Media · Middle East · Politics

Arabs Media – A reality check from a 1968 theater play

Once in an English Communication class, attended by only international students, we had a discussion about printed newspapers. A South Korean student mentioned how his government limits number of copies printed for each privately-owned newspaper. Our American teacher didn’t infer the reason since logically the more newspapers sold the more taxes the government generates. I explained to the instructor that some governments have their own newspaper, or government-sponsored, hence they want to make sure that their word takes precedence over other opinions, money comes second to what they need to convince the public about.

Jordanian government for example used, and maybe still, requires public companies and institutes to advertise in government sponsored newspaper. This way the government makes sure their newspaper never goes out of print.

In the Lebanese theater play Al-Shakhes  (loosely translated as The Governor or the Ruler), 1968, the city manager ordered all street vendors to be moved away before the governor’s arrival. This practice is done in most if not all Arab countries to show the ruler that the country is doing great under his wise leadership; advanced, clean, safe and no poor people. During the governor’s visit a female street vendor showed up and caused some disturbance. Here is an excerpt* of what happened next:

City manager:Yes, press secretary?
Press secretary: We sent the complaint to the court.
City manager: And what did the newspapers say?
Press secretary: They condemned what the woman did.
City manager: All newspapers?
Press secretary: Those with us wrote for our sake.
City manager: Did anyone send telegram [to us condemning what the woman did]?
Press secretary: No one yet.
City manager: Send to those who usually send to send us a telegram.

More than four decades have passed and I don’t think we have seen much improvement since then. And of course internet soon to join what governments control since governments know best.
* In Arabic:

نعم يا أمين السر؟
حولنا الدعوه على المحكمه
والجرايد شو أآلت؟
استنكرت عمل البنت يللي اساءت للشخص
كل الجرايد؟
اللي معنا كتبوا معنا
حدى بعت برئيات؟
بعد ما في برئيات
ابعتوا للي بيبعتوا خليهم يبعتوا


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