Arab journalists’ conditions improving: FAJ annual report
Journalists and photojournalists demonstrate in front of the journalist's syndicate - AFP/Mahmoud Khaled
By THE CAIRO POST

CAIRO: The Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) said in its annual report released Sunday on the conditions of journalists in the Arab world that recent gains outweigh the effects of authoritarian restrictions.

Its general secretary said in a press conference on Sunday, however, that concerns remain.

“Despite positive developments in the condition of journalists in the Arab world, there are mounting violations against journalism and journalists,” Youm7 reported Hatem Zakaria as saying.

FAJ said in its report that 68.4 percent of press syndicate leaders believe journalists in most Arab countries are able to practice their jobs freely and without restrictions.

The report said 63.1 percent of press syndicate leaders also believed that laws ensuring official information source availability existed in their countries. Of the leaders, 73.7 percent said the methods to obtain licenses for new newspapers or media organization have become easier, and about 84.1 percent agreed that security or governmental bodies do not intervene in newspapers’ policies.

It also said 78.9 percent agreed that newspapers are not being exposed to political censorship, and 68.4 percent said there were no judicial verdicts for repealing or suspending or confiscating newspapers.

A large portion of the press syndicate leaders agreed that legislation that regulates journalistic work is positive and reflects on press freedom in Arab countries, according to the report.

Problems remain however. The report also said that low pay for journalists has placed some under the financial seduction of businessmen or authorities. It said 52.6 percent believe journalists do not receive a living wage.

At the press conference, Zakaria said that social insurance for journalists still needs support, adding that journalists cannot do their jobs well without the income necessary for a good life.

He said the FAJ is seeking to provide financial and economic insurance for journalists in Arab countries.

The report said 47.4 percent of press syndicate leaders admitted that journalists are also facing administrative and professional pressures from editors-in-chief and the board of directors that may impact their ability to express their opinions freely.

Some also face life-threatening situations. The Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists said in its annual report published last week that 13 journalists were killed in Arab countries between 2013 and 2014, and nine media practitioners were kidnapped.   

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