Change at the GDN?

You know how much I love the GDN, right? And hold it at the highest regards? Yes, I’m being sarcastic here, but even with that, I am really surprised by a few changes in their reportage I have witnessed over the last few weeks; one might even use the adjective “daring” to describe some of the things they printed.

Take today for instance, right there on the front page they trespass on the law and actually use that dreaded word “bandargate“!! It possibly is the only national paper which have had the balls (recently) to print it. I wonder if they now will be penalised and shut down for a while for their temerity!

Have a look yourselves:


So the question is, where did the balls come from, or is the guy who usually applies the brakes on holiday?


  1. parker

    As you know being a buisness owner change is sometimes good & helpfull, I pray they shitecan this les horton, I mean does he really think people want to read about his wife sara, please dont bore us anymore with his dribble. I regrett the day 20 years ago babs talked george into hiring this insecure little man.

  2. sillybahrainigirl


    Les can be reached on 17620222. Why don’t you pick up the phone, introduce yourself and tell him what you think of him? I have personally worked with him for 15 years – and I know that he will

    Also, what does a personal attack on an editor have to do with the point Mahmood is driving?

  3. Loki

    I can’t stand the GDN. Its like reading a bad comic. I still subscribe to it though. Must be the same impulse that makes one slow down at the site of an accident.

  4. Lee Ann

    I would guess it was the same person who decided to print the name of the Sharia Court judge I had the misfortune to stand before and so felt compelled to write about in a letter to the GDN sometime back. I wrote his name but really did not expect them to keep it in the paper with their glee for editing…I was totally shocked when I saw it there…they caught some heat over that but Alison sent me an email telling me to keep up with the letters as they generated a lot of responses and kept things interesting….lol.

    btw the GDN has come along way in the 20 years Ive been here…it was a rediculous attempt at newsreporting back in the day…even now it gives me flashbacks on occassion when I see some insepid bit of reporting done….but I have to admit it has improved greatly….but then our choices are limited.

  5. Kiwi Nomad

    The GDN always provides a laugh, even if it’s just the sloppy reporting… or maybe it’s just following the Premier’s edict to provide positive news about Bahrain only. What about yesterday’s headline:

    UN report praises Bahrain’s progress

    The article then describes all the UN concerns… hardly praise for progress!

  6. Loki

    is it just me or is something always being “slammed” or “blasted” according to the GDN? 😕

  7. SoulSearch

    the GDN seems to only be interested in maids who jump from 2nd storey buildings or their cheesy crossing the ball competition, but I would be strongly inclined to believe that the guy with the scissors maybe on holiday or the word just got past without anyone noticing…no dare in what they print…

  8. Moonshallow

    Guess what Mahmood… they wrote the same word in the same place on the front page today…some things don’t change.

  9. Post
  10. Abu Arron

    Ha, Ha. This thread really has wandered off into oblivion. Mahmood was making a valid point about censorship and we’ve got comments about Les and his dribble (was that supposed to be drivel?) and then proceeeded to go further downhill.

    The point being that GDN will surely have it’s knuckles rapped for daring to mention the unmentionable. Having said that, it’s all quiet in the west on this subject.

    I think we should have a sweepstake as to how many seconds a programme like “Have I Got News For You” would last.

  11. Esra'a

    the GDN seems to only be interested in maids who jump from 2nd storey buildings

    I am incredibly insulted by this.

    Not only are maids generally uncared for within our societies, here we have people actually bashing GDN for making an effort to open your eyes to certain harsh realities!

    Yes, the GDN cares about maids who jump from buildings / commit suicide due to extreme circumstances.

    Yes, it matters.

    Yes, it is perfectly professional and ethical for them to report on these crimes, to highlight a dangerous reality that takes place on a daily basis in the Gulf.

    Thank you so much for demonstrating very well why they should continue highlighting such matters to the public. I do not see our local Arabic papers discussing these abusive, despicable, ever so common crimes the way GDN so often does for perfectly legitimate reasons.

