Lack of resources among its challenges Independent media should fix its own house [Archives:2003/07/Reportage]

February 17 2003

Journalism is an ensured tool in activating all the liberty concepts and freedom of speech. And it is the effective instrument in reflecting the public concerns and in monitoring any illegal and wrong practices in any situation or time.
Therefore, there came a necessity of producing a journalism that expresses all opinions and represents all sectors of the society, like the government press, public press, political party press and others.
In our country in particular, various types of newspapers exist and the press laws and articles regulate any procedures related to journalism and publications. This law in essence enforces the respect of the Islamic constitution and faith and the welfare of the country as a whole. And the natural mechanism is that there is government journalism, opposition, public and private journalism and most important, independent journalism.
In Yemen, the number of various newspapers and publications 257 according to 97 statistics according to the Ministry of Information.
These are allowed to exist under Article 23 of the journalism law, Chapter 3, where it is says:
“The right to issue a publication and its ownership is granted to individuals, authorized political parties, general personalities and establishments, creative organizations, ministries and government associations according to the law.”
And over looking the articles and details of this law, we are trying here to throw some light on what is termed as independent journalism and the factors that affect it whether negatively or positively in a brief way.
If we were to notice the situation of the independent media in Yemen, we see that there is a number of deficiencies in the duty of the independent journalism towards its public in Yemen.
Independent Journalism suffers especially in what are called Third World countries in more than one way.
The financial funding could be considered one of the main pillars on which the continuity of any publication is based on. Most of the independent newspapers and publications have stopped due to the lack of funding, especially with the rising of issue costs such as paper and printing.
Another obstacle is the escaping of intellectual writers from many newspapers because there is no financial reward the newspaper could offer. When it comes to a living, it is more important to feed your family than to write in an independent newspaper. As a consequence, such newspapers have been publishing its issues on and off according to the feasibility, so they somewhat lost their credibility, and hence, readership.
The reason for this failure is the non-ability of creating internal sources of income for these papers, and here the advertisement plays a vital role. The observation is that independent newspapers that maintained their existence have taken a particular strategy to balance written materials and advertisements. This way it supported itself by itself and managed to improve its performance as well create by that a trigger for advertisers and the cycle goes on.
Another obstacle is the lack of credible sources for information. The information monopoly exists in a terrible way in our country and in such countries, and the solution is to create an awareness in such fields so as to allow exchange and spread of information, and to deal respectfully with journalists who seek the information.
In addition to that, there is the fact that most independent newspapers always are confronted by many sides (government, businessmen or authorities). In the face of these confrontations, the journalist fails to find support from any local organization because there is no enforcement of the laws, and not much respect to freedom of speech.
The side of it is that most of independent newspapers and media organizations disregard their own staff rights and interests although they brag to the outside world about human rights, freedoms and the like. Most of these organizations financially deal with the workers on temporary bases where the employee is threatened to be sacked at any moment, ignoring the fact that this person needs financial security and stability to work more effectively and creatively. Many independent newspapers do not deal with its journalist on contract bases and so their situation is relatively bad.
If independent journalism continues operating in this chaotic way, writers and journalists will be reporters and conveyors of news, but nothing more. This disregards their own minds and talents and they will wait to jump at a better living and way than that offered by the independent press. It is a shame to preach and not do. There are enough challenges independent journalism faces from outside. Shouldn’t the inside be better?