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26 June, 2006

Breaking the news

It's always amusing when yet another poor fool launches himself into the market here with all sorts of patronising, grand statements of bringing "western journalistic standards":

"Our paper will publish a higher proportion of self-generated stories and we can do it better [than the existing business coverage]," said [Frank] Kane.

What Mr Kane fails to realise is that people have tried to do this time and time again. Yes - standards here are shit. Yes - there is a limited talent pool polluted by ignorant and untrained and mediocre and failed hacks from east and west. But there are also significant numbers of "western-style" journalists - including Arabs and Indians, many of whom have worked in London and New York and elsewhere - trying to raise standards. And at nearly every hurdle they fall.

Why? Because at the end of the day, the last thing any of the Dishdashes-That-Be want here is a truly free press. That's why government interference with supposedly independent papers is skyrocketing. That's why certain stories are blacked out here. That's why editors from the (ultra-tame by any western standard) are continually being pulled up over negative stories or topics. It's also why copy from state news agency WAM is cut-and-paste verbatim.

It's one thing being MEED, or Arabies Trends, or the BBC and carrying with you a certain amount of immunity. It's quite another thing to bring out a local daily paper and expect to be allowed to be the FT. Incredibly Terrible Publications, or "ITP" as we fondly call it, is one of the biggest and most powerful media groups here. Yet its editors have been forced to pull many stories and publish endless apologies across various titles.

Luckily for Mr Kane, his editor is significantly more savvy about the reality of the sandlands:

"It won't be easy. I don't think you can take a western journalistic model and implant it into the United Arab Emirates," said Mr Neil. "We will be operating in a different environment and we are not there to change society. That's up to the citizens there.

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32 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well as a hack who plied his trade in one of the newspapers in Dubai, we were constantly being held back owners who did not wish to anger the powers that be. A call from Abu Dhabhi was what they did not want under any circumstances. That buffoon in KT Ghaladari comes to mind. Simpering in his dishadash. The GF was no better.

Dubai is all about business and nothing else. Europe has Monte carlo, Asia has Dubai.

The attempt by the editor of the soon to be launched newspaper is commendable.

One harsh story and that will be that. good bye.

Duabi has certainly come along way. From a time when " crime" could not be mentioned in any of the stories to this age when they atleast talk about the labor problems shows that the media has come some way. But the road to be travelled is long.

I suppose the UAE is still a very young country still uncertain of its place on the world stage. Any criticsm makes it very uncomfortable. we will have to see how long this lasts. till then god help any one who crosses the line.

26 June, 2006 15:36  
Blogger Woke said...

On a micro level, the most worrying factor is that the majority of the newspapers/magazines revenue comes out of advertisements- and not from readership. Which means the quality of the publication itself will not be judged as it happens in other parts of the world and on the other hand newspapers will never publish articles against big companies in fear of losing ad revenue.
For newspapers to have an impact in this region, there needs to be a revolution.
Revolution? We are too busy eating lotuses aren't we?

26 June, 2006 15:49  
Blogger Seabee said...

Every time I read or hear statements like this I wonder whether the speaker really believes it, or is simply cynically rolling out the cliches.

I have a horrible feeling that many of them have done so little research and are so naive about the realities that they do actually believe what they're saying.

26 June, 2006 16:43  
Blogger Woke said...

I dont think they are unaware of the realities. It is not wise for a publication to launch itself with a statement saying that are just another of the just-write-what-they-say ones. It is another matter altogether if they are actually going to do it.

26 June, 2006 17:38  
Anonymous rabiddog said...

What the MoL really thinks

26 June, 2006 17:57  
Blogger Samawel said...

Have you noticed how Albayan seems to have a campaign against the 7DAYS? It seems to me as if the people at Albayan don't get that the 7DAYS is just a mini-tabloid-like free newspaper.

26 June, 2006 19:20  
Blogger Woke said...

rabiddog ...
thats a good one :D

26 June, 2006 19:32  
Blogger archer14 said...

I feel that a publication cannot be judged solely on the basis of what it choses to publish or not. A newspaper is supposed to be balanced. Meaning, a prof. who was "hit in the face" shouldnt be made the headline, it must be 'prof. assaulted'. Let us first begin with employing people who understand the nuances of the language. Only then can progress begin. Not one newspaper publishes news in the manner of it being [i]reported[/i]. It sounds more like your drunk neighbour trying to tell you what he had for dinner last week. Theres no detail, and certainly no standard of language.

