Step off my editorial integrity
When CNN launched its new hub in Abu Dhabi, journalists questioned whether the network would bow to the UAE’s censorship laws.
November 8, 2009 3:19 by Dana El Baltaji
There’s a deal you make when you become a journalist in the UAE: in exchange for a reasonable salary and a good position, you keep your nose out of meaty stories. If you don’t like it, you can leave.
Most people don’t like it. Which is why, during the Spring and Summer of 2005 when Arab Media Group was hiring journalists for its ‘revolutionary’ newspaper Emirates Today, battalions of journalists applied. I’d know; I was one of them.
The newspaper, which closed in December 2007, was supposed to challenge the government with hard hitting stories and investigations. It didn’t, and subsequently it lost tens of capable journalists to publishing houses that don’t pretend to push the boundaries. The paper shifted its name to Emirates Business 24/7, and has since been the butt of Kipp’s jokes for its positive approach on everything. Every. Thing.
Journalists who believed Emirates Today would crack the country’s censorship code were genuinely disappointed. Many expected to enjoy the level of journalistic freedom they’d experienced in the United Kingdom and the United States.
But anyone who knows anything about the region would guess that so long as you work with a local outfit, you’ll never have the kind of freedom in the UAE as you would in the West. It simply isn’t in the fabric of the region to accept the sort of criticism seen in foreign newspapers.