State Minister for Information Affairs: Where are the ethics of journalism!

Manama,  (BNA)– Licensed local newspapers and mass media have been urged today to abide by the ethics of the profession and ascertain of any news from official sources to ensure credibility and avoid any useless controversy. Speaking at a press conference after the cabinet meeting today, State Minister for Information Affairs Samira Ibrahim bin Rajab,

Manama,  (BNA)– Licensed local newspapers and mass media have been urged today to abide by the ethics of the profession and ascertain of any news from official sources to ensure credibility and avoid any useless controversy.

Speaking at a press conference after the cabinet meeting today, State Minister for Information Affairs Samira Ibrahim bin Rajab, the government’s official Spokesperson, dismissed allegations by a local newspaper as untrue, describing a recent report it published on a fire that broke out in one of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) buildings as a regrettable attempt to unrightfully tarnish the reputation of individuals and institutions and impede the development march in Bahrain.

She said that the piece of news puts a question mark on the newspaper’s credibility and places it among “yellow newspapers” instead of benefiting the readers. She added that it is both laughable and sorrowful that the piece of news was based on unknown sources on the social communication websites. “This is dangerous and unprofessional and raises more than one question on the credibility of the newspaper if we take into account that many of those websites are fake and suspicious or created to attack individuals and institutions,” she stressed.

“Blowing the incident out of proportion is deliberate as saying the spiraling smoke of the fire was seen as far away as from Manama is illogical and ridicules the readers’ minds,” she said, adding that describing the fire as a “mystery” downplays professionalism of the security bodies which intervened quickly and put out the blaze in a record time. She also pointed out that the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Forensic Evidence submitted its report on the incident with utter objectivity.

Another evidence that the piece of news lacks professionalism and aims to mar the reputation of people and institutions, the minister said, is that the relevant newspaper should have rather contacted one of IAA officials to enquire about the matter, which is the simplest rule of journalism. Yet, she added, the newspaper chose to show its weak professional level which holds it legally accountable.

She also said that speaking about a project director who works for foreign parties bares no iota of truth and is defamatory of a person who worked in line with previous agreements with IAA over the past ten years to carry out development projects which were monitored by more than one Information Minister. “The question here is why nothing was said about that person before when he worked with former Information Ministers?”

The minister also laid bare another lie by the newspaper when it wrote about a contract with a particular company, pointing out that so far IAA has signed no contract with any company in this respect. She asserted that the authority will choose the suitable company for its project according to laws and competence.

To further clarify the issue, the State Minister for Information Affairs said the building has been undergoing a revamp programme architecturally and technically for more than a year in order to become a location for a new TV channel which has nothing to do with the name mentioned in the newspaper. It will rather be part of Bahrain TV channels bouquet and the ministry’s five-year strategy plan approved by the cabinet last year.

She added the building was built more than 20 years ago and is being renovated so as to ensure it meets the required specifications, as part of IAA strategy to improve its infrastructure. She explained that according to the final report of the Forensic Investigations Directorate, the fire was triggered by an electrical short circuit which coincided with putting up central air-conditioning devices by a maintenance company. “The damage was minimal and, thanks God, the equipment in the building was not affected and will be used in carrying out channel 2 project,” she said, pointing out that all government buildings are secured.

The minister pledged to go ahead with the project as per the ministry’s strategic plan to boost IAA infrastructure. “Such allegations and false accusations will never deter us from going ahead with reforming the media sector which suffers first and foremost, as it can be noticed, from lack of professionalism and credibility,” she vowed.

She also said that unlike what was mentioned in the newspaper, the building which caught the fire was not abandoned as there is no abandoned building in IAA premises. “The building used to host certain programmes which had been shifted to other studios before the blaze to pave the way for the renovation,” she asserted, pointing out that measures to be taken against the newspaper are under study.

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