On professional manners in journalism [Archives:2005/850/Opinion]

June 13 2005

I never thought that newspapers should be turned into battlegrounds for people of differing views to unleash their complexes, biases and ingrained hatreds against what they perceive as their lifelong enemies. Yet, sometimes one cannot help notice that our newspapers have sometimes been profoundly misused to express the misguided notions perceived by some of our immature intellectuals who are still bogged down in ancient stereotyping and rejection of others. I have always wondered if these intellectuals are unable to find a more worthwhile cause that will advance the interests of their people and infuse our culture with enlightenment that will help advance the course of progress and development we wish our country to tread on.

Thus, this observer could not help but wonder why one of our colleagues decided to pursue his own hate agenda, while presumably criticizing the observations of another fellow journalist on the current Yemeni scene. Needless to say, Mr. Yahya Al-Olfi, who has sometimes written some interesting insights into our culture and society, was not truly adhering to sound professional journalistic practice by using derogatory statements against Jane Novak, the American journalist, a few issues back. Ms Novak has contributed many articles to the Yemen Times and lately sought to use her well researched knowledge on Yemen, acquired from her presence here for a couple of years, and from her keen follow up on developments in the country to contribute to the civil and human rights issue in Yemen. There is no argument against the right to differ in opinions or outlooks and what has recently occurred in Sa'ada and other developments that the media, both locally and internationally has been interested in covering about Yemen. But there is absolutely no excuse for using derogatory language in expressing views about fellow journalists, who may differ in their perception of the situation in Yemen, or about the issues that raised such derogatory criticism. For this, I think Jane Novak is due an apology from the YT, for allowing such derogatory language to be used on a good friend of the YT and I take the liberty of expressing the sincere apology for this editorial oversight. I realize that Jane has been allowed the right to respond to the article by Mr. Yahya Al-Olfi against Ms. Novak, but this observer is compelled to express an assurance that the opinions expressed by Mr. Olfi are purely his own and are not shared by the Editors of the Yemen Times. Our professional code entitles Ms Novak to get an official assurance that Ms. Novak continues to be accorded the highest respects by the Yemen Times. We, in the YT, emphasize that we are a forum for differing views to be expressed, but such views should never be allowed to cross the threshold of professional conduct and mutual respect for our colleagues in the field.

We look forward to continue to receive the contributions of Ms. Novak, as well as feedback by other journalists who may not be in agreement with her, but we will definitely take care to ensure that adherence to sound professional behavior and practice are the rule and not the exception.

I will not delve into the issues and points raised by Mr. Olfi, because the astute observer sees no merit in arguing for or against criticism that is based on engrained biases and stereotypes that do not reflect any intellectual maturity or objective assessment of the contents of Ms. Novak's observations.

All one can say is that we, in the Yemen Times, have a respect for different points of views and are ready to stand by those who earnestly believe that they have something worthwhile to point out to the world about the realities of the Yemeni situation. That is what Ms. Novak feels she is doing and we are convinced of the genuineness of her sincerity in this pursuit.