Emirati ex-journalist Taryam Al Subaihi wrote an editorial in Sunday’s The National newspaper on the common practice of bribing journalists in the UAE to receive favorable coverage:
Even though these practices may only apply to a minority of journalists, they still threaten to compromise the entire media sector. Action should be taken to educate not only journalists, but also PR agencies, other companies and public sector organisations about the dangers of seemingly innocuous gifts. Not only does the practice compromise an individual journalist’s integrity, but it does a disservice to everyone because of the biased coverage that people will recognise as propaganda.
Good stuff. I’ve been hearing for a long time that this practice was a problem here — good for Taryam to point it out. (He’s a student in my graduate class at Zayed University, where we’ve discussed the UAE’s need for stronger ethics in journalism.)
The reaction of the Twitter community was quite positive. Here’s a storify I compiled of reactions from the local Twitterati, including UAE stalwart Sultan Al Qassemi.
The Society of Professional Journalists is quite clear on this issue. Their Code of Ethics states that journalists should “refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment…” Hopefully, Taryam’s column and this discussion will be a step in the right direction for UAE journalists.