Imad El Efrangy Palestinian Media Forum President confirmed to ArabsToday the state of the Palestinian media is suffering due to the lack of both official and local sponsors. And really without these areas covered there is risk of causing divisions when concentrated efforts need to be placed on implementing a of efforts and attempts to find a clear philosophy across the board.
El Efrangy spoke in an exclusive interview to "ArabsToday," touching some of the areas his organization is actively working in for instance we look for ways to make room for all media in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and ways to work freely, securing the release of detained journalist in the Palestinian prisons, as well as best practices in the current media environment for media figures keeping them up to date on ethics.
El Efrangy criticized the Palestinian media for not addressing several issues he feel are as important as politics, like as honor crimes, fraud and administrative corruption comparing it to the Egyptian and Israeli media's role in the reporting on many cases of corruption.
El Efrangy went on to say Palestinian Media must take a good long look at the problems related to issues affecting social societies reality, stressing the need to turn the media into an independent tool away from character defamation, accusatory statements and fabrication of news as political mouth pieces. We must stand out from the state television, we must be for fair and balanced news coverage, never telling our viewers what to think but to present the facts and viewers drawn their own conclusion.
He continued: "The presence of an official media for a political party is not wrong in itself, but this media must be governed by the ethics of the profession". He stressed that media should work on putting an end to the culture of hate. Further suggesting politicians should raise the standards off our media and end its dependency on political parties.
He added: "Palestinian journalist works day and night to deliver a national message most of the time at great risk to deliver the truth.
While acknowledging some successes achieved by the media, Efrangi described the progress as "individual success, which did not go according to a systematic plan, unfortunately the Palestinian Media lacks leadership, official syndicate sponsor as well as government support.
Efrangi added that the worst feature about Palestinian media coverage is its contradictory tone adding: "The situation of the political fraction reflects negative language and performance. At a time when we need a united voice. Yet the main concern of party run media outlets were purely selfish, covering what ever is in their policies best interest."
He stressed Palestinian media needs work to reach the point of perfection, especially with legislative framework for media and funding that supports the advancement of media,"There is no training center for our journalist and future journalist - We want media that is multi-lingual and addresses audiences abroad, We need specialized media".
El Efrangy called for a revival of the journalists association, saying: "A strong association is required to support a professional and national plan, in addition to international and Arab sponsors of Palestinian journalists to help protect them from violations and strikes.
The Associations situation Efrangi says: "No one knows where things stand with regard to the new elections of the union, and now there is conflict between the expired union’s council and head of the union Naim Toubasi who is expired as well. The Council wants to refer corruption and financial charges to the head of the Syndicate and exclude themselves of the charges which is not logical, and if they were right in these charges they should head to the Assembly of the Journalists' Syndicate to charge who was wrong. Efrangi expressed his fear that what is going on now might be for personal animosity.
He added: "Things are standstill, and the current council is not serious about holding elections."
He continued, "In addition, the sharp differences are plaguing the current syndicate council, which out dated and stale, and only exists to hinder any attmpts of organizing elections the thing that represented an obstacle in front of any attempts from any part to work on organizing the elections. This was clearly illustrated by Naim Toubasi Syndicate head after stalling elections on more than one occasion.
The syndicate Council in Gaza and the West bank decided to form a temporary office responsible of preparing for elections, and managing the daily affairs of the syndicate in collaboration with members of the Council until the elections are held, as soon as possible, as has been said.
In the face of those conflicts dominated by personal issues held between the syndicate council and head of the syndicate, the International Federation for Journalists, told Palestinian journalists, who are preparing to elect a new leader of the union for the first time since nearly ten years, to unite and agree on a fair and transparent electoral process including all journalists.
At the same time the Union condemned allegations about financial irregularities, which depend on what he described as "rumors."
Aidan White, who launched the Ethical Journalism Initiative recently said: "Journalists must commit themselves to the facts, there are rumors of bad financial credit where astronomical numbers are mentioned, and journalists should not be involved in distorting names of personalities and stick to facts that they can verify."
He said that he was looking for a safe landing for Toubassi out of the syndicate crisis, after he showed his willingness not to run the coming elections of the next session of the union.
White stressed the importance of exiting from the crisis which is almost collapsing the Press Syndicate, and restoring the unity of the Palestinian press and media to take its role and enhance its position at the Arab, regional and international levels, and the need to respect the conditions of membership in accordance with the law.
White’s talk came after investigations were held with Naim Toubassi to investigate the practices and finances of the journalists syndicate.
But the head of media forum believes that the International Federation of Journalists recognizes only head of Journalists syndicate Naim Toubasi and wants from the council to finish things quietly without disturbances as the federation doesn’t want any Islamic party to be involved in the syndicate, but he does not realize that Islamic journalists play an essential part in the equation and no elections can be held without them.
Efrangi stressed that the only way to achieve this is thru elections and united efforts from all the branches of journalism to the syndicate council with all possible means so that he can’t find a choice but to listen to the journalists demands and set a date for elections.
He believed that this step must be preceded by a number of measures including forming a committee from various area of the press including social and new media for a variety of membership and another one to supervise the elections, because there is no trust between the Council and journalists.
According to Efrangi, any journalistic imitative won’t succeed unless there is a real sincere will on the part of the Board of Directors he said "the issue need constant follow-up and discussions to keep the issue alive."
He carried on, "a dialogue is required across the whole media landscape without bias, and to work with the intention of finding a solutions and developing criteria to determine who a journalist is, and screening current members, and by holding elections voters can elect new council.
He pointed out that as long as the problem of membership is not resolved, the problems will persist and there won’t be any changes in the elections process.
Efrangy went on to say that there are dozens of journalists that deserve membership to the union after universities and as well as more seasoned professional, while there are some old members who no longer deserve membership.