  12. Abu Arron

    Even better. I just set Adobe Reader to read out loud the report and it just keeps saying “Warning. Empty Page” as it scrolls down. Now that’s what I call censorship.

  13. Fish in the tank of the GDN office

    Don’t get me started on the GDN…too late, you’ve started me…

    I can tell you that most of the team working on the paper are decent people. Not stunningly good journos but if you see how little they get paid (400 BD per month full time), then its no surprise that the GDN is not attracting the cream of the crop. If the paper is selling as well as the editor claims then I don’t understand why they can’t up the pay a bit and start attracting good hacks who can write.

    It’s the same at Radio Bahrain. They think you can get quality for peanuts. If you want good DJs, good journalists, good editors you need to pay them a decent wage. Simple.

  14. Michael

    It makes me laugh when people criticise the GDN. Do you think they set out to dodge certain issues on purpose?

    Mmmm let’s see here – it’s because (despite claims to the contrary) there is little in the way of press freedom in this country.

    I have a friend who worked on a Bahraini paper and he told me that they got about a day or two to report freely on Bandargate and then the government fax came through banning them from doing anymore.

    GDN, for all its faults, is an entertaining read and takes a strong line on social issues such as maids etc. It is far superior than most other English newspapers in the Gulf which just rely on syndicated copy from AP or Reuters. At least the paper has ‘boots on the ground’ reporting issues on the country. Do these sometimes seem parochial? Sure, but in case you haven’t noticed Bahrain is one of the smallest countries in the world and it can’t be easy filling a paper on it every day.

    Plus, you need look no further than your own parliament for examples of the kind of ‘small-town’ mindset that can prevail here. I would equate GDN with a good local newspaper in my home country the US – sure sometimes you laugh at the front page, but more often than not there is some solid reporting to read.

    You want your reporters to be Woodward and Bernstein? Haven’t heard of the Arabic press in Bahrain breaking any massive stories lately – and I’m sure you wouldn’t have to do too much digging to find corruption in many places. That’s the other problem – good reporting relies on access to information, and there is a culture of secrecy in most Arab countries. In the US you can file a freedom of information request on a plethora of things ranging from your congressman’s expenses to government spending – not possible here.

    Plus I imagine that most of the staff on the GDN are expat – is it really surprising that they are loathe to risk the income they use to support their families? Can you imagine what would happen if they did run a two-page story on corruption among certain vested interests? I imagine it would be a case of straight on the flight home, or their next visa-renewal might be a problem.

    Plus I seem to remember you yourself Mahmood retracted an article that had caused offence to a minister – that’s not the kind of move that gets you journalistic kudos in a free society either.

    Hope that last paragraph didn’t come across as a personal attack, it’s just I think you are aiming at the wrong target here. If there was greater freedom for reporters (they can still be locked up for chrissakes!) I’m sure the hacks at the GDN would love to get their teeth into some bigger issues. Sure, take issue with some of the headlines or whatever, but in terms of content you get the press you deserve. And in that respect I would suggest the blame lies closer to home for Bahrainis.

    Sorry, bit of a diatribe! Didn;t realise I loved the GDN so much til now!

  15. Post

    I don’t think anyone misses the amount of references I have off the GDN both on this site as well as on the clippings site at – this does suggest quite rightly that although I look at the GDN with disdain, usually, I do recognise that they are the best there is as an English language entrenched paper in Bahrain. They do champion human and migrant rights and they do have nice coverage of what’s on in this island.

    I also recognise the clear fact that we unfortunately have restrictions on press freedoms. All you need do is Google the phrase and you will see how the country is trending over the last 7 years.

    The issue that I do have with the GDN; however, is not that it operates within the allowed envelope – much like any other paper here, but in that it further restricts that envelope willingly by drawing the red lines closer in what its editors assume is the acceptable boundaries; thus, becoming more royal than the king, so to speak. Being the leading English paper, it behooves them to do better and push at those boundaries rather than pulling them closer to restrict themselves even further.

    The examples of this “denial” – if you like – are manifold; all you need do is pick up any issue after a perceived “crisis” in the country and read the “columns” by its publisher. The paper’s atmosphere then immediately collapses until one of its journalists slowly starts pushing against the lines to widen the gap a bit more.

