Why does YJS deprive hundreds of reporters of its membership? [Archives:2008/1170/Opinion]

July 7 2008

Abdulwahid Al-Sharafi
[email protected]

Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) has not accepted hundreds of working reporters, who already applied for its membership. Between its third conference last year and its fourth conference, scheduled for coming July, only 289 journalists were granted membership in the syndicate.

This number is very low, compared to the large number of applications submitted by reporters from the various governorates to the syndicate. Others complained that their applications were rejected for allegedly lacking requirements that they themselves didn't know, nor were they informed about these requirements prior to submitting their applications.

The only exception in this regard is a declaration made by one of the YJS Council members, saying that those deprived of the syndicate's membership have not meet the requirement of obtaining a university certificate. He adds that other journalists' applications were rejected because most of the applicants work as reporters for newspapers. “They are not central editors,” according to the declaration.

Having a glance at the university qualification, which is included in the list of requirements set up by the syndicate, we find that granting a valid membership to an applicant necessitates that he/she must hold a university degree in any major.

The most important thing for an applicant is to have a bachelor's degree in any major. This makes us question, “What is the value of a university certificate in a major other than journalism?”

When it comes to university degree holders in majors other than journalism, we believe that this should be treated as equal to the cognitive qualification in the journalistic profession to be demonstrated by a membership applicant. Any data obtained by a university certificate holder with regard to journalism are the same as the data acquired by high school leavers and post-high school diploma holders.

This point has taken us to the role of experience in journalism and how vital it is to improving performance and personal skills of a journalist. Through experience, YJS can assess the performance and skills of a journalist applying for membership. And experience must include the applicant's ability to report, edit, attract the readership and deal with critical situations.

Experience comes first irrespective of the applicant's qualification, be he/she a high school leaver or a university degree holder. Experience should be seen as the primary and indispensable requirement to be met by an applicant in order to obtain a valid YJS membership.

Criteria applied in other countries:

A proof in support of this is that membership requirements listed by journalists syndicates in the majority of countries around the world concentrate much on the criteria of experience, competence and creativity. The three are inarguably successful, objective and professional requirements.

Another obstacle facing YJS membership seekers coming from the various Yemeni governorates is the derogatory look on the part of the syndicate's registration committee staff who underestimates the role of local newspapers' correspondents. They see them as interlopers to the profession, immature, or as if they don't understand the arts of journalism.

On the other hand, YJS considers a central editor in any paper as the functioning journalist whose role is mostly limited to editing and modifying an available press material according to his mood, but underestimates the role of a reporter who collects data and reports facts on the ground. The latter is the one who usually works hard and contributes more 80 percent to the production of a press material.

While collecting data on the ground, reporters are often subjected to harassments and arbitrary practices due to their being available at the scene of any event. Central editors, on the contrary, confine themselves in the editing room to stain a good press material produced by a creative reporter.

Due to the derogatory look demonstrated by YJS registration staff, local reporters are deprived of their right to affiliate with a union the maximum support it can deliver to a reporter when he/she faces assaults or harassments is releasing a statement denouncing what happened to him/her. This is all what our syndicate does in support of a journalist coming under attack.

An YJS membership applicant doesn't seek post of the syndicate's president or secretary general. As far as I am concerned, the main reason why hundreds of reporters are denied their right to obtain membership is the syndicate's fear that these reporters may change the available scale of votes, thereby risking stay of a currently serving president or secretary general in the syndicate, particularly as the fourth conference is drawing nearer and nearer. The syndicate doesn't want a new face to lead it, and this is why it attempts to maintain the same scale of votes reproducing the same leadership again and again.

The clearest evidence in support of this is that some members of the syndicate's council postponed reviewing the situation of regional reporters applying for YJS membership until the fourth conference is over. This procedure is likely to enrage regional reporters and encourage them to comprise similar unions for them in the various governorates.

Source: Al-Tagheer.net