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May 2 2005

It was time for parliamentary elections – not in Yemen, the candidates had well in advance made their campaigning plans and had started implementing. They knew that their only choice was through persuading the people to vote for them. They worked through public speeches, advertisements on TV, radio, banners in the streets, visits to the universities and other public assemblies chanting their missions as to why he should be elected.

When the multinational company that was based in any where else but Yemen saw the competition growing and felt that it wanted to enhance its image, it launched its publicity campaign. Leaflets about the company were distributed on the streets, it arranged for a press conference to brag about its achievements and conducted a charity exhibition in which the media – of course – was a number one guest.

An international organization working in development outside Yemen realized that development has to go hand in hand with awareness. So it created an agenda for awareness in which it promoted healthy practices and tried through seminars and workshops to install ownership of the development program among the target groups. It printed small educational booklets and distributed them in the schools and health centers and then conducted a research to see the impact it had created through using the media in its awareness campaign.

The Ministry of Education of X country – definitely not Yemen – has launched a new project that promotes girls' education. It bought spaces in every popular newspaper, TV show and radio programs and worked through the mosque preachers to advocate for the cause. High officials gave encouraging press statements and the educational system authorities were interviewed more than once in the papers to talk about this project.

All the efforts went in vain trying to hide the scandal of a high official in X – non Yemeni – government from the media. However, the media was alert and did not miss the signs. It embarked on the issue and the official found his name on all newspapers in the front page. It was like a storm and skies were falling to earth on his head until two weeks later he shot himself in his grand villa. He was found clutching a newspaper in his hands that had openly exposed his bad deeds.

The media sure is strong, you can never underestimate its power and you have to always consider its impact. It's the guardian angels of the people, the watch dog for their resources and the haunting ghost of the government, any government but not that of Yemen.