Yemen and the international media [Archives:2005/863/Viewpoint]

July 28 2005

Again Yemen has been categorized unsafe for traveling because of the latest demonstrations as the international media lashed on the country with all its might. As much there is no excuse for the violence and destruction that took place, there is also no reason why the international media should aggravate the recent negative situation simultaneously ignoring the positive one that just took place when the president declared not running for presidency again.

It is enough that Yemen as an underdeveloped country has to face its own deficiencies and huge disabilities in all sectors especially politically and economically. And seriously we do not need the international media luxuriously playing with the words, manipulating events so as to suit the perception the majority of the west has of Yemen, practicing selective amnesia with our news.

Yemen has so much to offer and it is highly unfair to ignore the positive aspects of this country and concentrate on the negative issues. The negative publicity affects our economy, tourism and international credibility. The fact that Ali Abdullah Saleh was the very first president of his kind who decides to step down and promote peaceful passing of power did not get much publicity in the international media. It seems that the western media chooses news that sells off, otherwise why else would only the negative aspects of this country get promoted?! Even when the issue of the president was approached its legitimacy was questioned and it was commented on as an early campaign for the coming presidential elections.

However it also seems unfair to condemn the foreign and international media regarding their coverage on Yemen while the Yemeni media itself is not doing much about it. The lack of professionalism and objectivity is one of the main problems facing media in Yemen. The media is mostly politically driven and unfortunately many critical issues are ignored locally because of ignorance or bias. There are many attempts to enhance the role and status of media in Yemen, but like anything else in this country it takes a very long time until something satisfactory is achieved. So while the developed world or say the more advanced media is sympathizing with the democratic attempts and freedom of speech projects in the Yemeni media, they should have looked home and objectively critic their own abilities in fairly tackling international issues first. Yes we have a problem in Yemen but the western media is not doing much to help, and in fact, I think they too have a problem in being objective.

No one can deny the impact of media on a country's reputation. It could significantly enhance the status of a country or simply categories it as a blacklisted territory. We don't want that to happen to Yemen. Yemen is a beautiful country with potentials and deserves better treatment from both its people and the rest of the world.