Saturday, September 17, 2011

Drawing the line between career & ethics, a personal letter to journalists

This post is a letter addressed to some journalists in Yemen. At the outset, let me admit that this post is SO trivial, especially in light of what's currently happening in the country. I blame frustration and fatigue for this piece. Nevertheless, the subject was making me upset, so I decided to write about it and hear your thoughts on whether I'm justified in feeling this way or not.

Dear journalists,

I was shocked when I found out that some of you attended a party at the palace last week. I understand that working in Yemen is different than other countries, and that in order for a meeting to take place, you have to have many informal meetings first. In addition, lunch or a qat session often count as “meetings” here. But to me, going to a party at the palace (during this time), where public money is spent to provide your entertainment, food, and drinks was crossing the line. It can not be considered a meeting, even in the very informal atmosphere of Yemen.

Of course journalists need to meet both sides, and of course you have the right to meet with the nephews and the sons of the president if you please, but a party does not constitute a meeting. (note, in Yemen, unlike other countries, it's SUPER easy to meet any top government official, so please stop showing off about how you met them, it doesn't reflect your journalistic abilities, it just reflects the friendly country you live in).

Going to a party at the palace is surely a great way to build your contact network, and a good way to make friends with the government for “protection purposes”, but isn't it against journalistic integrity to attend these parties? Surely if your bosses know they might be upset? (or at least I hope so!).In addition, where would you draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not, what is ethical and what is not.

If you were based in Libya, would you attend a party thrown by Saif al-Islam? And if you did, would you understand why the revolutionaries would be quite upset about that?

I know that socially, there are very few things to do in Yemen, and maybe it was curiosity that drew you there, but please note that your actions have consequences on your reputation in Yemen. I also hope that you can think about this action more deeply and see it from different perspectives. 

Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I also know that reality is often not black or white, most of the time things are in the grey. 

Finally, I'm sorry if I offended you, it is really not my intention.   If it was any other time, I wouldn't be as critical. In the end, you have the right to do whatever you want, and I have the right to feel anyway I want :)   To the journalists who's profile doesn't fit this description, I apologize about this post, and I obviously don't mean YOU by it. 

a concerned citizen

p.s writing this out did make me feel better, so thanks!


Salim said...

لا اتفق ابدا مع التعقيب الدبلوماسي الأخير
you have the right to do whatever you want
لا أحد يمتلك حق فعل ما يحلو له في هذه الحياه ، أبسط فعل يقوم به المرء ينعكس على مجتمعه وعلى من حوله. الإنسان في الأخير منخرط أكثر مما يظن أو يعتقد في المصائر الإنسانية والمجتمعية والأمر يصبح أكثر دقة وحساسية في أوضاع كالتي تشهده بلادنا . بضع كلمات أو فعل لا مبالِ أو تعليق ساذج قد يدفع ثمنه الأبرياء من دماءهم

شكرا على المقال ، وإن كان لطيفاً أكثر مما ينبغي تجاه أفعال الآخرين اللامسؤولة أخلاقيا


ASH said...

The most factors that influence our journalists that they are looking for celebrity and good income money, this is what I see from many journalists that I know.

MikeD said...

I really enjoy the insight. Would you mind writing/cross posting in Tiklar? - It is a citizen journalist website that is completely user powered-and free.


Tanya said...

ASH! Many foreign journalists put their life at risk to tell the story of Yemen, the uprising, the people, to people in their home country. They refuse to write for the big national - and international - papers because they can not put their name on the stories the editors ask for. Also, many journalists in Yemen say no to the parties in "the Palace" and to hang out with the people in the government. Celebrity and good income is a reality for very few and I believe most don't get motivated by such nonsense.

WomanfromYemen said...

سليم: الحرية الشخصية حق من الحقوق التي لا استطيع ان انكرها حتى ولو كرهت الفعل. المجتمع طبعا لهو دور كبير في رسمالحرية الشخصية وهذه تختلف من شخص الى اخر ومن مجتمع الى اخر.
ASH, while there are some journalists that do follow the celebrity status, i know many who are not like that at all. There are some amazing journalists here in Yemen who care so much about the country, and are even sacraficing their life
Mike, glad you liked it, i'll check out the blog and let you know.
Tanya, i agree & thank you to all those amazing journalist :)