“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” – Henry Anatole Grunwald.
Hussain Ahmed, a writer for guardian.co.uk reveals an interesting scenario through an article discussing about the Indian journalists losing their desire to continue working in the Gulf and going back to their homeland to work there. A lot of journalists and even laymen believe that the media which exists in the Gulf is highly controlled and regulated by the Government and organizations here, whereas in India, one gets the right to freedom of expression and do not have a lot of restrictions to face. Media professionals in India have a very low esteem about Journalism in the Gulf. And because of this, work experience in the Gulf sadly does not hold much value including it in CV’s. If you go to see, there has not been much of professional growth which has taken place as in the Gulf, the organizations are more PR dominated, i.e., the Publications about any organizations are regulated through public relations agents working for the company.
Journalists residing in the Gulf do not get the amount of experience they should be getting. A lot of censorship takes place in news out here, and nobody talks about any sensitive issues which take place here. Talking about a current example, in Khaleej Times, Saturday, 18 September 2010 issue, the Government warmly welcomes Sheikh Khalifa who has returned back to Dubai and recovered from his illness. Nowhere has the media mentioned from where he has returned, what illness he went through, how critical was he, was he admitted in the hospital and so on. Their only focus has been on everyone being happy with welcoming him back. I completely agree with the fact that the media is regulated in the Gulf, and I agree with Mr. Hussain Ahmed’s article in this regard.
But looking at it from another perspective, should we stand by the fact that media shouldn’t be regulated at all? Isn’t it important for at least some kind of regulation which must take place in the world of media? Especially with the UAE being an Islamic country, there are certain norms which journalists being a citizen of the country should respect and follow. Families, women and children are vulnerable sectors of our society. Sometimes, if issues need to be censored keeping their benefit in regard, I do not think there is anything wrong in it. Being Indians, we talk about respecting values. Then why does one hesitate to respect the values of the country they are citizens of.
Indians usually do not care about learning the Arabic language. Organisations in the Gulf need journalists who can communicate both in Arabic as well as in English today. English dailies in the Middle East, such as Gulf News and in Arabic they have Asharq Alawsat and many more. India is extremely diverse and has a common medium of English used generally when there are masses who seek the need to read in Hindi or in Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, and so on. Hence they have English dailies such as Times of India and Hindi dailies too such as Dainik Bhaskar and many others. So where does the problem lie now, in their attitude towards not wanting to learn a new language, or them being not motivated or being given a reason to learn a new language, assuring them its benefits.
Competition in India due to this is much higher than it is in the Gulf, and because of that, there is a lot of corruption which arises along with it. In the Gulf though, there may not be much competition but there are a lot of chances and opportunities for you to get recognised with your life being put in less danger. As for Indians who are Gulf citizens not being seen in the newsrooms any longer, the management should produce certain incentives for young journalists, such as pay them a better salary, and give them more opportunities and the exposure they desire. There are some who want to learn a lot more and are enthusiastic about the profession. They should be trained with the required skills and opportunities to gain experience from, to enhance their creativity. Only then will budding Indian journalists, who have been ruling the newsrooms till now, will continue to do so.
The Gulf is very rich in its culture and has a lot of stories within itself. But a lot of the publications exist purely as a vehicle to carry property advertisements in them. Therefore there are fewer job opportunities for journalists and wages are staying low. This issue has to be solved as soon as possible as being young journalists, they also want to experience some sort of challenges, and not let everything just be an easy game for them. Being born and brought up in the Gulf, I aim for the welfare of the country which has helped me grow to what I am today. Gulf is more of a homeland to me and India being a holiday destination for me even though I am an Indian. This country has given me a lot and I would want to do my best to improve the journalism scenario out here.
This is why I do not completely agree with the article written by Mr. Hussain, even though the issues he has brought out are very true. He is an Indian who is now residing in UK writing for their local newspaper. Whatever the race and nationality, I expect journalists to be impartial, above concern for personal financial and career self-interests, and communicative. Yes, money is important but if Indian journalists regard career and high salary as much more important than journalism, then they are not journalists.