I long for the editorials and quality of newspapers I left behind, like 'the hindu'. Local news NEVER make sense. A new law out? Vague as ever. A new rule? The same old thing. Its not going to improve.

But then, why improve? When the letters to the editor features the likes of people reporting scorpions in the swimming pool, people who don't like demeaning reports of their homeland (INDIANS), the lottery ticket not being validated via SMS, can we expect more?

26 June, 2006 22:24  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

Sorry Archer, but most of newspapers you left behind are in a terrible state. You can open any one to any page and point, and you'll be sure to find a grammatical or stylistic error. The loose approach to language that you describe is used all the time, especially by ToI-let and even the Express. And, I'm sad to say that even The Hindu has the most appalling grammar at times. Especially captions - sometimes I wonder if the captions are scribbled in by the newsboys on the way to deliveries.

The most common error though, is lack of respect for the meaning of a word. For example, a motorcycle review I read in... I think Auto India, used the word "turbo-charged" to describe a normally-aspirated motorcycle. That's the sort of hyperbole you'd expect a teenager to use when describing the perceived performance of his motorcyle. But in a published, auto-magazine context, "turbo-charged" has a very specific meaning, and it isn't a loose synonym for "fast" or "powerful". This sort of abuse goes on all the time.

A relative of mine subscribes to ToI, IE, The Hindu and the Asian Age. Even so, I have less to read than in just one edition of Gulf News. Wire copy is a lovely thing, enjoy it.

26 June, 2006 22:59  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

From the esteemed Hindu:

Maoists blast former MLA's house

Maoists blasted the house of former MLA and Congress leader Pasupuleti Balaraju in the small hours of Sunday.

According to information reaching here, five Maoists woke up Balaraju's mother, asked her to come out and blasted the house. The tiled house was partially damaged, it was learnt.

The blasting of Balaraju's house followed the setting afire of a Forest Department's jeep by Maoists and exchange of fire between the Police and Maoists on Saturday night.


That's a ferkin' joke, not a news report.

26 June, 2006 23:16  
Blogger archer14 said...

Well, The Hindu can go hardcore at times, often they write about the saffron brigade in such excruciating detail that even the fanatic monkeys themselves could learn a thing or two about their history. But where is the real meat in this newspaper? The editorials. Its where unbiased opinions are reflected, and gives you a much larger picture. Contrast that to the editorials here, it can hardly be called one. It's like a freaking 'moral science' reminder. ToI-let & Scrap express, the less said the better.

26 June, 2006 23:17  
Blogger archer14 said...

^^^Good grief, I stand corrected.

Maybe they are right, he was supposed to be blasted. :-)
The 'Blasting'...LOL!
ROMO!
But the professor, c'mon, he shouldn't be hit on the face, rt?

26 June, 2006 23:20  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

My point was more basic - the grammar and style stinks. I'm sure there are wonderful things in the edits, but what excuse is there to let the rest of the newspaper slide?

I posted that story, not for the content, but for the writing style. "...small hours of Sunday", "blasted the house", "according to information reaching here" and best of all, "exchange of fire". Did they pass each other Olympic torches?

This makes me angry because we have no excuse. Some people say, "It's not our native language". It is. If we're publishing newspapers in English, it is our "native language" and we'd jolly well better get it right.

26 June, 2006 23:25  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

Oh, we seemed to have missed each others posts! Sorry!

26 June, 2006 23:26  
Blogger archer14 said...

LOL! Now you're getting angry at the wrong post...btw, when will you resurrect your brilliant website?

26 June, 2006 23:29  
Blogger archer14 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

26 June, 2006 23:29  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

Re: website... Don't remind me... I feel guilty every time I think about it.

26 June, 2006 23:38  
Blogger al-republican said...

I agree. Newspaper standards are spiralling downwards rapidly in this part of the World. I used to read the following newspapers religiously every morning:

1- The Dawn (Pakistani paper)
2- The News International (another Pakistani paper)
3- The Times of India
4- The Hindustan Times
5- Khaleej Times

And a few others. But, barring the first 2 in that list, I am disappointed not just with the grammar (I never was too annal about it to start with), but with the level of coverage given to the entertainment industry! I used to love TOI, but it has been reduced to Times of Bollywood! What do I care how Salman Khan spent his days in jail and what "Bips" is up to these days!?

