Double standards on region’s journalism

Powerful voices are questioning the popular view of the Arab media, claiming in its defence that it was getting confusing signals from the West.

  • E-Mail
By  David Ingham Published  December 31, 2003

Powerful voices are questioning the popular view of the Arab media, claiming in its defence that it was getting confusing signals from the West. Among the most outspoken was the general manager of Al Jazeera, who claimed his channel was being derided for applying the same rules to reporting western issues as had made it unpopular with many Arab nations. Speaking at the World Electronic Media Forum in Geneva, Wadah Khanfar noted that Al Jazeera had been accused various times of being a stooge of the CIA, the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and Al Qaida. They are criticisms that are also being applied more frequently to Al Jazeera’s emerging competitor, Al Arabiya, although the third major Arabic news provider, Abu Dhabi TV news, has thus far escaped criticism. Al Jazeera was the first pan-Arab TV broadcaster to give a platform to opposition voices, and to provoke discussion on controversial issues. Now Khanfar says it is being attacked for giving air time to dissident voices that did not please certain Western governments. “We can understand the hostility of dictatorial Arab regimes,” said Khanfar. “But now the US criticism is harsher, ironically.” Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists agreed that the West had given Arab media mixed signals. White pointed to the condemnation by the US administration of certain Arab journalists for exercising their right to express their views following the closure of Al Arabiya’s offices in Baghdad as an example. Many were merely reflecting regional public opinion. A journalist from Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah TV channel Al Manar claimed, “Double standards apply on the right to express your opinion freely. It depends on which part of the world you live in. ”London based specialist in Middle East communications, Naomi Sakr, agreed that the new channels had given a voice to Arab dissenters and that the competition between the channels stimulated competition, which in turn, led to greater professionalism. She added, however, that Arab TV channels had not yet achieved political independence as many still depended on grants and assistance from their governments.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code