by Khaled Abu Toameh
More of these "intifadas" are needed -- but to rid the Arabs of corrupt reporters and editors whose only job is to defend Arab dictators and their family members and henchmen. A reporter who wants to priase his or her leader should find a job with the government's Ministry of Information and stop pretending to be a journalist.
The current popular uprisings sweeping through the Arab world have revealed the fact that many journalists have been receiving funds from Arab dictators.
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his sons are said to have bankrolled dozens of Arab journalists in return for turning a blind eye to what the Libyan regime was doing to its people. The list of beneficiaries included newspaper editors, reporters and columnists from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Gulf and the Palestinian territories.
Senior Arab journalists living in London and Paris also said to have been on the Libyan regime's payroll.
Gaddafi and his sons are not the only ones who have been bribing journalists in the Arab world. The regime of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and several oil-rich Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia have for decades offered bribes to Arab journalists.
This explains why many Arab journalists have refrained from reporting anything that reflected negatively on their paymasters.
Instead of reporting on the grievances of Arabs living under dictatorships, these journalists often engaged in heaping praise on Arab regimes and criticizing only one country: Israel.
When was the last time a Syrian journalist living in Syria published an investigative report about massive abuse of human rights or financial corruption in his or her country? Or has anyone ever heard of a Saudi journalist living in Saudi Arabia who dared to criticize the monarch or a member of the royal family there?
One can almost understand why a journalist living under an Arab dictatorship would accept a bribe. Journalists who have dared to attack their leaders and governments or failed to toe the official line have often been targeted by the secret security services in their countries.
But what is not understandable is the fact that Arab journalists living in the West would agree to betray their profession by accepting money from corrupt tyrants. An Arab journalist living in New York, Paris or London cannot argue that he or she is afraid.
The uprisings in the Arab world could finally put an end to the phenomenon of bribing journalists. In an encouraging sign, a large number of Egyptian journalists have waged an "intifada" against editors and reporters who served as mouthpieces for Mubarak in return for money and other favors.
In Tunisia, the new government has already removed journalists who served as organs for deposed President Zine al-Abidin bin Ali from their jobs.
Yet the majority of Arab countries still have a long way to go before acknowledging the significance of true and objective journalism. Opposition newspapers are almost non-existent in most of the Arab countries; that is why many decent journalists have been forced to launch media outlets in Western capitals.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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