    Being the more read English paper, that gives the impression to its readers – a lot of them are expatriate and disconnected from the day-to-day reality of this country – that everything is quite all right, with all that implies.

    Do I want to see the GDN get better and start reporting without embellishing situations and skewing them continuously toward the official line? Of course I do, and that is exactly the thrust of this post. In it I expressly recognised a good change happening. How people interpreted it as an attack (which I have done before and probably will do again) in this situation rather than heaping kudos on it because of this change is beyond me!

  16. Michael

    Thanks for your considered response Mahmood.

    I agree with much of what you say.

    I do still feel that ultimately it has its roots in the political system though. If the country didn’t favour a system of patronage then there would be little benefit for publishers in lionising certain figures day after day.

  17. Post
  18. Moonshallow

    Try reading the Bahrain Tribune… n see the difference, they too have expat reporters who understand the issues of the country. Be the judge yourself

  19. Post

    Oh I do and I appreciate what they write. Some of their reportage is far better than the GDN to be sure, but the issue here is that the GDN is the incumbent and it should be of a much higher standard than what it is currently at. These recent changes could be a harbinger of that change… we live in hope.

  20. Abu Arron

    Being the more read English paper, that gives the impression to its readers – a lot of them are expatriate and disconnected from the day-to-day reality of this country – that everything is quite all right, with all that implies.

    How true. Most expats have no idea of the social climate/disparity that exists and cannot understand why there are occasional demonstrations. Having said that, most expats don’t wander off their regular paths to see some of the poverty that exists within the villages. Apartment/work/hotel bar/apartment doesn’t equate to a thorough and/or realistic education. It is, therefore, encumbent upon the newspapers to educate (if they dare) the expats with hard facts.

    You’ll notice that I didn’t comment further upon the manner in which a few of these demonstrations descend into physical harm and vandalism. That’s a whole new thread which would generate thousands of responses.

  21. Astro

    Forget about the content. How about they start with the quality of the writing. The language is appalling. Someone please send them a copy of The Tmes Style Guide.

  22. Lee Ann

    I agree with Astro…its not so much what they write but how they write it….considering all the expats on that paper that assumingly understand and use the english language on a daily basis…we should expect better writing skills from them.

    btw if they are being paid Bd400 a month for what they do…Im applying for a job asap.

  23. MZ

    Actually, GDN is rumored to be shutting down. At least, this is what we hear in the media mill in Dubai.

    Perhaps they decided not to go without a bang?

  24. Loki

    Here’s an idea, get rid of the journalists at the GDN hire translators and distribute an english version of al wasat!

  25. Post
  26. I

    I somehow doubt that the demise of the GDN is as imminent as prophesied. They make too much money for someone out of the advertising. That golden goose is not liable to be killed off soon.

    Just my 2 fils

  27. The fish in GDNs tank

    Lee Ann,

    If you think that 400 BD per month for a full time journalist position on a national newspaper is good then you really don’t have much respect for the profession.

    Do you think someone like David Aaronovitch (The Times) would work for that kind of money? That’s why there isn’t a exodus of UK based hacks all running off to Bahrain to work for the GDN, despite the tax free salary.

  28. Moonshallow

    When will Mansoor Jamri launch the English newspaper— I bet it will be called- THE REFORMIST

  29. Lee Ann

    Hey Fish

    I was just commenting on the fact that they make more money then me…so wouldnt mind getting paid BD400 a month for my job…chiilllll!

  30. Lee Ann

    BTW I have a tentative offer to work on that new Jamri newspaper…so I shall see what the starting salary offer is…fingers crossed.

  31. The fish in GDNs tank

    OK Lee Ann, chill pill taken.

    From one Bahrain-based journalist to another, I
    hope they offer you a decent wage. Journalism along with education provision is seriously undervalued in this part of the world. Neither profession has ever been a path to riches but it seems that out here, its a path to poverty. No wonder the teachers are striking.

    Make sure they pay well, quality writing should not come cheap!!

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