Gulf News (880g) today contains more commentary on the new draft media law of the UAE. In response to a petition from over 100 UAE academics, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and members of non-governmental organisations, the national media council's director general, Ebrahim Al Abed has asserted that the law is a good thing.
Interestingly, the piece (which is significantly cut in the online edition, for some reason. You'll just have to shell out Dhs3 for the full skinny) adds some new fact. The National Media Council will be charged with ascertaining whether a breach of the law has taken place and forwarding the case to the courts which, if I understand his words correctly, effectively makes the NMC The Media Police.
Do you think they'll get smart new uniforms with shiny peaked caps and mirror shades?
"The National Media Council will have the responsibiliy of determining whether a possible breach of the law has occured - but it will then be for the courts to determine whether the law has actually been broken and to decide upon the penalty, if any" Al Abed told GN.
Meanwhile, another worrying development comes from the UAE Journalists' Association, which is holding a two-day conference at Dubai's Al Bustan Rotana today and tomorrow according to GN. The conference will discuss many weighty matters related to journalism and ethics, including the role of online media. In fact, talking to Gulf News, the Association's head said that:
"...trends and challenges to the media will also be discussed, such as the role of citizen journalism and bloggers. He said it was difficult to accept bloggers as journalists because they did not fall under a framework of accountability and ethics that govern responsible reporting."
Which is all very well, if 'citizen journalists' (hate that phrase) and bloggers are involved in the discussion. I certainly didn't get an invite... anyone else out there get one?
And do you WANT to be seen as journalists? Either professionally or in the eyes of the law? I know that I, for one, sure as hell don't...