|al-Sharq al-Awasat coverage|
Journalism in Arab countries: With the increased violence and potential for sectarian war in the Middle East, one would think that the media and journalists would pay more attention to details, facts, and the language they use to report about the death and destruction in that part of the world. Instead, journalist and the media in general sided with their benefactors or religious/ethnic community, betraying the profession and their duty to objectively inform the public.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, which wanted to be the New York Times of the Arab world showed its true identity: the mouth piece of the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Aljazeera, whose funders wanted it to be the BBC of the Arab world, resigned to its limited true function: serving the Qatari ruling family and its political allies—the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey. Alarabiya has become the Fox News of the GCC ruling families. Alahram serves Sisi… and the list goes on.
Here is an example of the kind of headlines the “professional” journalists at al-Sharq al-Awsat ran recently:
5 nations cut their diplomatic relations with Iran… and the world condemn its violations
It did not cross the mind of Iran that its attacks on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Tehran and Mashhad would open the doors of hell on it, including the cutting of diplomatic ties…
[The headlines and opening sentence sound ominous. But the rest of the news story would make you think that you are reading a satirical piece on The Onion or watching a story on the fake news program, The Daily Show. The 5 countries that cut relations with Iran are:
Saudi Arabia (the country the just executed 4 and beheaded 43 including a religious scholar whose crime was “criticizing wali al-amr [the ruler]”)
Bahrain (the tiny kingdom that serves as a bar and resort for the Saudi princes and princesses)
Sudan (Whose president cannot travel much because he faces arrest for war crimes and genocide)
Djibouti (where the hell is Djibouti)
Somalia (does this country actually has a government?)
Arab journalists’ dereliction of duty during these difficult times will make a grave situation graver. In the past, and during peace time, people of that region were used to the media serving as the propaganda tools in the hands of authoritarian rulers. People did not take them seriously. However, with civil wars raging in a handful of Arab countries, the need for accurate information is compelling and Arab journalists ought to take their responsibilities seriously.