Vanity or stupidity?! [Archives:2005/856/Viewpoint]

July 4 2005

The Editorial Board
For the second time Yemen hosts an international high level event. The Organisation of Islamic Conferences known as the OIC held its 32nd Foreign Ministers Conference in Sana'a between 28th and 30th of last month. The 31st conference took place in Turkey in May last year, and many Islamic countries attended last year's conference as well as this year's. When intending to do the coverage of this year's conference a massive hurdle faced us; there was no information available. Not only to media but the participants also did not know the program and the details of the three-day conference until the end of the first day. Yemen opted for hosting this conference since May last year and it was embarrassing how it was not prepared. What was more unnerving was how the media was ignored and shoved around from one place to another without any consideration or respect. This is not the first time such harassment takes place yet it was really embarrassing for us as Yemeni media to face the correspondents from foreign newspapers and TV stations who have come all the way to cover the event, and try and explain why there is no information available and why the media are forbidden from meeting with any of the participants or the delegates at the conference.

What our government must understand is that it is media that highlights success or failure of any event whatsoever. If an important event takes place and there is no adequate media coverage then to the public it is as if this event didn't even take place at all. The media has the right to know the details of the event so as to comment and evaluate. From the only press release on the event on the OIC website only the outlines of the agenda to be discussed were revealed. If this is all the information available then might as well look at last year's event and analyse it because many of the items in the agenda did not change and we would certainly say that this conference was simply a waste of time. The media had to depend on luck and keep visiting the hotels where the delegates stayed to try and get some statements.

In view of the current political circumstances such conferences are very important and it is critical that practical results are concluded. Have we reached a level where leaders meet for the sake of meeting? If this is not the case then why was such an important event not organised and prepared for well? If it was an interesting and rich conference then how come the media did not know much about it? Every citizen has the right to know why those leaders are meeting and what they are discussing. It is the media's role to convey this information and give further insight to the event.

Were the organisers too proud to reveal any information and thought that media was not a stakeholder or were they stupid enough not to understand the importance of getting a good objective coverage for the event? The treatment the media got reflects on what they say and how they comment about the event. We cannot comment objectively because we have nothing to work on. If this is really what the organisers wanted then here's to another failure of the Islamic world!