media Moguls comprises eleven chapters. Chapter 1 written by Jakob Skovgaard-
Petersen introduces the book’s main theme—highlighting careers of major Arab media
moguls. In Chapter 2, Joe Khalil investigates the modalities of Arab media governance.
Chapter 3 by Zahera Harb focuses on Antoine Choueiri—the “President” of Arab
advertising. Harb explores the political and economic factors that made Choueiri, aka
“Le President,” such a recognizable figure in business, media, and sport in the Arab
World. Chapter 4 by Sarah El-Richani discusses the story of Lebanese Broadcasting
Corporation and its owner Pierre Daher. In Chapter 5, Katharina Notzold charts the rise
of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the relationship between his
media investments and political-business maneuvers. Ehab Galal’s Chapter 6 focuses
on Saleh Kamel, a Saudi Arabian sheikh who has invested heavily in media business.
Najat Alsaied (in Chapter 7) focuses on media mogul Walid al-Ibrahim who has
built a US$2.9 billion business empire from his Middle East Broadcasting Corporation.
In Chapter 8, using the case of Saudi royal prince and media mogul Alwaleed bin
Talal, Marwan Kraidy explores how a media capital approach enables a new under-
standing of media moguldom. Donatella Della Ratta in Chapter 9 profiles media
mogul Tarak Ben Ammar in light of the idea of a modern entrepreneur as described by
Joseph Schumpeter—that is, somebody who carries out a creative act that drives eco-
nomic development and growth, yet does not necessarily generate profit in the short
term. Thus, Ratta argues that Ammar has introduced the Schumpeterian “new combi-
nations” in a variety of domains, from film making to finance and banking activities.
Naomi Sakr, in Chapter 10, problematizes power and agency in relation to media
investments by Naguib Sawiris, a wealthy Egyptian media investor. And Chapter 11
by Tourya Guaaybess reviews the main actors in Egypt’s privately owned media
This is an important text that provides very useful behind the scenes insights on
media ownership and management in the Arab World. The authors should be com-
mended for crafting such a fact-laden, entertaining, and informative work which
926 Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 94(3)
enriches existing literature on media systems—more so media ownership and gover-
nance in the Middle East. Suited for graduate studies, the book is well-written in a
simple language that makes it very attractive to a wide range of readers not necessarily
in the communication field.
In a nutshell, anyone exploring media in Middle East will find this volume
highly useful in understanding five major things: (a) the leading Arab media
entrepreneurs; (b) Arab media management juxtaposed between state politics and
economic interests—a delicate balance for media operations and survival; (c)
forces that determine media content (most powerful being state, politics, and
media ownership)—all of which could be examined under the hierarchy-of-influ-
ences theory advanced by Pamela Shoemaker and Stephen Reese; (d) Arab media
ownership in relation to establishment, shareholding, and takeovers and counter-
takeovers—depending on the prevailing political environment; and (e) the cen-
trality of Arab media in power and politics—in addition to the objective of
NEO-PR: Public Relations in a Postmodern World. Christopher Caldiero. New York:
Peter Lang, 2016. 135 pp. $39.95 pbk.
Reviewed by: Ray Begovich, Franklin College, Franklin, Indiana, USA
DOI: 10.1177/1077699017701929
A strong contribution to the critical literature on public relations is Christopher
Caldiero’s NEO-PR: Public Relations in a Postmodern World.
Three quick takes on the book: First, it will be an intellectually stimulating delight
for geeky PR academics who appreciate studying the nuances and intricacies of how
PR is both reflective and shaping of the cultures—both macro and micro—in which it
operates. Second, students will need a good teacher to help them mine the gold nug-
gets of insight buried in necessarily complex contexts and arguments. Third, PR pro-
fessionals are going to need some patience while working through the academic
language en route to real-world advice.
NEO-PR opens with a discussion on the cultural constructs of modernism and,
more to the book’s focus, postmodernism. The author acknowledges the challenge
of precisely and comprehensively defining those concepts/eras/movements, yet
does a nice job in summing them up (notably in mass media contexts), especially
for those of us only vaguely familiar with modernism or postmodernism and hold-
ing no pretense of deeply understanding their artistic and philosophical manifesta-
tions. More important, the author, who is Professor of Communication Studies at
Farleigh Dickinson University, uses familiar U.S. PR icons such as Bernays, Creel,
and Lee, anchoring their legendary PR work in modernism, and then moves us
toward the argument that today’s PR practitioners function, or ought to function,
with postmodern approaches.
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