By Ray Hanania | November 13th, 2007
Journalists do not immediately associate “diversity” with the Middle East media but it is a major topic among Middle East journalists. Usually, journalists in the West only think narrowly about the issue of women’s rights in the Middle East and Islamic World. It does go beyond that.
This week, the issue came up in a keynote speech by Wadah Khanfar at the Arabian Business Media and Marketing Conference in — I know this is considered profanity in American but I am going to say it anyway — DUBAI.
Most Americans wouldn’t know who Khanfar is because of the Demonization of Arabs that takes place in this country, a form of discrimination that is one step worse than racism. But Khanfar is one of the most influential media personalities in the Middle East, and director general of — get ready, I am going to say another bad word in the American lexicon, AL-JAZEERA.
Khafar slammed the 24-hour media frenzy as being concerned with headlines rather than substance. He told the packed crowd in Dubai that the media needs to “slow down” sometimes to get the story right, (rather than the FOX Cable News system of report whatever and slowly get it right, with an emphasis on “right” being a political not journalistic term).
But, Khanfar also said that the media must focus on diversity, too. According to ArabianBusiness.com, one of the leading media and business resources in the Middle East, Khafar said,
“Diversity is also key. Before Al Jazeera was launched in 1996 the majority of voices in the region were Western. The concept of diversity is one of the key secrets to success. We have Muslims and Christians, we have men and women and we have a huge age and experience range with people who have 35 years experience at the BBC and others who have only known Al Jazeera,” he added.
“We should always try to embrace diversity and distance ourselves away from one colour and one religion.”
Khanfar then said something most Western media pretend isn’t a problem right here in the United States. Be independent.
Khanfar also urged “those who finance media” and who want to make an instant return on their investment to “distance themselves from the newsroom”.
“The Qatari government understood this from the beginning and more than any other government in the region. Journalism should be left alone from governments.”
Now, the idea of al-Jazeera not being independent is a fabrication created by the bosses who own the American media. Comcast Cable refused to allow Al-Jazeera (English) to be offered to its American subscribers (as a choice) mainly out of prejudice and fear that adding the Middle East new voice to the lineup would give AT&T a weapon to use it the campaign it was drafting to challenge Comcast Cable TV market share.
I can just imagine AT&T Cable’s marketing message in appealing to people to switch: “We don’t broadcast the terrorist news network. Comcast Cable TV, does.”
God forbid that Americans might be able to hear something and use their own brains to figure out what is truth and what is not truth on their own, without being manipulated by the mass media in this country.
Yet the reality is that the American public and the mass media is being slowly pushed aside by a media presence based in the Middle East that is growing in influence and pushing the American media to the side. One day, the center of the Media Universe won’t be in the United States where only approved news is reported and race and political opinion are factors in deciding who works in the news media. It will be in the Middle East which is providing more news to the rest of the world than ever before.
You can read this and other stories from the Media and Marketing Conference that took place in Dubai at ArabianBussines.com: