Matt J. Duffy :: Thoughts on Journalism, Culture, and Global Communication

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Dr. Matt J. Duffy teaches journalism, media ethics and international communication law. His research focuses on journalism and media laws in the Middle East. Duffy's book "Media Laws of the United Arab Emirates" was published in 2014 by Wolters Kluwer. His academic work has been published in the Journal of Middle East Media, the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, and the Newspaper Research Journal. He received a Ph.D. in Public Communication from Georgia State University in the United States where he studied the use of unnamed sources in journalism. Duffy is board member of the Arab-United States Association for Communication Educators, an organization that aims to improve journalism in the Middle East. He currently serves as a visiting assistant professor at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

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Journalism, media laws and press freedom in the UAE

posted on June 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

The following links and explanations should help provide an understanding of the state of journalism, media laws and press freedoms in the UAE:

  • My Gulf News article “Revised media law for the UAE” outlines a suggestion for a new media law in the UAE. Essentially, I propose starting with the Abu Dhabi Media Zone’s content guidelines which starts with an understanding of the unique cultural situation in the Emirates.
  • I’ve written three articles for Dubai’s Gulf News about impediments to a free press in the United Arab Emirates: Challenges facing press freedom, Civil courts should handle defamation, and UAE journalists need more legal protections.
  • At Mideast Posts, you can read my observations about the local press and its coverage of sensitive topics: UAE newspapers and the self-censorship debate (concerning self-censorship at The National), Peninsula journalism attack resonates regionallyNewspapers inconsistent over blogger arrests, and UAE media breaks silence on Emirat’s arrest.
  • My blog post about the CNN interview with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid that explores his thoughts on freedom of expression in the UAE.
  • I’ve also written many posts about the news coverage and other issues in the UAE. See them all here.
  • Sam Potter’s “A paralysis of analysis.” Features quotes from Ibrahim Al Abed, director general of the National Media Council, the media regulatory agency in the UAE, defending the highly criticized draft press law. Here’s my post about an interview with Abed in the Gulf News.
  • Dana El-Baltaji’s “Emirites Press Law.” Summarizes the draft press law and the concerns of its critics. The country’s ruler never signed the law, so it’s effectively dead. The country still operates under the 1980 Press and Publications Law. The government news agency WAM recently reported that H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s decree that journalists shouldn’t go to jail for doing their job should be considered law.
  • Abdulla Rasheed’s “The ceiling of press freedom is falling.” The Abu Dhabi editor of Gulf News complains about government interference. (Abed cited this column as an indication that a free press exists in the UAE.)
  • The Open Net Initative’s report on Internet filtering in the UAE. Study from 2009 finds “substantial” political filtering and “pervasive” social censorship.
  • Andrew Mill’s “A Vision in the Desert.” Details The National newspaper’s efforts to bring Western-style journalism to the UAE. The founding editor, Martin Newland, left his position as editor of the London Telegraph to take the job but left after about a year. His replacement, Hassan Fattah, was a Mideast reporter for the New York Times before joining The National as a deputy editor. Many observers agree that the paper has become more timid since Newland’s departure for a position with Abu Dhabi Media, the paper’s government-backed owner. Still, I’ve commented frequently on the good journalism at The National and most observers also note the media here have greatly improved over the past five years.
  • My interview with the Doha Center for Media Freedom about the coverage of the “UAE5″ trial in the UAE in 2011.

Please send any me any additional links or ask me any questions. Send email to mattjduffy – at – gmail.com. (I occasionally update and re-publish this post.)

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3 comments

  • hng on 28 September 2010

    Regarding the last bullet point, I’m more interested in YOUR own view.

  • sam on 18 January 2012

    As you note the media plays a massive role in sahping the perceptions of the public in any gvien society. When I read the National, the perception I get is clear. The UAE is full of criminals that undertake all sorts of terrible acts. “Western” style journalism is based around trying to make profit, not an honest reflection reality. It is sensationalist, intrusive and in setting an agenda “offering a more western style journalism” forfeits any possibility of providing a balanced approach based on fact. Facts don’t sell, emotional rubbish does. I agree the National is bringing the Western approach to media to the UAE- and looking at the brilliant job they do in the West- I have to say that is rather dissapointing. Western journalists prey on the weak minded, the sick and the vulnerable all in the name of making money. I can hear the argument about Arabic media but surely there is something that is far more moral and newsworthy than articles eeking a Western approach to news.

  • Anonymous on 1 May 2012

    Just to be clear, what exactly is your definition of democracy? Serving the western interests in the region, because if you don’t, then you’re against democracy and a bad journalist! So what exactly are you doing in the UAE? isn’t it better for everyone if you’d go back to your own coutry?

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