Tag Archives: journalism

Briefly, what is journalism?

george orwell: journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.

An apt quote from George Orwell which the press in this part of the world in particular need to mull and head. I know that they won’t, but it’s worth reminding them of their duty. Even if one of the thousands of journalists gets a pang on conscience after reading this, then that’s a good step in the right direction.

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.

– George Orwell

Peace through Media Award

A well deserved award for Dr Mansoor Al-Jamri and his paper. Al-Wasat has proven itself the only independent newspaper in Bahrain if not the Gulf and beyond. While I have become more skeptical of late, I tend to give news articles much more credence than any of the other papers in Bahrain and its columns, more thought.

Well done Al-Wasat. Onward and upward and leave the others eating your dust!

Oh the irony! Anwar calls the BBC yellow!

Read these gems, but please hold your laughter!

Why the BBC ‘has let down Bahrain’s people’

By Arthur Macdonald, GDN, Posted on » Wednesday, November 02, 2011

MANAMA: The British Broadcasting Corporation moved from being a globally respected news organisation to joining the ranks of the yellow press during the unrest in Bahrain.

That is the view of Akhbar Al Khaleej Editor-in-Chief Anwar Abdulrahman.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Bahrain Chapter of the International Advertising Association meeting yesterday at the InterContinental Regency Bahrain, in Manama, Mr Abdulrahman said that the BBC had let down the people of Bahrain with its coverage.

“I have respected the BBC in the past but they seem to have had a mental change,” he said.

“What they said over the unrest turned them into yellow journalism. I suppose they were in competition with the Sun at that level of coverage and now we have a BBC that we can no longer trust.

“I hope we, as human beings, learn and repair our standards because the coverage of the BBC was damaging to Bahrain in the eyes of the world.”

He added: “The BBC broadcasts its news bulletins in every language. If only a few Bahraini teenagers burn tyres in the streets to hinder traffic, for the BBC this is big news.

“However, when the house of the most distinguished Bahraini woman journalist Sameera Rajab was attacked with Molotov cocktails last week, the BBC did not utter a word.

“I seriously question its integrity.”

To illustrate the differences in perception between the Arab world and the West, Mr Abdulrahman related the incident of a Bahraini student staying in the UK who one day found that the lady serving them in the cafeteria had disappeared.

On enquiring, he was told that she was facing some family problems. So he decided to visit her.

“Thank you for coming to visit me,” she said. “I am facing enormous problems. My husband has run away with another woman and, secondly, my 18-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. These are facts of life I have to face.”

Suddenly she started crying and said: “But what is really tragic is that my dog has died.”

I don’t particularly give a damn for Anwar Abdulrahman being at the head of not one but two so-called “newspapers” in Bahrain. What I do give a damn about; however, is that an organisation like the IAA not only gives him the time of day but provides him with a platform from which he spreads his filth. The IAA must’ve been desperate for a mediocre comedian to entertain them during one of their lunches. What they have done with him being there is miserably failed their members and wasted yet another opportunity to raise the level of their Chapter and its membership with something worthwhile to listen to and learn from.

This joker entertained his crowd by branding an ancient and one of the most respected media edifices in the world as yellow journalists, then he goes on to contend that “the coverage of the BBC was damaging to Bahrain in the eyes of the world“. I suppose on Planet Moron™, in which he is a founding member, that would be a believable contention, on Planet Earth; however, it just leads to hilarious, rolling on the floor, leg-cicking mirth. What does damage this country’s reputation in the eyes of the world is him and his likes obfuscating the truth and creating such tall stories to support their unsupportable positions. The damage that Anwar Abdulrahman & Co have done to this country is untold, and time, being the merciless judge it is, will one day serve them their deeds in life or chiseled on their headstones for eternity.

But Anwar being on a roll doesn’t stop at those ridiculous contentions of course, oh no, he continues by insulting the Western world in general and the the UK in particular by what he believes to be a “funny and poignant story” which he typically attributes it to yet another of his imaginary sources to bolster his tenuous position.

Journalism? Ethics? Truth? Humanity? Those facets are as far away from him as they could possibly be, but in Planet Moron™, he’s the dog’s bollocks!

Reprieve for Al-Wasat

It’s with pleasure that I read that Al-Wasat‘s investors have decided to rescind their previous decision to close down the paper. The board of directors has now decided to continue publishing the paper under their new management.

Regardless of my personal apprehensions on its current editorial direction, and my sadness for the forced resignation by its very much respected founder and editor-in-chief Dr. Al-Jamri, I wish Al-Wasat, its journalists and professional staff the best of luck and hope that they will continue to push boundaries and establish new journalistic grounds for the whole of Bahrain to benefit from.

Punishments

Punishments come in various guises, but the worst of those are the collective and indiscriminate ones.

I think we’re seeing that today levied against the most respected newspaper in Bahrain. Al-Wasat comes to our doors with just 20 pages, and virtually no advertisements whatsoever.

If this carries on, not only tens of families will lose their livelihoods, but much more importantly, a balanced and professional news source disappears for the island to be left with a bunch of ubiquitous yes men.

Is this a harbinger of things to come?

Do the math.

“Why do you lie?”

