Lack of Professionalism [Archives:2001/25/Focus]

June 18 2001
By Tawfeeq Al-Sharaabi
A free and responsible press is a key factor for the progress of any developing democracy. All media means in general play a crucial role in shaping the minds of people. They keep them aware of events, policies and decisions taken by the authorities. However, when these media agencies turn out to be deceptive means to propagate fictitious deeds and achievements and are in complete contradiction to the realities of the time, they certainly have a negative impact. They, in fact, deceives the public, making them live in a world of fantasy. However, the people soon wake up by the shocks of reality.
One can easily discern this state of affairs in our country if one browses various newspapers in the Yemen. While official newspapers are all out to create a rosy picture of affairs and conditions of the people, reality refutes and scatters all these allegations and reported myths to pieces. One could easily observe that many press institutions are not pursuing activities in a professional way. On one hand, official newspapers devote themselves more to report on welcoming and seeing high personalities off, laying the foundation stone for projects although nobody knows whether they will see the light of the day. The Yemeni TV channel is an illustration of this mess.
The opposition newspapers have also fallen in the trap of politics. It seems that they oppose for the sake of opposition. Many of them lack objectivity and credibility. Independent newspapers are swinging between the two. may be out of fear of the ruling power or to gain some self interest. This state of anarchy includes a wide bulk of newspapers published in the Yemeni market, numbering more than 100. This might be construed as an advantage and a positive omen for developing awareness about the importance of journalism and evoking an interest on the part of the public. However, when one browses many of these newspapers one can never fail to notice that there is no content or any trace of professionalism. The frantic efforts to publish newspapers and their diluted performance inevitably lead to some of these hastily launched ventures soon disappearing and becoming a matter of the past. Others depend mainly on donations from readers to sustain their publication.
I was utterly surprised to find a piece of news in one of the official newspapers claiming achievements of the government in curbing and combating poverty, promoting the development rate and above all, increasing the individual income. It was a clear mockery of the realities. If statistics bear out that the rate of poverty is more than 70%, the rate of the individual income of citizens is less than $ 1 a day and unemployment rate is 30% of the total work force. How come this is ignored! How come such reports are allowed to be published?
Is it just to beautify the picture of real misery? I wonder about the use of such reports if realities are far different. We need to promote a responsible press. Will press institutions understand this? I do pray so.