Wednesday, 11 March 2009

UAE Government Appoints Spokespeople

Electronic red megaphone on stand.Image via Wikipedia

According to a front page story in The National today, the Federal government has moved to introduce a system whereby Federal government Ministries can have official spokespeople empowered to talk on the record to media on behalf of each Ministry and its officials.

The move received what appeared to be a cautious welcome from the UAE Journalists' Association. The new spokespeople would be "The only sources of information according to their roles and responsibilities", The National quotes Najla Al Awar, Secretary General of the Cabinet. However, she goes on to tell the paper, "Information collected through others at the governmental bodies shall not be considered as valid and authorised information."

So while the move would facilitate journalists' access to a responsible spokesperson, it would also appear to limit media to reporting only facts confirmed or released by that responsible spokesperson.

You tell me which is better...
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The Wizard of D said...

This is a move in the positive direction. I don't this makes information collected from 'reliable sources' illegal. The statement only says that the info collected from any other source within the govt cannot be construed as the official opinion of the govt.

What quality and transparency this official spokespeople provide is yet to be seen though!! I am not taking a guess.

Dave said...

Are they also going to introduce offical clarification spokespeople as well? You know.... the one's that then go and "clarify" what was really meant by the first spokeperson??

rosh said...

OK, perhaps this move could minimize clarifications and misinterpretations. Best to have a dedicated individual issue to statements to Media. Often I think the intent from Arabic to English gets lost in translation, I could be wrong.

Graeme Baker said...

oh we're solidifying the culture of official announcements about official announcements.

The problem with this, which no one seems to understand, is that The National is scared shitless of irking the sheikhs.

They won't dare to run anything now unless it's been run past one of these goons, who will more often than not NOT say anything, which means you either get the party line or you get nothing at all.

fleagie said...

The idea and practice of official spokespeople for government ministries doesn't seem to be too unusual.

Interesting bit for me is what effect it will have on journalist behaviour. Will they bother getting quotes from other sources and run the risk of being shot down for publishing "incorrect" or unofficial policy... even if not illegal, could still be alot of bother for them.

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