The American ‘Time’ magazine had revealed recently the massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of U.S Marines in Haditha, November 2005. This crime, which follows many others, occurs daily in Iraq. However, what is significant about this particular offense is the identity of the perpetrators on one hand and those who revealed the crime to the public on the other.
The magazine was thorough in the eyewitness statements that it published as well as in its follow up of the case with human rights organizations. It was careful in its details of an explosion that targeted an American military patrol that left one American soldier dead and was followed by the exchange of gunshots that caused the deaths of a number of Iraqi citizens. A videotape showed the crime scene where bloodstains and the corpses of 15 Iraqis including women and children lay. The case is currently under investigation in American courts. Responsible for the disclosing of the case was an American magazine similar to the party responsible for revealing the violations that took place in Abu Ghraib that were also American.
Despite the regular objective criticism of the American media and its role in the encouragement of American administration, as well as hiding the truth of the Iraqi and Arab status quo, the American media has uncovered many of the country’s violations.
What is notable from the disclosure of the Haditha massacre is that the video was taped by a student of journalism. As soon as I read the news, the immediate question that came to mind was, “Why wasn’t the tape broadcasted by an Arab channel or published in an Arab newspaper?”
During the war in Afghanistan, the American magazine ‘Newsweek’ disclosed that a number of pro-American Afghan militias had committed numerous crimes by order of Afghan forces allied with the United States. These forces had transported a number of Taliban and ‘Al-Qaeda’ captives through tunnels in which many had suffocated and died. The British press has also exposed violations of British soldiers in Iraq.
The examples above reflect the importance of reporting in the United States and in other Western countries. The lack of this practice in Arab media is a complete deficit. Media work entails absolute meticulousness in following up eyewitness and victim accounts, sources of information, the comparing between statements and the analyzing of pictures. These in addition to many other details are missing from the process of the Arab media and do not receive the concern and attention that it deserves.
When Time magazine revealed the crime of the Marines, it realized that publishing this news could increase the number of revenge operations on American soldiers, but this did not stop the publishing of the report. I believe that the problem with Arab journalism besides lacking professionalism is that we are captives of the ruling regimes and public opinion that is never relentless with the violations are committed by parties and movements that are meant to be key members of our society.