Friday, October 31, 2008

readers suggestions

OK readers - what do you think the press in Oman should be investigating and talking about?

What issues do you suggest could be starting points for the soon 'international standard trained' Omani journalists?

How do you think the current global situation might impact Oman, and what can be best done about it?


  1. On the top of my head on a local level - corruption, the evilness of wasta (favoritism), local crime, BAD BAD driving and road rage. Will come back with more if i think of any. .

  2. ref yr first question:
    It's not what I think press in Oman should be "investigating", it's how / what the press should be reporting in order to inform and educate the public.

    First: Accurate information and detail about the story at hand: e.g. water shortages in Greater Muscat: Where were the shortages felt? How long a time period were these areas without water? Why were there shortages? (i.e. unforseen problems with equipment; scheduled shut down for maintenance) Can we expect more water shortages in the future so we can all prepare better? Where does Muscat water come from? Etc., etc. I'm sure you, UD, get the picture.

    2. MAPS -- we all need to see maps to illustrate the 'where' of ALL articles. (e.g. which are the areas of Muscat without water?) Why cannot maps be published in the press here? This seems a relic rule from ... um ... the Dark Ages or perhaps even
    1940's Europe.

    3. What's not needed is celebrity focus and poking into celeb's private business.

    Thanks for asking. here's hoping that the organizers of the training read yr blog, UD.

  3. Maps - there's a very good web site from the municipality showing every street in the Capital area - if it's on the web, why not in the paper?
    For intrepid journalists:
    Why does the Sultan Centre sell Coleman camping stoves, but not the gas to go with them? Estimate how long it will be before Carrefour wipes out the Sultan Centre.
    Explain why laser pointers get impounded by customs at Seeb airport.
    Estimate how much the State General Reserve Fund has lost in the last year.
    Determine if the average reader really wants to know that HM sent a cable of congratulations on country XX national day
    Tell where HM went on his summer holidays
    Those are the easy ones, probably not appropriate to post the difficult ones.

  4. Maps? In country? Ask the National Survey Authority. In my day, nobody could publish even a sketch map of Oman without its permission. Google Earth can publish its imagery of Oman and mapping overlay without fear of comeback, because it's not beholden to the NSA. Seriously. I believe that you're not even allowed to export small-scale maps. Tourist maps are an exception.

    Occasionally, I get enquiries about where to obtain geological maps of Oman and I have to concede, regretfully, that I really don't know. The Geological Survey which is part of MoCI, did try to advertise maps online (you can find a relict page if you look on Google) but the MoCI website doesn't function in English.

  5. How about genuine local news - births, obituaries (I heard fourth-hand today that an acquaintance died last week, quite suddenly - in the U.S. I would at least have been able to read about it), crime petty and less so, fires, you name it? Throw in accurate accident reporting, and you might actually get a sense of what it's like to live here...

  6. perhaps the budding journalists could read this for an overview to the topic

  7. What's the deal with publishing maps?

    I remember in high school the Ministry of Information gave us a hard time about our school yearbook because it had a map of Oman and they gave us permission to publish that book like... after 5 months or so, just because the book had Oman's map and they had to check the accuracy of that map.

    It took almost half a year to get a permission from the MOI just because the yearbook had a map of Oman! Interesting....

    Back to the main topic.

    I think Omani newspapers, especially English ones, need to become more original and stop just copy/pasting everything from Oman News Agency. They should create their own stories and tell stories in their own way, rather than just copying the statements they get from Oman News Agency. The case is almost the same with Arabic newspapers, but at least in Arabic newspapers we see some stories that are exclusive to the newspaper, and created originally by the brilliant journalists of the newspaper or their columnists.

  8. To start with accident and crime reporting by giving full identity of people involved will be a good idea. Second proper coverage of litigation and court decisions will bring lots of info transparency

  9. The tender announcements are always a good source of information - for example, this week's invitation to supply piping for water on Jebel Akhdar to support "major tourist development". What development is planned?
    Perhaps our budding investigative journalists could explain why the new Opera House is designed by WATG - their previous experience is casinos, hotels, conference centres, marinas, retail, etc. Maybe the building is going to be dual-use???

  10. The maps scenario is indicative of the overwhelming bureaucratic weight in the country. If rules are there, civil servants follow them because (1) it avoids having to trust to judgment and (2) it saves thinking. The inertia must come from the top stratum, because presumably that's where rules are made. (BTW, I bet there isn't one country on the planet where this isn't the case - to some degree or other).
    I can see why local journalists would avoid contentious issues - it's nice and comfortable living in Oman, and they don't want to lose their jobs. For that matter, why do bloggers in country avoid admitting their identity?
    Essentially, it comes down to a willingness to change the political culture at ALL levels. A not insignificant part of such a move requires broader awareness of the way society, economy and government functions and higher levels of education leading to more open attitudes. It's far too easy to whine about what appears to be wrong rather than roll your sleeves up and do something about it. It happens so often that when you start trying to do something, that you find something else goes out of kilter somewhere else. More could be written about this, but I don't have the time.
    Wasn't there a recent announcement about job training for journalists?

  11. One of my schoolteachers once told us that the only two things worth debating about are religion and politics, but unfortunately they're both taboo in Oman, especially Omani journalism. From what I've been reading, traffic and road saftey should be a priority as well.


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