The events in Jenin brought to the surface the fact that the Arabic media is a media of opinion and not a media of news and analysis. It depends on international news agencies in the information it presents. In most cases there is nothing valuable in the Arabic press to read. Arab journalists write reports from behind their desks, while professional journalists should be on the scene of the event they cover.
A friend of mine told me that Jenin exposed the inability of the Arabic media in the same way Sharon exposed the inability of the different political powers. I commented and said that there was no use of speaking about the Arabic media, as media officials do not accept criticism. Still, I believe that it is my duty to hold a mirror for the Arabic media to show it its defects. But I believe that even if the Arabic media looked at itself in the mirror, it will see nothing but a beautiful image, as "the monkey is a deer in its mother’s eyes [This is an Egyptian proverb, which means that love is blind. When one loves something, one will see it without any imperfections].
How did Jenin expose the inability of the Arabic media, both printed and visual?
The Arabic media is a media of opinion and not a media of news and analysis. In addition, it lives on begging, as it depends greatly on international news agencies in the news it presents. A great part of the Arabic press can be called a press of political advertisements and of [emotional] blackmail, blackmailing both peoples and governments. This professional inefficiency affects the credibility of the Arabic press.
What the Arabic press represents can be summarized in the words of the song of Shaban Abdel- Reheem "I love Amr Mousa and hate Israel." [Note: Abdel-Reheem is an Egyptian singer popular among lower classes. This comment means that the Arabic press is a press that plays on peoples’ emotions, exactly like Abdel-Raheem’s song that has no artistic value but just plays on people’s emotions].
Most of the articles written about Sharon, for example, start with an introduction in which Sharon is insulted. After this introduction, Arabs [what is meant here is Arab journalists as representatives of their Arab countries] give each other a slanging
[The Arabic expression is farsh al-millaya - An Egyptian expression of lower social classes. Talk of low class women, speaking negatively about the other, involving all possible arguments for the sake of making arguments only and expressions of all feelings, without doing anything.]
Readers move from the introduction to the slanging part hoping that they would find something valuable to read. But unfortunately, articles end without readers having something of real value to read. All what they find is simply empty boasts and threats that Arab journalists make to justify their existence behind their disks. But I think that all of us know that the place where a professional journalist should be is the scene of the event [he is covering].
Jenin and the scandal of the Arabic press:
Jenin, with all the destruction that took place, is still there. From behind desks in air-conditioned offices, Arabs just issued statements about a massacre including numbers of killed and wounded people. They were not there at the scene of the events. So if anyone accused them of issuing untrue statements, they would not be able to defend themselves.
The Arabic press always has ready answers for any accusation; Arab journalists were not there in the heart of Jenin to cover the events there because Israel drove away Abu Dhabi’s or Al-Ahram’s correspondents and also Israel does not give Arab journalists entry visas.
We cannot accept such arguments. They seemed not to be a barrier for the American journalist David Rood [the name is transliterated from the Arabic, the spelling may be wrong], who disclosed the crime of mass graves in Bosnia and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Rood was able to sneak from Croatia to Sebrenica and to have satellite photos of these mass graves. He did this not because he loves Muslims but because he respects his journalistic profession.
Arabs cannot accuse the Western media, especially the CNN of being biased. Arabs cannot accuse the Western media of being negligent. Here is Sheila Macfebear [the name is a transliteration from the Arabic] introducing distinguished reports about Jenin. In these reports she accuses Israelis of committing war crimes. She was able to introduce such reports as she approached eye- witnesses in Israel itself.
Jenin is still there for the Arab journalists to leave their air-conditioned offices and practice real journalism.