A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the joys of SANA

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 31, 2006

SANA is the Syrian Arab News Agency, which reports on major national events such as (quoting today’s main page headlines)

Syria and Germany enjoy continuous progress in their joint ties [progress no doubt aided by Israel’s ‘misunderstanding’ cum missile attack on a German boat off the coast of Lebanon earlier this week]


Syria and Yemen to sign agreement in fishery field

Every so often, though, a more intriguing bit of news – and commentary – appears. Today that bit was

Press in Syria became more daring in criticism, journalists’ chairman says (http://www.sana.org/eng/21/2006/10/30/80043.htm)

The first part is good, suggesting that the Syrian government is now taking a greater interest in promoting and supporting changes in its press laws:

Chairman of the Journalists’ Union Elias Murad said on Monday that press in Syria has become more courageous and daring in criticism and talking about mistakes in order to correct them.

“Syria has taken important steps in order to transform press in Syria from a governmental press into a social and state one,” Mr. Murad added during a meeting with a delegation of foreign journalists accredited in Spain.

He underlined that newspapers in Syria include daily articles that criticize government performance, noting to the absence of an absolute media freedom in any country of the world.

The closing paragraph, which follows directly on the paragraphs above, takes Syrian journalism in a different direction:

“Journalists in Syria are distinguished by their high national emotions as they always defend issues of the people and homeland,” chairman of Journalists Union said.

In other words, if you are a Syrian journaist, think carefully before you decide to write one of those articles critical of the government’s performance.

As an aside, I must note that the nadi al-si7afiyeen, the Journalists’ Club, was a very welcome source of good food, well-packed argilehs, inter-table conversation, and Nasrallah appearances on Jazeera this summer. The staff generously extended the warmth with which they treat my friend and then-host A., a local analyst, to me. Sometimes I wondered how they categorized me: did they think, oh, she must be a journalist so we will extend that warmth as a professional courtesy. or did they see A. ordering plates of mezzeh for me when he was dissatisfied with my performance in ordering for myself and think: oh, she must be his wife so we will treat her well in his absence, as she is clearly here because she is too incompetent to take care of herself. probably the latter.


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