Separate editorial policy from news, urges WP editor

ABU DHABI — Newspapers and media organisations can have open political inclinations as long as there was a clear line separating their editorial policy and news columns, a Western journalist said here yesterday.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Tue 22 Feb 2005, 9:22 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:33 PM

"Newspapers can have their own political leanings in editorial columns but that should never be reflected in their news coverage," David Ignatious, Editor, Washington Post, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of "E-ducation Without Borders" conference that concluded at the Emirates Palace Hotel yesterday.

Speaking about the role played by Al Jazeera in airing Arab views, the veteran journalist said the channel would do well to take a leaf out of Washington Post to improve its credibility.

"I would suggest Al Jazeera to have an unbiased half hour review of its own programme by an ombudsman, much like we do in Washington Post," he said, adding that the ombudsman could be a well-respected veteran Arab journalist who will give a free and fair criticism of the channel's stand on various issues. David pointed out that the Washington Post ran a weekly column by an independent columnist who openly criticises the paper's coverage.

"He sometimes turns us editors furious with his scathing attack on our stand, but it helps our newspaper to be unbiased and fair in our coverage," he said.

Lauding the growth of Al Jazeera as a positive development in Arab journalism, David, however, denounced the channel for airing only what appealed to the Arab audience.

"If US satellite channels can be blamed for representing the US truth, Al Jazeera is the mouthpiece of Arab truth," he said, even as he agreed that it was impossible to be objective in coverage. He, however, said it was important to listen to both sides.

Stating that embedded journalism meant an end to independent and impartial reporting, he said one can't give fair coverage to Iraq imbroglio when embedded with coalition forces nor can one be fair to Palestinians if embedded with Israeli forces.

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