The focusing on news and events of one country at the expense of others is unjustifiable both professionally and morally. Although we are not the only ones that practice this type of discrimination, we have yet to do anything to reverse it.
Usually nations that are more powerful from a political, military, and economic perspective, get the most media coverage, even when it comes to trivial matters like entertainment, with the coverage usually bordering on the shallow and exaggerated. On the other hand, poorer and weaker nations are the prisoners of their grim circumstances, marginalized and out of the world’s collective conscience, except on rare occasions.
Yemen is a great example of this. As close as we are to Yemen geographically, our knowledge of it does not exceed that of their daily headlines, and they are usually about the rising fundamentalist movements, or the latest Al-Qaeda crimes, or the country’s Qat obsession, and that is hardly enough information for us to say that we know what goes on there.
A recent report by “the Committee to Protect Journalists” revealed that no less then 24 Yemeni journalists have been tortured, imprisoned or criminally prosecuted in the last two years. In addition, many newspapers were closed down or have had their licenses revoked. In the report, a number of journalists went on record to detail the arrests, torture, and intimidation the faced because they dared to write about sensitive issues.
These are just the quick facts, the details are more horrific. In addition to the above-mentioned methods of punishment, the Yemeni authorities have managed to create some new ones. On two separate occasions, Private intimate phone conversation between journalists and their wives were recorded and circulated in a society notorious for its moral conservatism.
Today in Yemen the noose is tightening around the press’s neck, which is the only tool available that can reflect the voices of opposition and political dialogue.
The essence of the problem is that the Arab media are not giving Yemen half the coverage it gives other countries in the region, for in less than a year, a number of journalists have been brutalized, kidnapped and imprisoned and none of them received the same attention their counterparts did in other Arab countries.