Get this: The GDN publisher Anwar Abdulrahman objects to Jackson Diehl article in the Washington Post published on 3 Jan 2011. Rich? Of course!

I like how he almost always starts by a historical reference to probably demonstrate his intellectual superiority. This time, he invokes the ghost of Lord Northcliffe‘s rather insipid quote of “the power of the press is very great” – he might as well have invoked Fred Flintstone’s “yabba dabba doo” for all the difference it would make to his “column”. The latter quote might have even been more appropriate as it would be uttered just before indulging in his favour pastime of resolute brown-nosing.

Typical of the man, he leaves the essence of Deihl’s piece an engages in a hatchet job against the man himself:

It is important here to explain to readers a little about this man.

Jackson Diehl is a recognised and vehement Zionist supporter who strongly opposes President Obama’s rejection of Israeli settlements expansion.

In fact, The Zionist Organisation of America recently praised his “powerful opinion pieces”.

His track record on Iraq is equally questionable, for Diehl’s columns as the Post’s foreign affairs ‘guru’ were wrong on just about every key issue.

He didn’t seem to consider that serious problems might arise in the aftermath of invasion. When they did, he not once acknowledged that his own analysis had been totally flawed, but instead blamed poor execution by the administration for everything he failed to foresee.

Having explained something of this journalist’s background, based on solid information obtained from the most reliable sources, I ask the Post’s key executives how they have allowed their respectable newspaper to sink into such a quagmire?

GDN 11.1.11

and then he doesn’t stop there, he runs to the principal to tell and to:

In fact, I also implore the American Embassy to protect the reputation of its Press by vigorously pursuing this matter with Washington Post top brass, who should root out such lying and irresponsible journalists.

Maybe the outgoing US Ambassador or his Press Attaché would come over and comment on this request. Not speaking in their name for a second, I would rather think that it’s not in their mandate to monitor nor to pursue matters such as these with a paper’s top brass. Regardless of how vigorous their pursuit might be, I would hazard an educated guess that they would be chased and hounded out of any press offices in the States if they even dared suggest such a thing. They probably would rather be nailed to a cross in the middle of Times Square rather than suffer such a fate. But our interesting learned gentleman forgets that the press in the States is generally not available for sale and corrupt practices like his very own publications are.

He continues with this choice insult:

It is universally known that an average American’s knowledge of the outside world is limited – and that includes its intelligentsia – but for one of the country’s top newspapers to display such ignorance of global events is unacceptable.

I feel very sad at the base standards of such American reporting, which is even reflected to some extent in Newsweek magazine, where a cartoon was published depicting the general political awareness of Americans.

I should think that rather than the US Embassy and the Press answering to his first fervent request to curtail the press, they would take more umbrage with the above ridiculous statements. What they will do about it remains to be seen.

Remember what I said before about the value of good press in a country? Well, Mr. Abdulrahman’s article copiously demonstrates what’s wrong with our press and how we will never progress sufficiently with crap like this being spewed about in it. Just keep in mind as you read his comment, please, what journalistic ethics he employed to come up with that tripe.

EIU: Bahrain more democratic

In a GDN report entitled “Democracy Is Taking Root” this morning, it shows that Bahrain’s democracy has climbed fully eight ranks from 130 in 2008 to 122 this year according to an EIU report:

BAHRAIN is more democratic now than it was two years ago, according to a report by a leading research and analysis organisation.

The country climbed eight places in the Democracy Index 2010, which is compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and covers 162 countries.

Bahrain was ranked as the 122nd most democratic country in the report, up from 130 in 2008, and scored 3.49 out of 10 on the report’s democracy scale.

However, if you read the actual report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, you will notice a few things that the GDN piece chose not to highlight; the first is the actual title of the report: “Democracy Index 2010: Democracy in Retreat“. The second is that the report should have investigated as to the reason for this benevolence while they and I certainly know that happenings over the past two years especially did not do democracy nor the promised reforms any favours. The recent corruption report is just one single case in point.

They should – if they used any journalistic ethics, that is – should have highlighted that this “improvement” is because other countries in the region having regressed even more than we have and that the general trend in this region continues to be authoritarian with the vestiges of democracy being minimal at best:

The average score of countries in the region declined from an already very low 3.54 in 2008 to 3.43 in 2010, almost a point below the next lowest-scoring region, Sub-Saharan Africa. The only improvement of any note between 2008 and 2010 occurred in Kuwait, which rose by 15 places in the global rankings to 114th. Kuwait improved as its parliamentary system—the most advanced in the Gulf, although still not able to check seriously the emir’s executive power—continued to mature and press freedoms also strengthened.

One of the reasons for democracy actually NOT taking root in our countries is specifically because journalists and the media refuse to rise up and do their duties in highlighting corruption, taking the government to task, demand access to information and the inculcation of transparency.

What we actually have here, and the GDN is one of those to blame in this country, is putting advertising revenues and subscriptions first and foremost rather than the attendance to noble journalistic calling. What they do as a matter of course is blindly drum up support for corruption and shy from reporting anything which might affect their revenues rather than fight it in every way possible; hence, the propagation of paper-bag journalism. So much so that the rallying cry of these so called journalists and media organisations has become: “Do you want an article with that, sir?”.