Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

What About Arab Media Bias? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- There are various reasons that underlie hatred for several aspects of the American foreign policy by many in the Arab world and the whole world. However, does that justify “disregard” of journalistic basics when it comes to the United States and allowing news and views to be mixed?

That is the case with many Arab newspapers and channels and there are innumerable examples. A quick search on the Internet will yield a “full basket”

Lebanese media expert Amjad Iskandar speaks about these negatives saying: “The problem stems from the fact that many in the Arab media include more public sentiment than facts. A journalist is supposed to avoid postulates, correct what is circulated and reveal what is hidden in seemingly established givens. But many in Arab popular media catch up with the tide and ascribe everything to the Americans and therefore American affairs are not judged correctly and Americans are being fought subjectively. A journalist who adheres to credibility and professionalism in dealing with American affairs is accused of collaboration and treason by others.”

Iskandar argues that many deem it easy to indulge in portraying an American as a devil and go to extremes in analyzing the shortcomings of the American policy but fail to use the positives that serve our causes. Here one has to say that focusing on the disadvantages without attaching similar importance to the advantages is a characteristic of many journalists everywhere not only the Arabs.

For his part, Charbel Maroun, Voice of Lebanon Radio’s news editor-in-chief, says: “Some of the Arab media repeat clichés and consider that all that is American is bad and against the Arab. We do not deny that the American policy is considerably biased against the Arabs, but this should not be confronted with clichés. This bias originates from the Arabs’ weakness rather than the Americans’ strength,” adding that this media bias is “manifested in the constantly exaggerated figure of American victims in Iraq, which is just the case with Israeli casualties in any operation. There is always difficulty in having the accurate figure. Unfortunately, the enemy gives us more accurate figures.”

He cites the “lack of accountability for information that is published by the media, as the case is with European media for example”. Explaining that: “Here information includes personal emotions because we offer emotions as media content without professionalism.”

Maroun underscores the Arab opinion that dominates facts regardless of the source or the source’s credibility. This does not include all media outlets as some strive to strike a balance. One should emphasize that is it is always argues that a completely unbiased media does not exist in the Arab world or even the whole outside world. Influence comes from an editor’s convictions and political and economic matters. But some differences remain in dealing with a piece of news and its objectivity, not only when it comes to American affairs but also internal Arab affairs.

However, he does not blame governments that guide their respective media to highlight hostility towards the Americans. “If our societies do not have nor are given the ability to hold their authorities accountable, this situation reflects on the media. When a given society is underdeveloped in all aspects, there is no way for accountability. Unfortunately, some authorities raise the slogan of the Americans, whether duly or not, as if there is a desire to blame others for our societies’ problems. Therefore, we become prisoners of a given idea that nobody seeks to rectify.”