Deputy Chairman of the Palestinian journalists' syndicate, Nasser Abu Bakr in an interview with Arabstoday about the inherent problems which exist within the Palestinian media, explained that Palestinians "do not have up-to-date media experience because of the Israeli occupation." He blamed this, together with a lack of current media legislation, on three institutions naming the Palestinian journalists' syndicate of which he is deputy chairman, the Palestinian government and the owners of media organisations. Abu Bakr gave an assurance that the journalists' syndicate would begin to formulate "media projects and laws to be submitted to the government and the president for approval aimed at protecting journalists, outlining a framework for professional ethics and laws regarding press freedom."
Abu Bakr added that the aforementioned institutions, "should seek out new prospects for a Palestinian media with a legal framework which serve national Palestinian freedom and independence as well democracy." At present, he said, the Palestinian media is limited to state media and partisan media, and therefore "the role of independent media is not influential .in Palestine. We have three main Palestinian newspapers: Al Quds, Al Hayat al Jadida and Al Ayyam, and those newspapers have the problem of self-censorship imposed on them, thus preventing the expansion of media pluralism and freedom of expression in these institutions."
The journalists' union deputy chairman then gave Gaza as an example where, he said, "there is a partisan media controlled by Hamas which has prevented the distribution of Palestinian newspapers since the coup in Gaza. Hamas has played a major role in the deterioration of press freedom by imposing partisan views on these institutions in Palestine."
Although there are more than 66 radio stations and television channels in the West Bank and 17 in Gaza, Abu Bakr complained that their raison-d'etre was purely to serve "commercial objectives rather than playing a role in the consolidating the media."
Abu Bakr cautioned that there are what he described as " huge political disputes in Palestine which influence media freedom." Moreover, he blamed Israel for imposing on media institutions adding that the private sector was unable to reform and shape an independent media against the background of the long-running Hamas-Fatah disputes. However, Abu Bakr emphasised that his journalists' syndicate would do its utmost to exerts its utmost to draw-up revised media laws which would be submitted to the government and the president for approval, which he hopes will "protect the journalists, inform them of their professional ethics and press freedom laws." He also confirmed that they would be organising a series of workshops and seminars to be held across the country.
In the next phase of Palestinian journalism, Abu Bakr is hopeful that the role of the Palestinian media "will be prominent and influential throughout the entire social, economic and political sectors. We will do our best for the media to become the fourth authority which will monitor the performance of the judicial, legislative and executive authorities."
In a final word of caution, Nasser Abu Bakr warned that the absence of regulation of press freedom together with more than one million people who use social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, a number of journalists are resorting to the internet to freely disseminate their views which he said was "useful and important to a point, yet irresponsible use leads to harsh responses from the government and the executive authority which creates an impression of the suppression of press freedom in Palestine. A series of workshops, involving government, legislative and society institutions, is needed to examine this situation and to developed regulations to be imposed as there is no internet control in Palestine. Internet-control limits the point of view of the user and maintains the ethics and customs of Palestinian society."