Arab media can help development [Archives:2005/815/Viewpoint]

February 10 2005

The conference held in Jordan on Feb. 6-7 on “Good Governance: for Development in the Arab Countries” was a step forward in identifying the importance of initiating genuine reforms to achieve comprehensive development in the Arab world.

One of the important issues discussed was the role of the media in good governance although remarkably, none of the Arab delegations attending the conference were keen to emphasize the role of the media. The emphasis only came from the donor countries that were present. In one of the speeches of a Western donor country, the speaker stated that Arab governments should enable the media to assess and monitor progress in the reform process.

A US representative highlighted the clear links made between the media and Arab governments, saying “benchmarks must be set and monitored to measure the progress of Arab countries in implementing those reforms.”

In my opinion, it is an excellent idea to start a project involving independent media outlets in the Arab world to help create and implement a mechanism to effectively measure and comment on progress made in reform measures.

It was obvious from the high-level participation of the Yemeni delegation to this conference that Yemen is committed to endorsing the reforms and implementing the steps mentioned in the final declaration. As a newspaper then, we should report this to the public and list the different tasks that the government is expected to carry out and the goals that it still needs to achieve.

The Yemen Times has formulated a project to allocate a half page on a regular basis to a table that illustrates how far the Yemeni government has gone in implementing certain reforms. This will accompany a graph to reflect the level of seriousness and dedication of the government in implementing those reforms.

The reform process in Yemen will be like a race between many contestants. Each contestant is a governmental sector trying to achieve reforms. Each contestant starts from zero (or whatever level it is currently at) and must reach the finishing line (goal achieved). This goal could be an elementary goal, which can then be enhanced to another higher-level goal.

Having a very wide readership, particularly within educated local and international communities, the Yemen Times can have great impact on the image of the Yemeni government showing whether it is genuinely progressing or just giving empty promises.

If this process succeeds, I believe that it can be duplicated to match the needs of each individual country. Then we can use those statistics, which are obtained using reliable sources and scientific methods, to formulate general reports to indicate the progress achieved for Arab countries as a whole. However, without some assistance from international organizations and cooperation from the governmental sector, this project may not succeed.

Stay close! The project could be underway soon.