Monday, July 02, 2007

Arab Media (2) - And now for something positive

I feel in a positive mood, so hence the above title. As promised before, I'll sometimes post here something about the Arab Media.

But first this: There are NO good Arab newspapers. These are not my words - but of media specialists here in Beirut (who are all Arabs themselves).

Still - and that explains the positive mood - some papers are actually pretty ok.

Forget most stuff in Arabic, because it's all connected to a certain political party, royal family or some kind of loonie-toonie local sheik.

As mentioned a couple of days ago - one of the main problems is that most papers are made by unprofessional journalists. Result: don't waste your time.

Even a newspaper like the Daily Star (Lebanese daily) is actually a rather crappy paper. The only thing they basically do is publish AP and AFP stories. And everyday one extremely uninteresting culture-page and a sudoku. So only for people whose hobby is "collecting news wire stories one day after they were published for free on the Internet" it is advisable to read the Daily Star. Even better: Patients with serious insomnia can be cured by reading not less than five, bur for sure not more than seven Daily Star culture pages. According to medical reports: reading more than seven might be dangerous. At the other hand - Daily Star every now and then has a nice "own" story about some developments in Lebanon. More 'then' though than 'now'.

But let me not be to harsh on Arab papers. Because if you look at many newspapers in the West - my god, what the fuck is wrong with these reporters. The Sun, Bild, all this free junk...

Anyway, here are a couple of ok papers from the Middle East.

First of all - surprise surprise - a Saudi paper called Arab News. It is absolutely not independent (pro royal family), but the stories are nicely written and give some nice insides into Saudi life. (links follow below)

Second: The Asia Times. Very, very nice Internet only paper for people who really wanna know what's going on in the Middle East, South Asia and rest Asia. Really excellent stuff. Kind of always anti-Bush, but at least they've got a point.

And third (but for sure the best): Dawn, Pakistan's most influential newspaper (in English). Ok, Pakistan isn't the Arab world, but Dawn is a newspaper that Arabs can be jealous off. Highly critical of the Musharraf government, Jehadi groups etc, actually damn fair reporting. (the only thing I miss in Dawn are these little 'colour' articles - much of it is just news). But if you wanna follow developments in one of the worlds most crucial countries (I mean, almost every terror plot has a Pakistani link) you have to read Dawn. The Dawn guys manage everyday to produce an e-paper (an exact copy of the whole, print paper). And the best thing you can access it for FREE. Just register (takes a minute) and you can read Dawn on your laptop as if you were living in Islamabad. Dawn is great - even many Dutch newspapers don't provide this e-paper service. So: Pakistan Zindabad!

Ok'ish: Al Ahram from Egypt. But they tend to go on and on (and on of course) about Israel. (Another insomnia medicine?)

Very rarely ok'ish: Daily Star from Lebanon.
Am sure this list is far from complete, but anyway: (click on 'e-paper', up, left of screen)

And for all Iranian, Syrian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Lybian, Afghani and many other publications, the following link might be useful:


Anonymous said...

Another Arab paper that is not bad at all is Asharq Alawsat (The Middel East), English version.

Harald Doornbos said...

True. Thanks for your suggestion!

Riemer Brouwer said...

What about the quality of western journalists in the Arab World?

You know, Arab newspapers and their journalists are usually not to be trusted, but how do you feel about western journalists? Do you feel they give a "correct" picture of the situation?

Asking a question is answering it, so you already know my position, but what do you think Harald?

Menno said...

When I was in Jordan I read one of the English language newspapers there (could it have been the Jordan Times or something like that?) and thought it was quite okay-ish. (Expecting the kind of rubbish you described, with lots of antisemitism and conspiracy theories.)

Harald Doornbos said...

Menno -

Jordan Times is ok, except for the fact that it is not a real newspaper. I mean; it is printed on paper - so it looks like a newspaper. But its basically a collection of newswire stories (AFP, AP) and news on the king. Just checked it out for you today: the main story today is (again): King meets somebody (the new french president -

So for sure - if you wanna know everything about the king; its the paper to read. And NO Jordanian ever reads the Jordan Times. It is an outlet for Western tourists visiting Jordan.

Have to admit that the Jordan Times is much more readible and less 'weirdo-propaganda stuff' in it than the Syrian Times or the Teheran Times. My god, I still own copies of the Iraqi Times during Saddam - just insane (One week before the American attack stories like: "Iraqi basket making an old traditon"). But at the end of the day - non of all these publications are newspapers, and that includes the Jordan Times.

Cheers and thanks for your comment.

w. burger said...

I remember reading the Jordan Times a few times in 1999 and it was awful - by comparison I liked the Daily Star. I found it especially surprising that the Jordan Times contained so much antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda while the Daily Star wrote balanced and nuanced articles about Israel. I found that surprising since (A) Jordan had made peace with Israel five years earlier and (B) probably controls the media fairly strictly, while Lebanon (A) did not have a peace agreement with Israel and (B) has freedom of press. I would therefore have expected it the other way around.

I have another question for Harald, what about the quality of the Arab language press? I am asking this since the English language press is probably read by only a small fraction of the population, and the Arab language newspapers have a much bigger readership.

willemj said...

I read the l'orient le jour quite often and think it's ok'ish