Friday, 10 October 2008

Media vs Media

Poor old Gulf News is unhappy with the latest Fleet Street coverage of Dubai - article here:
Two articles published three days apart from each other in leading British newspapers lashed out at how expatriates live and work in the UAE. The list of criticism included: the state of thousands of labourers, the thriving business of prostitution, the status of the 'rich' and 'pampered' Emiratis who are the only group enjoying the oil wealth, 'racism' of all forms and shapes, lack of accountability and transparency, the demographic imbalance, and of course, the case of sex on the public beach.

[...]

Hence, when such articles of criticism appear, they come across as a reminiscent of an ignorant bygone colonial era. Unfortunately, and much so disappointedly, some seem to be still entrapped in the old mentality of discriminatory bias between East and West.

So know now that objecting to slavery, oppression, discrimination and racism makes you a ignorant biased Colonialist.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn colonialists. Oh, hang on...Gaith, the guy who wrote that piece in the Guardian - one of the bravest photojournalists in the business - is actually Iraqi...

Megan Knight said...

The Guardian story is here. What's the other one, does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

It may be this one:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/05/middleeast.gender

Guardian site, but it's an Observer story, not by Gaith...

Anonymous said...

The Gulf News talking about oppression is a bit rich, given their archaic HR policies. Not to mention the embarrassingly poor standard of the copy.

Anonymous said...

Fleet street should start asking why then 120,000 Brits live here, because the rest of us certainly want to know.

Anonymous said...

The LA Times has nice things to say about The National

Anonymous said...

Nice article, unfortunately I have to say - what the fuck are the 240 journalists and stringers doing? This is a competent newspaper, but with that many staff you would hope for much more than that.

Too often the National is turgid - which the widespread availability of The Times only makes more obvious.

Time to step up a gear National - you're only six months old, but already you look fat and bloated.

Desert Orchid said...

I tell ya, the tabloid pressure cooker is gaining pressure....here's today's from Jock rag:

http://www.sundayherald.com/oped/opinion/display.var.2459727.0.0.php

Anonymous said...

An opinion piece about Dubai from someone who hasn't even been here is pushing it a bit.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone go to the villages in India and Pakistan or wherever and ask some hard questions about what those governments are doing to prevent poverty, or the world for that matter. How many poor Indians did the world feed today? Poverty will not be cured in and by Dubai. But it's a lot nicer to write about it here, where you go back to your air-conditioned room at the end of the day, than going to where you might have to stay in a hut.

Anonymous said...

Why do 120,000 ex-pats live there?

Anonymous said...

Hang on - of course journalists ask questions about poverty in India/ Pakistan. The international media has exposed sweatshop stories and other tales of exploitation around the world.

It's also not an argument to state that because poverty/exploitation happens in another place it's ok for us to do it.

I do think that a lot of people in Dubai just don't understand what the role of a functioning press actually is because you don't have one. The media's role in Dubai is not to reign in power but to be nothing more than a giant PR vehicle - covering up exploitation and paying off the staff.

I've also seen comments here stating that the Guardian/Observer's articles on Dubai aren't cutting edge and should therefore be dismissed. I guess after Nelson Mandela had been in prison for 20 years it was an old story. But it was only the retelling of it that got him freed after another 7 years.

What cutting edge stories are Dubai journalists telling? What are they doing to reign in the rich and the powerful?

Examples, if any, please.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely doubt 05:47 has been a journalist anywhere.

You cannot initiate, on your own, a crusade against the rich and powerful in the West any more than you can in the UAE. Having worked on broadsheets in the UK, I know this from experience.

Moreover no one was arguing the exploitation was irrelevant, but that to hold them up as great pieces of journalism made you look silly.

They are nicely written, but fundamentally cliched stories written countless times before.

If you had shown us articles where brave international journalists had undertaken a forensic investigation into Sheikh Mohammed's finances, details of assets that he owned, what they were worth post liquidity squeeze, the level of borrowing requirements he has, and an analysis of the chances of a Dubai Inc. default, I would be impressed.

I would also have admitted a personal angle on this story would not/could not be written here.

But this is not what you have shown us.

The Observer and Guardian pieces are not good examples of good journalism because they do not offer anything new, reveal anything new or change anything.

They are carbon copies of countless articles written before.

Anonymous said...

anon 5.47: I'm looking for the connection in the Dubai-pieces, following the trail and describing the circumstances the workers are leaving, and what, if anything, they gain from being here. The problem with calling it slavery is that it removes responsibility from home governments and puts it on UAE. Shaming works, and things have improved in the UAE thanks to articles like these and reports such as "cheating labors", but more pressure must be put on the home countries for anything to last. Bangladesh banned women from working in the Gulf, two years later they changed their minds, knowing fully well what happens to domestics, but needing the remittances.

And don't kid yourself; we're living a good life here, thanks to world poverty. Maids, gardeners, drivers and people stuffing your grocery bags when you go shopping or filling gas so you don't have to step out of your car. All those are perks of inequality that most of us avail of. I even call it charitable: some of them wouldn't have a job without me, others would be poorer.

As for cutting edge: I like living here.

