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Monday, August 02, 2004

'There are no journalists in the Arab world,'

July 29, 2004

"'There are no journalists in the Arab world,' the editor of one of the Arabic papers said to me when I asked him why [his paper] was not covering a particular journalistic story. I heard the exact same complaint from one publisher who said, 'We have authors, but no journalists.' ...

"The first [problem] is that our culture is not like the Catholic culture that emphasizes confession, particularly when the individual has sinned. Likewise, an individual confessing a crime against himself or others [is considered] unacceptable among us. We raise our sons [with the belief] that it is not manly to confess, to cry, or to acknowledge that repression and oppression have broken an individual's determination and perhaps damaged his masculinity.

"Our newspapers will focus only on heroic deeds and overcoming difficulties. This is praiseworthy. But there are many personal defeats, retreats, and torments, and we must let those who have experienced them talk about them. This requires change in the newspaper culture, or in the so-called newsroom culture. ...

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