Not too late for donors:Media receives attention [Archives:2004/747/Viewpoint]

June 17 2004

At last, donors have come to realize that if there is to be a useful and concrete strategy to help Yemen develop, then that should also include the media. It is about time that they realized the potential contribution of the media to the overall development of Yemen.
As media men, we are now more hopeful than anytime in the past about a possible helping hand for Yemen's media.
For so many years, newspapers and reporters have always been used for reporting and publicizing activities of others. They have always been the bridge to serve others, but rarely been the target of assistance and help.
Today, they are the ones who are given a helping hand. With the current Danish mission working in this field in Yemen, we are optimistic that it will indeed bring a difference in the lives of journalists and newspapers and in their role in Yemen's development.
“You are now the target, don't just do a report and go home” is what I told reporters the other day during the coffee break during one of the sessions of the Danish mission to explore potential assistance areas for the media. Many of the journalists who were present could not understand the idea behind the session. “Didn't they call us just to do a report on this activity? What else should we do?” are questions they kept on asking me.
It is unfortunate that the state of disbelief had dominated many journalists who could not get over the idea that they are not there to report but there to receive help.
It is a pity that our political system had enslaved reporters in many ways by ensuring that they are mere reporters, with no ability to respond or interact. Thousands of journalists working for the public media were trained to receive articles from top and not to question or even discuss what they receive. They are more or less simple interpreters in a passive and inactive manner.
Now we want to change all of that. We want to build a media environment that dignifies the journalists and pays him/her respect and gratitude for his/her role in the society.
Today, with the help of our Danish friends and other donors, we are willing to change this sober reality for the better.
The commitment is there.
The ideas are there.
The need is there.
What is now needed is the commitment of donors to support this sector that has been neglected for so far. It is pay back time for those individuals who spared no time or effort to bring publicity to donors, governments, institutions, and others. It is time to reward them for their hard work in achieving something by reporting to millions of Yemenis throughout the year.
Their reward is not more than just a tribute to the media and their people. I believe that the future will be much brighter when we have a professional, efficient, strong, and honest media.
Let us hope that the donor community and our government realize the potential here.
Let us pray for a revolution that will bring our media to a higher level.