JUST AN OPINION Even Homer Sometimes Nod [Archives:2000/20/Focus]

May 15 2000

By: Mohammed Khadher
It is an axiom for media to spot and to diagnose areas of failure and those of success in society . The media is responsible for both public and private sectors institutions to mirror their problems before the public, of course with appropriate remedial measures. Freedom of press in Yemen is constitutionally guaranteed. Therefore journalists have the right to express their opinions regarding any official or social phenomena in interest of the state and the society in general. Of course there are certain ethical boundaries and restrictions which are not allowed to exceed. But the relationship between press and most of state departments is regrettably not so smooth and free from troubles. In some cases it is even referred to courtrooms for legal settlement.
Some people do not want to acknowledge the patently patriotic role of press and the others are ignorant about it. Criticism for these people, even if it is constructive, is categorized as crime. They are swayed by criticism phobia, an evil that makes them averse to and suspicious of any sort of criticism, even if it is impersonal. Some civil servants think the state offices they work for are their own vassalage, no one is allowed to trespass. This kind of phobia should be avoided and such patients must be given the necessary remedy. The national press is supposed to be rooted in a sense of patriotism and is meant to work for the general welfare of the society and the state which is the main and essential part of its mission. When the press pinpoints certain mistakes or power abuses in some institutions, it is not purported to be personal criticism of the official heading that establishment but rather relates to the performance of the machinery of the institution under his responsibility. To rectify the poor performance would indeed be in favor of the official in charge of such authority. The fear for constructive criticism can be propelled by one of the following two reasons: either such people are careless and negligent and do not want to develop their establishment in a way to serve the general interest, or they are so keenly aware of their guilt that they do not want to have it spotlighted. To the latter category, the proverb, ” A guilty conscience needs no accuser.”, is perfectly applicable.
On the other part of the equation are those who are obsessed with criticism, mostly for the sake of criticism. And these can also be categorized as suffering from a certain serious illness. They could be described as suffering from criticism mania. They usually concentrate on fault finding without bothering themselves to be objective or to trace the causes and origins of the problem or fault they do criticize.
To counterbalance the equation of criticism, both parts of the equation must be subjected to treatment. Those who come under criticism, especially by press, should be open-minded and try to discern the kind of criticism they are confronted with, whether it is constructive or not, before giving their judgment and taking a stance. Those on the other part of the equation of criticism should abandon the pursuit of a policy of criticizing merely for the sake of criticism, be objective and not to rush judgments without thorough scrutiny.