MADA: 80% of Palestinian journalists censored themselves
Ramallah- 16/10/2014: The Palestinian center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), held an open meeting on self-censorship and its impact on freedom of expression and media in Palestine. Tens of journalists who work at local, Arabic and International media outlets, besides media students participated in the open meeting that was held in Ramallah city yesterday.
The general director of MADA Mousa Rimawi said that the self-censorship is the most serious and dangerous kind of censorships that journalists face, explaining that the self-censorship’s roots began since the occupation years that was before the establishment of the Palestinian authority. Where the direct censorship was intensive most of the time and was escalating during the first Intifada; which strengthened the self-censorship among journalists and media outlets. The media outlets and journalists used different methods to circumvent the censorship back to that time.
During the meeting entitled “The self-censorship is there a way to get rid of it?” Rimawi said that the self-censorship that continued after the establishment of the Palestinian authority has escalated concretely and dangerously after the Palestinian division in 2007 and what it witnessed in the first years of violations against the freedom of expression. This all have sowed fear in journalists and stimulated the self-censorship on their work, despite that the Palestinian basic law prohibits the censorship on media outlets.
Rimawi added: “Self-censorship negatively affects the freedom of expression and the professional level of the Palestinian media which already faces many obstacles.” Explaining that the society censorship also strengths the self-censorship as well. He also said that this meeting is a part of a series of activities that MADA will conduct in order to reduce the self-censorship and to enhance freedom of media and expression, supported by Open Society Foundations (OSF). He called the journalists and media outlets to contribute in this effort.
During the meeting, some results of two studies that MADA has published were presented one was about self-censorship, the second one that MADA has recently published entitled “The official Palestinian media and freedom of expression “ and one of its parts focused on censorship self -censorship which shows that 80% of the journalists who were surveyed for this study practice self-censorship on some or all their materials they write or produce, on the other hand only 19% said that they do not practice any kind of censorship on their work.
According to the same study, 68% of the journalists said that some of their and their colleagues’ journalistic materials was banned from publishing many times, and they believe the reason is related to freedom of media.
The participant talked about their practical experiences that are relevant to self-censorship and its reasons besides its spreading limits and its negative impact on the quality of the journalistic material.
They explained that the spread of self-censorship is not only related to the official institutions, and that it is also related to fears that the society, the publishers or other sides push the journalists and media outlets to avoid talking about some subjects or to curtailment it while editing it.
According to their experience, the journalists emphasized that seeking the correct information and the professionalism capable of overcoming many reasons of self-censorship and to let the journalists get rid of it. Explaining the importance of the harmony and integration between the media outlets will encourage talking about sensitive subjects and reduces the fear and the self-censorship. They also stressed the need of providing a legal environment to protect the journalists from the prosecution on the background of their professional work, and to include the censorship in the media sections subjects in the universities.