On the heels of two reports highlighting – and criticizing – Qatar’s media landscape, the Peninsula has openly acknowledged that local newspapers here publish press releases verbatim, avoid investigative reports and generally toe the line to stay in business.
In a series of editorials today, the newspaper blames unethical and “lazy” journalists for being a big part of the problem:
“Qatar’s newspaper industry is busy pleasing people by lavishing praises, whereas they should be a mirror to the society and government. Their job is to point out errors and irregularities and not lavish praises,” said a media analyst not wanting his name in print due to the sensitivity of the issue…
Journalists have become lazy and are concerned about their survival and that explains why they have become dependent on press releases, news conferences, launches and boring lectures to fill the local pages of their newspapers.
The newspaper also insists that the whole system needs overhauling, from adjusting the expectations of pushy public relations and government agencies to raising journalists’ pay so more locals will enter the industry:
Some institutions consider themselves as holy cow and their often arrogant officials insist that their press handouts be published without any alterations or editing. Corporate releases seldom have anything concrete to say and their whole purpose is to gain cheap and free publicity…
It is not surprising that media freedom is a casualty in Qatar, say critics. According to them, one cannot expect expatriate journalists to bring about the desired changes, for they cannot be bold and critical. “If nothing, an expatriate journalist writing critically can be fired by his boss. So he is a weak link in the entire cycle,” said a critic.
Even if salaries are raised, good journalism requires taking risks and working long hours, making it difficult to attract Qataris to the field, it added.
Credit: Photo by Marvin Fernandez