Dramatic shift in state media coverage

Published on 12 January 2012 in News
Sadeq Al-Wesabi (author)

Sadeq Al-Wesabi


SANA'A, Jan. 8 — For more than three decades, the state-run newspapers, TV channels and radio stations were dedicated to promoting President Saleh and his regime.


However, this heavily biased coverage began to change over the last few days.


Salah Al-Asadi, a pro-democracy protester was surprised when he saw Saturday's issue of state-run Al-Thawra newspaper, which published a picture of anti-regime protesters on the front page.


Because of his contribution to changing the performance of public media, anonymous people threatened Minister of Information Ali Al-Amrani last week.


From the beginning of the uprising in Yemen, state-run channels intensified their programs against the revolution and spread false rumors about the anti-regime protesters, depicting them as vandals.


Dozens of journalists, broadcasters and employees working in state-run media resigned in protest of incitement against the revolutionary protesters.


Jalal Al-Haddad, 27, was working for state-run Saba News but he resigned because of the biased policy of the channel against the revolution but recently returned. Al-Haddad isn't totally satisfied with the recent change in the performance of the governmental media but he is fairly optimistic about it.


Currently, he is preparing a program about people's economic suffering and problems caused by poverty. "We want to change the policy of the channel for the better. We will do our best to highlight the pulse of the streets instead of focusing on one person [President Saleh]."


Public media, especially TV channels, have affected the views of many Yemenis who depend on TV to receive news. Some people refused to watch the opposition and independent channels and prevented their families from watching these “inflammatory channels”.


Abdulrazzq Al-Hattami, a columnist and managing editor of independent Al-Shomoa newspaper is optimistic about a turnaround in the performance of state media. "It has shifted 180 degrees and really become a national media."


"The recent issues of the public newspapers were completely different. They gave me a flavor of objectivity and real journalism," he said happily. "Now, the public newspapers are respected by all Yemenis and revolution protesters."


For her part, Dr. Samiya Al-Aghbari, journalism professor at Sana'a University, told the Yemen Times that the performance of public media would not change overnight – the people in charge of these media means should be changed, she said.


Speaking about the recent improvement in the performance of public media, she said: "It's a positive step but this change is happening slowly."


Al-Aghbari hoped that the state media focus on humanitarian issues in next stages. "Our state media should give space for all parties. It shouldn't be dedicated to serving one person.