Regular readers know, we really are not fans of the palestinian Ma’an News Agency. To put it simply, they give Saeb Erekat (and pretty much all palestinian leaders) a run for his money when it comes to an aversion to the truth.
We are clearly not the only ones who think so, because here’s a piece by palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh criticizing Ma’an’s journalistic quality.
When the Bethlehem-based M’aan News Agency (MNA) was launched in 2005, with generous funding from the Danish, Dutch and UK governments as well as the EU, UNDP, and UNESCO, many Palestinians thought, or more correctly hoped, it would be a qualitative addition to the highly polarized and chronically biased Palestinian media.
Some observers thought the European-funded outlet would soon overcome its numerous problems, including a shocking lack of professionalism, under-trained or untrained staff, serious reportorial flaws and the highly anti-Islamic tendentiousness characterizing the agency’s general discourse.
However, eight years on, it seems that the overall performance of M’aan is exacerbating and regressing, almost from every conceivable perspective.
I don’t claim to be the ultimate arbiter who determines what is journalistically professional and what is not. However, there is ample evidence indicting MNA for its excessive un-professionalism, biased news writing, and the brazenly scandalous mixing of hard news with personal opinions. One doesn’t have to have a Ph.D. in journalism from a prestigious college to detect these flaws.
I am not happy about this sorry state of affair afflicting the agency. I don’t think anyone is. Deviation-especially willful deviation-from professional standards and ethics is a cardinal sin in journalism. True journalists must always cling to the timeless journalistic maxim: facts are sacred, comments are free.
Last week, I sought to alert M’aan to the rampant mixing of hard news with personal views by its reporters. I wrote an Arabic piece to that effect entitled ليست بريئة وعليها الالتزام بأخلاق المهنة معا” ” وكالة ( The M’aan News Agency is not innocent and must abide by the ethics of the profession) in the hope that the agency would try to fix the serious flaws.
I spoke twice with an official at the agency headquarters in Bethlehem but to no avail. Eventually, M’aan, which promised to publish the article as an opinion piece, reneged on its promise. Ostensibly, the editorial board viewed the piece too damaging to its reputation and image. But the article was published by some Palestinian newspapers and posted on several websites.
This writer can actually present hundreds of examples where M’aan reporters mixed their own views with hard news. This is not an exaggeration. The mixing of hard news with personal views actually constitutes a sort of modus operandi at M’aan. M’aan does this every hour, every day, every week and every month, either willfully or out ignorance or simply due to the absence of accountability.
Consider the following report, published by M’aan on Monday, 25 August, 2013 around noon. The lead paragraph of the Arabic text of report reads:
“دعت الجبهة الديمقراطية وحزب الكرامة الناصري إلى عدم الخلط بين شعب فلسطين وقواه الثورية والديمقراطية وبين أية عناصر فلسطينية يمينية دينية طائفية متخلفة وظلامية منخرطة مع الارهابيين لإعادة مصر إلى الوراء عشرات عشرات السنين.”
The translation: Cairo: M’aan news Agency-” The Democratic Front (for the Liberation of Palestine) and the (Egyptian) Nasserist Karama (Dignity) Party called for making a distinction between the people of Palestine and its revolutionary and democratic forces on the one hand- and on the other hand- any rightist Palestinian elements that are religious, sectarian, primitive and obscurant, which are involved with the terrorists, who want to take Egypt back tens tens of years.”
Notice the word “tens” was printed twice, which means the report may not have passed through the editorial section or was even seen by the proofreader!
Now, is this type of news writing compatible with the professional standards that journalism students learn in journalism schools and universities? The truth of the matter is this type of news writing has more in common with the performance of the Soviet Communist newspaper, Pravda, or worse, the Nazi Party newspaper, Der Strumer.
I should point out that Khalid Amayreh himself seems to be a poor excuse of a journalist. For instance, in this Press TV interview, he refers to Palestinian “resistance,” which is exactly the type of “mixing with personal views” for which he eviscerates Ma’an. And there’s plenty more extreme Israel hatred-moonlighting-as-journalism from where that came from. Heck, the fact he even appeared on a propaganda outfit like Press TV is enough to dismiss him as a journalist of any credibility.
So why mention his Ma’an hit piece at all? Because it is always nice to see Israel haters going at it.