In certain cases, an individual’s history is the same as that of a group, a phase and a place. The history of a prominent media figure like Turki al-Sudairi is our history as journalism and journalists as well as the history of a long period of journalism.
With Sudairi’s death, we mourn the dean of journalists in Saudi Arabia. He held this post for almost three decades upon the desire of media figures when there were no associations or unions to defend their rights.
He played this precise role even before he was officially tasked to it, and he would not have accepted this role if it hadn’t been for everyone’s trust in him.
Turki al-Sudairi was the syndicate of journalists and its chief.
Unlike common assumptions, Sudairi did not land on the profession out of nowhere. He attained his status like most professional journalists. He moved up the ladder from a junior editor until he reached the top through his hard work and professionalism.
It is only natural that our opinion in Sudairi is not impartial because the love we have for him as a dear colleague and brother. He was an influential character, and managed over a long period of time to leave his mark in journalism.
His concerns for the profession’s traditions solidified it and laid out principles in the society of media, the government’s relations with media outlets, and relations between the media outlets. He volunteered several times to resolve the issues of media institutions and journalists and to defend them.
Most of these issues were kept a secret and later forgotten.
At early stages, when print media was dominant, there were continuous arguments between different parties, like the ministry of information and journalists. Most of these disputes were related to spaces, freedoms, unreasonable expectations, and sometimes personalized issues.
Turki assumed the role of the lawyer and argued with ministers and officials.
He was neither fierce nor gentle. He was a determined man defending every case and did all he can to end all disputes.
Sudairi became a role model to all of us. He was a courteous and convincing man who was concerned about the profession and his colleagues regardless of which institution they worked for, whether they were his competitors or those who opposed his opinions and stances.
It is not strange that we love our teacher, Sudairi, as we are from the same school and proudly share the same humanitarian convictions and principles.
Turki voiced his opinions, such as the importance of women’s role within the very conservative Saudi society. He practiced what he preached. He defied the status quo and gave women a chance to write thus enabling female journalists.
Al-Riyadh newspaper was Turki al-Sudairi, with his modernizing intellect. He was a man with firm stances who neglected the criticism of the left and the right.
With his death, we lost a noble man, a great teacher and a dear brother. May his soul rest in peace and may God grant his family patience and solace.