Tuesday, 3 February 2009


The Minister of Labour and chairman of the National Media Council, Saqr Ghobash, has written a piece in today's The National which seeks to clarify the aim and intent of the new media law.

In a piece titled 'Do not fear for press freedom', he says: "A rumour about collapsing property prices is insufficient information on which to base a story. A story based on a well-researched study by a leading bank or estate agent, however, is another matter entirely."

It's a sobering thought that this statement on how a journalist can 'stand up' a story could well be cited in a court of law in future as being definitive of the law's intent.

He notes that "Sadly, much of the comment (on the law) appears to have been misinformed or to be based upon a misunderstanding both of the current situation and of the contents of the proposed legislation." - Seabee deals quite neatly with our alarming propensity to wilfully misunderstand clear communication here.

The government is, apparently, to issue an appendix to the law over the next seven weeks that will clarify "vague provisions" according to the story in the print and digital, but not online, editions. The online (read 'most up to date') version of the story instead prefers to run instead with the comment from the UAE Journalists' Association, which is still not happy, it seems: “We asked for 40 things, not one or two.”

Worryingly, there's still no news on how the diverse and fast-moving world of online media will be treated under the new law - if, indeed, it is to be covered by the 'new' media law at all. And nobody appears to be asking the question of 'the concerned authorities', either.


Seabee said...

And nobody appears to be asking the question of 'the concerned authorities', either.

One of my regular complaints about our 'journalists, Alex. They simply don't ask questions, don't ask for clarification, they just write down what they're told, touch their forelock and leave quietly.

I do, though, have some sympathy for Mr Ghobash's comment about rumours versus well researched information. And particularly about the lack of context - I'm about to start ranting on that subject again.

Graeme Baker said...

how on earth can you fear for something that patently isn't there in the first place?

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