Journalism: Between profession and mimicry [Archives:2007/1047/Opinion]

May 3 2007

By: Ismail Al-Ghabri
When journalists play the role of an observer of what they write, they lose much of the core contents represented by credibility, self-satisfaction, and freedom. Consequently, the pen becomes similar to an instrument for drawing sounds without souls while the ink turns into merely a color to mark the frequencies of sounds on a white space.

When journalism turns into a group of Sofism paths, it riskily harms its survival. Further, it becomes separated from the daily life and avoids criticizing different phenomena concerned with the everyday life, resulting in slim difference between profession of the journalist and his favourable mask, which makes him enthusiastic to defend ethics of the noble profession.

In the developing countries, there is no remarkable difference among the various press forms in terms of the general content. Even if there is a slim difference, it is in the fashion when media institutions introduce the most modern printing techniques for the sake of futile contents that fail to compensate for the cost. Additionally, introducing such printing techniques is considered to reflect development and advancement of press.

The lack of establishing authentic journalistic traditions embodies the concept of the modern civil community in a way confusing between the official newspapers, press printings, and journalists, on the one hand, and street vendors on the other.

Imitating the form that dominated some of the mental faculties, which found themselves in a face-to-face position with illusive materialistic facilities, the content was merely a mixture, the ingredients of which can be provided via attracting various writers.

Several people believe that journalism means writing and has no job description of its own like other careers of deep human contents, as well as wills and responsibilities grown by reading, writing, and integrating in different areas of journalism.

Writing is a creative intellectual work that helps the writer earn reputation and respect in his surroundings. It also makes him able to depict the problems, sufferings of the daily life so as to explain them in expressive words.

Again, Journalism is not only writing. Rather, it is an activity and a career with its own privacy. We cannot call a great writer a journalist while he is engaged in other job, or to give him another job title while he doesn't occupy a professional prestige at any press or media institution.

The writer considers writing a creative and intellectual effort and not a profession. Besides, other great writers, who covered huge events, such as the World War II, were called correspondents of military media means, which were publishing their news, report investigations, and stories. Ultimately, they were named writers.

The journalistic writing is merely a description and elaboration in the form of intensive and direct statements without any need for the symbol, particularly in the modern journalism. The press in the developing countries is exposed to terrible threat standing in their way while attempting to compensate for its main tasks and get closer toward the daily issues of people. All these problems don't reflect the significance of these publications to defend their survival and the human role they play. But being remiss and careless about their duties, journalists and media institutions find themselves engaged in conflicts with each other.

The press and publication law in any country often reflects development and advancement of journalism, printing and publication. In total contrast, the firm laws restrict the production of media while media syndicates and unions turn to be loyalists with their regimes.

Historically, “press freedom” is known as such because it was printers and newspapers that fought for this right which nowadays refers to media in general. It is a right that goes beyond an individual's freedom of expression, much as it is also built upon that right. In many places, it is privately-owned newspapers that continue this quest or help preserve victories against powerful forces who are sensitive to certaint information becoming public. The question be addressed here is the extent to which the battleground of press freedom today has a new frontier that incorporates cyberspace. This also entails taking stock of the main forces in the realm of new media, and indeed whether old and new media are even on the same side in respect of this new arena. There are also questions of tools, tactics and issues in the contest for and against “press freedom” in this non-traditional environment.

Ismail Al-Ghabri is a Senior Yemeni journalist, working in Yemen Times for almost 14 years.