Journalists told to cover FNC sessions objectively

Journalists told to cover FNC sessions objectively

Media award announced; newspapers urged to train reporters

By Ahmed Shaaban/senior Reporter

Published: Wed 26 Nov 2014, 12:25 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:18 PM

Dr Mona Al Bahr coordinating the first session of the Parliamentary Media Forum 2014. — Supplied photo

Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, Speaker of the Federal National Council, announced at the Parliamentary Media Forum 2014, featuring the role of media in enhancing parliamentary culture and political participation, that the FNC has decided to launch the Parliamentary Media Award to develop the performance of parliamentary media system in general and the FNC in particular. On the sidelines of the forum, he told Khaleej Times that mass media, as a fourth estate, needs to highlight the important issues being raised for discussion in the council. He said the FNC, believing in the critical role of media, had announced the award. “All mass media are invited to chip in as per the rules and conditions applied,” he added.

“Media can turn any subject, comment, query or draft law being debated in the council into a public opinion by meeting members, getting details, analyses, and doing thorough investigations.”

Media is an integral part of all parliaments, particularly in the UAE which is to see the third FNC elections for the 17th legislative chapter next year 2015, he noted.

“There is some development in the FNC media coverage, but all parties concerned need to do more and cooperate to develop people’s political awareness, and give a boost to parliamentary culture and interaction with legislative bodies and better communication between the FNC members and the public.”

Addressing the one-day meeting, expected to be held on an annual basis, Al Murr said parliamentary media has become an inevitable pillar for the development of contemporary senatorial life. “We are in need for a specialised media to honestly transfer parliamentary works, yet more importantly discuss, comment, analyse and get feedback on them from the public.”

Parliaments, undertaking legislative and political responsibilities, speak people’s hopes, problems and issues on all aspects of life, he elaborated. “Thus, media, as part of its social responsibility, should shed light and convey all these issues in an objective and interactive way involving all government and civil entities in a fruitful dialogue.

Dr Mona Al Bahr, who chairs the council’s education, youth and media committee, told Khaleej Times that some reporters are well-qualified to cover parliamentary works while many others are not.

“It is not acceptable at all for some newspapers to cover the statements of the government and turn a deaf ear to all the members’ comments, discussions, and sometimes up to six-hour long discussions.”

It is unfair and unprofessional to interview one or two FNC members all the time, and totally neglect the others, she added.

“What about other members’ valuable remarks, comments, suggestions, opinions, inputs, and feedback?” she wondered.

Al Bahr, who is also associate professor at the United Arab Emirates University, urged local newspapers to train its staff reporters to cover the FNC work professionally.

Social responsibility

“I would recommend that some local reporters be sent for a one-month training at the European Parliament to learn how professional media is doing the job there, and then transfer that expertise and equipment to the country.”

Al Bahr said reporters assigned to cover the FNC works should show social responsibility and reflect the voice of all members let alone the government comment.

“Each and every national is anticipating for every word written or broadcast about the FNC session, and hence a parliamentary reporter should sincerely transfer members’ discussions and comments on a draft law. The sessions may sometimes extend from 9am to 6pm.”

Al Bahr urged Emirati nationals to follow the FNC sessions and works, and approach their representatives. “All parties concerned should be involved to be aware of the members’ tireless effort for the benefit of the national and nationals.”

The forum, featuring five study papers in two sessions, shed light on some models of the parliamentary media in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, European Union, and the FNC, apart from the role of media in the parliamentary elections.

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