Inclusion spurs quality

IMS partner AlHudood uses satire to cover important news and reach audiences that do not keep up with traditional media. In 2021, the outlet could document several significant developments related to gender equality and women’s participation in content and organisational development

AlHudood is an Arabic satirical news outlet founded in 2013. AlHudood uses satire to entertain as well as inform and challenge their readers on a range of issues, including politics, economic affairs, social behaviours and the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Arab world. The team believes that traditional media formats risk preaching to the converted or falling on closed ears, so instead they aim to reach a much more diverse audience with humour.

Through this approach, they are able to supplement independent media in news coverage while keeping powerholders accountable. Today, AlHudood has more than half a million followers across their social media platforms and their posts reach hundreds of thousands, sometimes up to a million people.

From all male to equality

Back when AlHudood was founded, all staff members were male. However, as inclusion has always been one of the organisation’s core values, it increased its focus on gender equality. The number of women staff member has gone from zero in 2016 to seven. In 2021, 50 percent of the total organisation were women, including three members of the editorial staff. To get to this point, AlHudood put a special focus on their job advertisements and hiring process, making sure they were equity and equality conscious.

“A lazy hiring process can easily lead to a male majority team, but with a bit of intentionality we managed to create a more diverse, more creative, more representative and just noticeably better team,” says Isam Uraiqat, Founder and Director of AlHudood.

“Editorially, we not only cover women-related issues better, but we cover all issues taking into account additional perspectives and angles on stories which we couldn’t have come up with before, producing work that is both more powerful and entertaining. As for the wider organisation, our more intensive search to locate more women led to better candidates from both genders.”

Highlighting gender-related topics

Another element has been to highlight gender-related topics and issues that are often overlooked in traditional media. With an improved, gender transformative editorial policy, the team remained focused on promoting women’s voices and perspectives; creating debate about patriarchal structures and inequalities; and challenging stereotypes about women and marginalised groups. They also started monitoring their use of sources and gender related coverage. The result was impressive: their audience share in 2021 had grown to 31 percent women.

A third initiative has been to include a special award for exceptional media excesses in their award show, highlighting especially offensive journalistic violations in local and international Arabic-language media outlets. In 2021, the award went to a large news outlet in Jordan which wrote an article that gave readers advice on how to deal with their “grumpy wife”.

This article was published in IMS’ Annual Report 2021