Sunday, 8 November 2009

Nose-dive/Crash landing/[insert aviation disaster pun here]

This probably has merit as a thread:

As many of you know I was in Dubai for the past year working for the Arabic satellite channel Al Arabiya, where I was in charge of the English website. Unfortunately journalists in Dubai and and the Arab media more generally do not enjoy the same freedom of the press as journalists in the U.S. Earlier this month when I refused to compromise my journalistic principles and compromise my credibility, which I have spent the past decade building, I was laid off.

Yesterday I arrived back in Washington after being forced out over an article about Emirates Airlines. The airline is on of the channel's biggest advertisers, and the head of Emirates is a Maktoum (a member of the royal family) and also happens to be the head of the regulatory aviation administration. The day after publishing the article I lost my job, prompting the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders to write about my case (read the press release I posted the original story on my blogs and and will be writing more about my experiences in Dubai now that I am out of the country and do not have to worry about being arrested or fined.

I thought this was an important issue of press freedom that I wanted to share with you. In the meantime I'm back in in Washington looking for the next step to take in my career. I hope you are all well and appreciate you taking the time to read this.


Courtney C. Radsch
Journalist & Media Consultant


mediamonster said...

Related comment from other thread:
Anonymous said...
Courtney C. Radsch - what the fuck are you moaning about? You were employed by a MIDDLE EAST COMPANY, to write a NEGATIVE article on Emirates.

"As it turns out the head of Emirates Airlines is also the head of the aviation authority and an al-Maktoum, a member of the ruling family"

Errrr, who doesn't know Emirates is government-owned? Next time you're employed by a foreign country, how about doing some research first before you waste everyone's time.

Anonymous said...

i think mediamonster is being very harsh and needs to consider his own journalistic values.

emirates airline may be government owned but it is still an international copmpany with international empyees and international customers and must meet international aviation safety codes.
if it is violating those codes and passengers lives are being put at risk then it is a story and decent self respecing jouirnalsit should want to cover.
the problem is that the maktoums are so petrified of any bad news that can damage "brand dubai" that they resort to these sort of petty cover up which will only make the problem worse and tarnish dubai's image still further.

let's all pray there is never a serous accident that comes down to pilot fatigue.

i actually think courtney's comments are the msot interesting thing that's been posted on this site for quite some time.

no body likes bad press but when you are a government or an unelected ruling family clique running a sandy backwater that has delusions of being the most sophisticated centre of excellence at everything in the universe, then sometimes you just have to step up to the plate and put your hand up and admit things are not perfect.

can you buy shares in emirates airline on the dubai stockmarket ?

Anonymous said...

Mediamonster - maybe this guy was writing to the uniformed, I am sure he knew the airline was owned by the Maktoum's. He was simply pointing out that he was 'let go' for writing an article critical of Emirates. Journalists need freedom to write and report on what they see, discover and overturn - other wise there isn't much point is there?
Typical that you mediamonster have to jump down someones throat instead of just giving a simple opinion.

Anonymous said...

Dear Courtney, take no notice of mediamonster. He /she is typical of the semi literate idiots who work in the UAE; they work there because they cannot get jobs in their own countries and pretend that their little papers and magazines, which only exist in the sense that they have offices and staffs, are real.(They are not; they are given away, if they are printed at all. The prime example of this is the National, the biggest con in the history of journalism and one that will, surely, be exposed soon.) They hang on to their jobs because they don't have the guts to protest, as you did, about the endemic corruption of these fascist theocracies. As for you, mediamonster, I imagine that you once worked on a local rag in the UK and have washed up up in the UAE, where you are a small cog in ghastly giveaway mags. Your use of capital letters and swear words suggests that you are mentally unbalanced as well as fantasically thick.

Anonymous said...

charming sense of solidarity there. maybe she was a bit naive, but how about sticking together a bit. she lost her job, you twat. (And, remember, Al Arabiya isn't a foreign country, fool.)

Anonymous said...

Sigh. I think the point being made is that having the same person as head of the aviation authority (responsible for air safety) and the head of the leading airline is a conflict of interest.

Of course, pointing out the bleeding obvious is an entirely legitimate reason for dismissal when you work for a MIDDLE EAST COMPANY.

mediamonster said...

It's not my comment or opinion - it's a comment made by an Anonymous person to Courtney's original comment, posted in this thread here:
Wam Bam Al Bayan - you can see the original at 08 November, 2009 18:37.

