SKeyes “spills out” a semi report

People at the Center for Defending Media and Cultural Freedoms (SKeyes) were surprised at the small attendance of their 2008 launch for what the org called a "first of its kind" media report. Al-Akhbar journalist Sabah Ayoub takes a look at why journalists skipped out on the event.
SKeyes' banner. © SKeyes

BEIRUT, February 19, 2009 (AL-AKHBAR) -  Media-rights organization SKeyes released what they call a "first of its kind" annual report on Tuesday, but instead of a media stampede there was media silence.

Members of SKeyes, the foundation for the defense of cultural and media freedom in the Arab Mashreq (part of the Samir Kassir foundation), said they were expecting more media for their launch of the "2008 annual report for media and culture freedoms.”

But journalists simply didn’t show up. 

The initiative is headed by Khaled Sbeih, research manager, Amro Saad, research coordinator and Ahmad Moghrabi, web manager of the website.

Lacking context and more

This lackluster response left critics wondering about the relevance of tackling issues of media freedoms in Lebanon. Or, since SKeyes sent the report to journalists a few days before the conference, some are speculating the report's content was the reason for the media "no-show." 

As for the organizers and those who wrote the report, they told the press the lack of media attention was "completely political."

The report, however, which looked at press freedom issues in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan,  was itself politically-oriented, especially in its attempt to"observe" media freedoms in Lebanon.

What was not in the eight-page report was any credible statistical data.  It also failed to provide a context for the political and security situations of each country.

Doomed without journalists

When introducing media institutions in these countries, the report did not mentioned crucial information, such as the outlet's publishers, or its political stance.

As well, the report assumed readers had an understanding of the complex on-the-ground situations in each country surveyed.

SKeyes is defending criticism by calling the report a “summary” of “the main events.”

Writers said that information about the adopted style, the sources and the field work, would be more clear after a larger book project is published.

Attendees and critics also questioned whether SKeyes would be able to offer journalists protection from the abuses they are reporting on.

A SKeyes spokesperson responded, “The center can’t do anything without the cooperation of the journalists.”