WHAT IT MEANSMedia development in Yemen [Archives:2008/1148/Local News]

April 21 2008

Dr. Mohammed Mo'ammar Abdul-Wahab
Sana'a University Mass Media Faculty
[email protected]

The number of newspapers, magazines and web sites – be they organs of political parties, NGOs or even individuals – increases daily, thereby adding to the already existing state-run television and radio channels and newspapers. Further, it appears that the ubiquitous politically-oriented web site is a prominent feature on today's media scene.

Such diversity calls for a variety of opinions and enriches the creative and diverse environment. This vigorous media activity undoubtedly is a step forward, notwithstanding its minuses and foibles.

The most important result of such media activism is for their audiences to accept the other's opinion and stop categorizing this 'otherness' as treacherous and condemnable.

The media's influence is represented in the transformation of feelings and tendencies and controlling emotions and impulses in a remarkable manner. The media profession requires the press to be able to deal with various media outlets in such a way as to achieve the desired transformation in the target audience.

Generally speaking, applied media studies have shown that audiences are never passive and that they respond to a particular media message's target in light of the tendencies, values, principles and standards in which they believe.

Therefore, it's crucial that the press be equipped with knowledge to be able to identify the type of media message addressed to the audience so that the message effects the desired change and forms the required picture.

Communication occurs between a sender, whether an individual, a group or any entity, seeking to deliver a specific media message and a target receiver, be it an individual, a group or an audience.

The message is an essential component of this process, along with the channel or communication medium, which transfers the message – provided the channel is appropriate and suits the nature of the target audience.

Required development

At this stage of its development, the Yemeni media requires several steps. First, 1990's Press and Publications Law No. 25 drafted by the two partners of the Yemeni 22 May Unity remains as is, not having been developed to accommodate the changes occurring during the past 17 years; thus, it desperately requires proper amending.

Secondly, the media policy manifested in the principles upon which media outlets work must be developed based on the Yemeni Constitution, in addition to national goals and economic trends. They must be adapted to the current situation.

Third, all of us must advocate for privatized television channels and radio stations. Many citizens still fear this and are apprehensive about its possible dangers.

Fourth, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate must be supported, as in past months, it has displayed its relentless professional advocacy for the rights of the press and journalists, thanks to its reliable leadership.

All journalists and national press should propel this syndicate forward without any form of selectivity, favoritism or self-seeking interests because this country is for everyone.

Finally, we can't ignore training, which is essential. Media staff must acquaint themselves with cutting-edge media techniques and technologies and monitor pertinent developments worldwide.

They should be enabled to attend both local and international symposiums, group discussions and conferences in order to exchange experiences with fellow journalists and press and further hone their skills.

A different world

Media policies and regulations represent national issues that must be reconsidered for development and involve all interested parties in their drafting and preparation. We must reach some type of consensus regarding them and then apply them practically.

Irrespective of present circumstances, Yemen's media sector must be developed, improved and purified of its blemishes quickly.

Everyone must understand that the contemporary period in which we live is quite different from the world a few years ago. For example, the communication and media revolution has led to incredible leaps in communication technologies – so much so that we no longer can close our borders and erect barriers between people and information.

Today, people can surf audio and video channels, web sites, browse newspapers and get news from various uncensored sources; thus, to continue resisting privatized television and radio is irrational.

The media outlets we yearn for should be devoid of past complexes and a double understanding of freedom. Likewise, they should be free of extremism and fanaticism, emphasize nationalism over localism and freely and openly discuss public issues.

The media is the driver and the voice of social activity, transcending humankind beyond its instincts toward the sought-after paramount goals of civilization.