Fucked up, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The rich and powerful in the west have been exposed countless times by western journalists. Both by maverick individuals and collective action taken by papers.

What were you doing at the tabloids? Making coffee?

Where are the articles investigating Sheik Mohammed's finances? No journalism of any note has come out Dubai - period.

And so what if it's an old story? The appalling conditions still exist - this story should be told again and again (and that's right - journalists like me will make sure it is) until conditions change. Should journalists have stopped reporting on aparthied? On the Iraq War? Or any other injustice?

Claiming it's an old story is completely immaterial to the veracity of these journalists' work.

And of course the UAE government have complete responsibility for the conditions they have established. Attempting to blame the labourers' host nations' governments for conditions in UAE is absurd. If you have a beef with poverty in Bangladesh or wherever write about that - get your own agenda.

Also as I am not the editor of either The Observer or Guardian nor the writer or either piece I have no idea what I have 'shown' you.

Anonymous said...

By royal decree, is suddenly illegal to post anything less than that resembling a fucking final year dissertaion on here!!!??? Short and simple, peeps. Aight! Now why is ITP so shit?

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece in Portfolio magazine (http://tiny.cc/pahB6) - part of the problem is lack of budgets, it takes time and money to create brilliant journalism. Seymour Hersh at the New Republic gets months at a time to write one story - the journos at the nationals here are told to come up with 1-2 stories a day - no wonder they rely on press releases and cliches.

On another note, is it just me or has Gulf News gone from being crap to truly awful. Every article I read online is a mess of bad English and false logic. Who are the editors over there???

Anonymous said...

GN has been plumbing new depths recently; Anyone read the piece about people leaving their kids locked in cars?! It’s as though the journo thought that was a perfectly normal thing to do. As for the almost full page editorials on that stupid shark or their other “community” issues… The editing has got really bad recently, and the grammar is slipping from forgivably bad to just nonsensical.

Anonymous said...

i think GN's 'star' sub editor left a few months ago. might explain some of the dodgy grammaticals...?

Anonymous said...

Priceless.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/discussions/posts/list/DUBAI_SEX_ROMP_COUPLE_ONLY_JAILED_FOR_3_MONTHS~63~_WHY_THE_SOFT_SENTENCE~63~-110223.page

Anonymous said...

Award for the best comment on the Sun site goes too....

"The sentence was fairly soft because they weren't having ANAL sex. They probably would've been put to death for that."

Anonymous said...

And this narrowly comes second...

It is a serious offence to have sex on the beach or in a public place in Dubai. If you go to a foreign country you must learn the rules before doing something out of the ordinary. The dubai authorities are very strict on sexual matters. You should always show respect when in a foreign country. Any idiots who have sex in a public place in any country, deserve to be flogged and thrown in to the clink.

I have no sympathy for them, they taint the image of our peaceful well mannered majority in The United Kingdom.

Strip the idiots naked and flog them in public since they like to expose themselves, and chuck em in the lions den.

Jack Morris, respectful world traveller.

Anonymous said...

Or how about they should've been run over by someone in a Hummer and then reversed over?

Funny how the Dubai cops show up to put a couple of stupid drunk foreigners in jail but don't dare show up when some wealthy local clearly murders someone in cold-blood in front of several witnesses.

Anonymous said...

It seems everyone thinks that "Dubai media" is synonymous with Khaleej Times, Gulf News and ITP. Sorry to shake everyone's prejudices, but there are at least some good stories getting written here, that expose some serious wrong-doing. The Financial Times' work on the scandals around the DIFC's real estate provoked huge changes, and coverage of the child camel riders has caused that practice to end, More recently, Dow Jones has been fantastic at exposing corruption at banks and property developers. Even the National has written lengthily on the subject.

Anonymous said...

That sounds much more like it 12.12.

While the journos you mention might be based in UAE they are employed by outside organisations. Not discredited spivvy two-bit players like ITP.

Can we just get back to discussing how shit ITP are?

Anonymous said...

Certainly Sir (13.19). ITP have recently sunken to new depths with an unprecedented amount of staff walking out the door for the last time... Senior editors, sales directors, and shit-loads of phone-monkeys, aka salespeople, with at least double figures leaving every month - one has to ask, how long before ITP disappears into it's own rectal cavity?

Anonymous said...

Well, judging by the hive of activity going on around me, and the record sales being chalked up on the boards around our ever expanding offices - quite some time!

It seems the market likes the best written products with the best newsstand sales in the market. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

guys and girls. I am waiting for the day when this blog of such dedication with new and newer posts takes off Emirates Evening Post and Emirates Today and puts up the National and Emirates Biz 24/7 in their place. or is the moderator of DMO just an observer and not media and does not know the difference

Anonymous said...

oh yes and DMO - do note that ITP and Motivate are publishers not publications :-)
now start a thread on the PR mafia and watch the comments pleease.

Anonymous said...

only in Dubai do companies not care when they lose over half their staff......

Which means they are always recruiting to replace those who have left.

How bad is it really in our industry?

Anonymous said...

The ITP lackey is making a come-back! Go spiv go!