Does Saudi Journalism have to change after the Khashoggi battle?


By Mashari Althaydi

They said: Where is the voice of Saudi journalists? Where are we (Saudi media) from dailies like the Washington Post and the New York Times and channels like CNN, CNBC and BBC..etc.?

Has the Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood media won against Saudi media and against the media that loves Saudi Arabia in the Khashoggi battle?

It’s a direct question and answering it is not as easy as it seems to those who shallowly look at matters without finding the joy (and I am not saying the ‘chore’) of diving deeper into matters.

Yes, it became clear in the Jamal Khashoggi fuss during the past few days that the Qatari-Brotherhood (I insist on this mixture between Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood as there’s no meaning to one without the other) fuss was the loudest.

The are Al Jazeera platforms and its employees, the Brotherhood “mujahideen” in the world and the sensitive and caring people who are concerned about human rights and freedom of expression but are among the supporters of the Khomeinist Iran! There is also the left journalists in the West, in the US and other countries.

Saudi media

All these harnessed their efforts to promote their own narrative about Jamal Khashoggi. They pulled out their swords, wielded their spears and directed their arrows, and they thought and estimated, hence, their black dust obscured the eyes.

This is all true but there are people, whether Saudis and others, who directed their anger at the Saudi media, especially on prominent outlets, both audiovisual and print media.

They said: Where is the voice of Saudi journalists? Where are we (Saudi media) from dailies like the Washington Post and the New York Times and channels like CNN, CNBC and BBC..etc.?

Others said that we did not succeed in prorogating our story and the supporters of the Brotherhood, Iran and the left succeeded in solidifying their story, and this is due to lack of freedom of expression or the dominance of emotional enthusiasm over “professionalism” on some of us.

I – although I have “real” notes on the general media scene, but this is not the space to explain them – completely disagree with the previous diagnosis.

Al Jazeera and those who adopted an approach similar to it, whether in Arabic or other languages, did not impose their narrative because they are more “professional.” This is wrong as Al Jazeera is so far from professionalism, as much as street singer Sha’bola is far from reading Beethoven’s notes. Al-Jazeera and its sisters were the loudest because they addressed an audience that expects such coverage from them. It was swimming in its regular pool, and if it had said otherwise, this audience would not have listened to it.

Those who liked the coverage of the Qatari-Brotherhood media are those who personally or whose fathers were biased against Saudi Arabia in the Kuwait war in 1990 before Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya existed. There’s nothing great about Al Jazeera and its sisters!
Does this mean that our media is fine and does not need a new vision, a different approach and qualitative tools?

The answer is of course not, as it actually needs that. The purpose of the previous remarks is to disagree with the false diagnosis. Perhaps this is to be continued.

Article first published on Al-Arabiya English

Mashari Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect The Milli Chronicle’s point-of-view.

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