The journalist’s curse
“Why are you going there? What will you be doing during your stay? Who is receiving you?” And the list goes on.
As I arrived in Doha, I found the same questions. And again in Beirut.
I’m used to it.
In fact, as I approach passport control personnel, I know what’s coming and mentally prepare myself for at least ten minutes worth of interrogation. At times, I want to confront them and ask just what the deal is with them and journalists. But I know from experience that this doesn’t get me anywhere; instead, it simply prolongs my suffering at the hands of unyielding, “journaphobic” security personnel.
A new mental and cultural approach towards the media’s role in society is needed for Arab countries, including those working on new systems.
It needs to be recognized that journalists hold positive and constructive professions that aim to endorse justice and citizens’ rights.
Here in Yemen, if only people knew how much work we do to create a better environment for Yemen’s people – and how much we struggle to obtain accurate information and disseminate it in a comprehensible way to readers, thereby allowing them to make better life decisions.
Our lives as journalists in a developing country are not easy. We work under unstable conditions and circumstances, with little pay and long hours, and still we continue because we believe in peoples’ rights to information and in freedom of expression.
With all these challenges, it is not right to also be confronted with a rigid system above and beyond our working environment. This is the reason journalists in developing countries constantly leave their chosen profession to explore other avenues of employment. The alternative is for them to become disheartened and halfhearted – either that, or to become corrupt and use journalism to make money in unethical ways.
An urgent shift in mentality is needed. This is a call to all readers: please make journalists’ lives and work easier in every way that you can. We need this in order to be able to make our world a more just and happy place.