I just pasted it into this topic as it was a direct response to her. Note the Anonymous said... put in italics under a ----- divider.

For supposed media people some of you have fucking poor comprehension skills.

Anonymous said...

Mediamonster, I posted a comment y'day (pointing out that the use of capital letters and swear words suggested you were mentally unbalanced.) My apology. I thought you had written that comment. Nonethless, my basic point - and it is echoed by others, especially the person who described the UAE as a sandy backwater with delusions of grandeur - holds good: that journalists working in this region soon discover the realities of life (such as never mentioning, let alone reporting, the corruption of the ruling families) here.

Robert said...

I suspect there is more to this story than Ms Radsch and others have told us.

The story of EK407 from MEL can be read online at the Melbourne Sun-Herald's site. There are plenty of informed and speculative comments on

And there is the preliminary report of the Australian Air Transport Safety Board.

The trouble is that fatigue does not appear to be an issue in this accident.

Standard operating procedures were ignored and a huge error was made which nearly cost hundreds of lives. Sure the crew did a great job in saving the situation; but it was a crisis of their own making.

The SOPs exist for a reason.

Yes fatique is an issue at EK. It is an issue for just about every airline flying. Look at the Colgan Air crash at Buffalo.

Her report was a rehash of the Sun-Herald with some additional comments from an EK cabin crew. It was hardly inciteful.

Sure the local media has steered clear of commenting on the details of the accident. That will be harder to do when the final report is released by the ATSB. It will likely include details from the CVR and will be critical of the crew and probably of certain procedures.

On the positive side the incident may well have been a wake up call to the airline.

There is no cover up of this incident. There is plenty of good material that you can read online. Sadly Ms Radsch did not add anything of value to the story.

Anonymous said...

i thought shakey Mo wanted to improve dubai's image and attract more inward investment.

isn't transparency the watchword now. in which case Emirates should be more open about airline safety issues, if it is indeed an issue.

i dont think courtenay should be vilified for testing the bopundaries of wehat freedom of expression really means.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I hope you continue to do well in your career. It is such a pity to lose a job in so sudden and unfair manner.

I do not think the case is black and white.

I read the story when it was first published in the Australian press then on your site.

You did a follow up. I did think then that your story was unusual for the region and fair. It actually made me think that the airline has a point.

And regardless of whether it is government owned or not, it is one of the bettter airlines in the world.

It is such a pity to lose a job over a follow up! Dubai IS crazy. I didn't agree though that you had to lose all your rent and everything. Now that more and more people are leaving Dubai rather suddently landlords are okay with returning cheques or deposits... sometimes they allow you to send a letter of authority and hand over the cheque to a friend... Its a matter of details and organising your departure carefully, even in two days or three.

I am curious to see how this would be different elsewhere in face of commerical interests rather than political power. Perhaps elsewhere the story would be pulled or diluted...

I would have done the follow up differently - perhaps go the original source and see if this is the state of affairs in other airlines as well.

But most importantly, I am glad you could take a stand and be brave about it. I hope you continue doing good work whereever you are.

Anonymous said...

Article on this kind of Emirates censorshop in AlAkhbar newspaper this week, very critical:

sharewadi said...

09 November, 2009 01:57 Anonymous said ...

can you buy shares in emirates airline on the dubai stockmarket ?
Not yet but there have been rumours of an upcoming EK IPO for the past few years. Don't hold your breath.

EK financial statements are publicly available because there is an EK bond listed on the DFM.

Courtney said...

I didn't write a negative article. The article was pretty straightforward information about the FAA report and the airline's response. It wasn't negative per se, and yes I realize I was employed by a Middle Eastern company but my understanding before going was that I would be allowed to do my job as long as I didn't publish anything critical of the royal families (KSA, UAE) or Saudi Arabia. But this was a public safety issue, of extreme important not only to the UAE but to people around the world who fly on this airline. And they should know that a member of the ruling family is both head of the airline and the regulatory authority, since this present a potentially disastrous conflict of interest. I added a quote from an employee of the airline, which contributed to the larger narrative, but no I didn't go out and investigate myself, I simply published an article about the latest developments. I'm sure there's more to find out, but I'm no longer in that position so I suppose some other watchdog will have to. The whole question about a public offering presents interesting issues as well...

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