Pakistani papers still concentrate mostly on politics and reporting of World Events arond the World. Also, both Indian and Pakistani papers have excellent editorials. I find them more engaging and daring than their Western counterparts. The editorials in this part of the World are a joke! Add to it how people like Mr. Galadari always find time to write not one, but two ludicrous columns a day - God forbid if they are EVER about tackling local issues - passing judgements on societies Mr. Galadari wouldn't know much about anyways.

Khaleej Times prints Irfan Hussein's articles weekly. I am personally not a big fan of him (he would make a western liberal look like an amateur!) or his writing style, but I also catch his columns in The Dawn. I have noticed a funny trend: Everytime he writes something about the leadership in this part of the World, his article is missing that day of the week :P

27 June, 2006 10:47  
Blogger SIN said...

Take it from a local hack who has had the misfortune to work with not one but three of the glowing newspapers of this country - it's a training exercise in who gets to keep the most advertisers happy.

And a bad critique has gotten me a lawsuit, threats and abuses. All in a day's work.

When i read the Guardian the story yesterday all I could think was what fun it would be to burst the bubble for Mr Kane and his cronies. If any one of you are reading this, then pay heed to this warning:

You CAN'T criticize the government or their polices or the ruling families. You CAN'T say that after investing millions into projects like the Palms has yielded hardly any results (except for parts of the island falling into the water). And you specially CANNOT expect even a basic level of professionlism from the investors in your company.

While the idea is brilliant, God speed is all i will say.

27 June, 2006 14:17  
Blogger SIN said...

On a diff. note...SD, you have a mention in Campaign magazine, in the politically incorrect Spin section.

27 June, 2006 14:18  
Anonymous eve teaser said...

But then who will report on the scourge of EVE TEASING?

Taken from The Hindu:
"An interesting fact needs to be mentioned here. If one types `eve-teasing' in any internet search engine, you would be surprised that page after page of results are almost entirely Indian web pages."

Uh, maybe because you're the only retards who use such an abominable made-up term.

27 June, 2006 15:16  
Blogger secretdubai said...

eve-teaser - amen! It's a terrible example of local journalese wrongly used for an international audience.

27 June, 2006 18:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eve teasing like many other Indian-English terms is only used in India or by Indians.

27 June, 2006 18:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

egad guys we are discussing the quality of coverage and what can be covered or not covered in the uae , not the quality of launguage employed. If that was the case, we can blogs everyday about the howlers in the local media.


All the owners like any where else in teh world use their papers to promote their own interests. It happens in America, Europe , Asia. So nothing new about what happens over here in Dubai.

27 June, 2006 19:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And i REACH out on the internet and am once again blocked. It's all a joke, but we all know the score. Takes the money and runs.

27 June, 2006 19:28  
Blogger archer14 said...

@eve teaser
What about the morons who cash their checks and checks their tires? I guess we all are retards, eh?

27 June, 2006 21:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also like to note that it now looks like the Etisalat authorities are blocking the usage of Vonage (a Skype-like IP Telephony solution) in the UAE. Very progressive.
Justin Connor

27 June, 2006 22:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is off topic...

I would like to know if anyone heard rumors about Sheikh Hamdan is getting married?

28 June, 2006 00:04  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

Sadly this thread is already dead - hey SD, let the fighting begin before you post!! Eveteasing, yes it's a stupid term, but saying "you retards" says far worse things about you than I ever could.

And SD, yes amen to his point, but surely not to his way of getting it across...

28 June, 2006 04:15  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

Or her...

28 June, 2006 04:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: anon @19:13
The low standard of journalism here isn't only in regards to cowardly coverage, but it is also about the deplorable use of language and grammar. How can anyone possibly trust a paper full of writers and editors who cannot spell or misuse metaphors or make up words?! C'mon, it's all part and parcel of one shit industry.

28 June, 2006 13:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I really hate any country that pressure the media in any negative way.
But wait a minute, I think I am talking about most countries of the world!
I wonder how many of the US (or UK based for that matter) major news media criticized Bush plans to occupy Iraq, I am sure not so many dared being “unpatriotic” then.
Check western subtle censorship
http:www.projectcensored.org/censored_2006
Even a then ITP editor of A. Business said it was not only an inevitable war but necessary and popular.
So unless somebody , every now and then, tries to push the boundaries the media in the region will never move forward. Yes, it is going to be rough but isn’t it that rough all the time? You are surely used to only subtle/smart ways of censorship.

28 June, 2006 15:00  

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