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Thank You, "Washington Post!" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Everybody who works in the world of journalism must sincerely thank the US “Washington Post” newspaper for it has given us an important and useful lesson in serious journalism, rather than yellow journalism which is built upon conjecture and the glorification of past lies.

Here is the American newspaper that previously ousted former US president Richard Nixon [from office] making revelations to us once more, this time in a press report that took two years of serious journalistic work to produce. This is the giant “Top Secret America” series which reveals to us how in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks the intelligence agencies in America have inflated to the point that the number of people who now hold top-secret security clearances is equivalent to one and a half times the population of the US capital Washington DC.

Of course there are many lessons to be learned from this journalistic report, whether this is with regards to politics, security, surveillance, or organization; however there are also other lessons that can be learned from the media side of things as well. The “Washington Post” confirmed that print journalism remains the serious and sober school of journalism, rather than internet or television journalism. This is because print journalism means balance and accuracy, and serious and sober investigation.

For the “Top Secret America” report is journalistic work that we do not see on the internet or television, for these two mediums remain like sponges, gaining their sustenance from print journalism, openly and proudly re-hashing everything that is published there. In our Arab case, this example is clear to all those who read and monitor and watch [the media]; for they see how the efforts of print journalism are being stolen in plain view, and we are then told that print journalism is dead!

The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” report was built upon reviewing thousands of official government documents, which includes files and records, from contracts and job descriptions to descriptions and information about real estate locations. This is not to mention hundreds of interviews and meetings with senior officers and officials, as well as [meetings with] retired officers, and visiting and investigating companies and locations. In addition to this, a complete team was working solely to establish a special website for this report which includes maps and graphics, and also an archive of all documents and files. This led to the Washington Post’s famed rival the “New York Times” newspaper publishing that the Washington Post’s report “aims high”

The other lesson from the Washington Post’s report “Top Secret America” is that the newspaper published a message along with this report in which it told its readers that it had taken national security into account and allowed government officials to see its information, and removed and edited certain data that could jeopardize national security. However the “Washington Post” also said that it did not respond to the security agencies that failed, in turn, to respond to the newspaper. Therefore it is necessary for journalists to thank the “Washington Post” because it has given us a new and important lesson in journalistic work, and confirmed that sober journalistic work is the feature of print journalism, and that other forms of media are nothing more than sponges.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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