One story, two different takes – How Saudi Gazette is reporting and Arab News isn’t

One story has dominated Saudi media for the past week, the tragedy of 13-year-old Reham Al-Hakami who contracted HIV through a mistaken blood transfusion at a government-run hospital in the south of the country (I’ll cover this story and the outcry it has caused in a blog-post soon).

However, reading the English-language press today is a confusing affair. If you pick up Saudi Gazette, you’ll find not one piece but two on Reham. The first is a news item about another Saudi woman who has contracted AIDS. The second is a scathing opinion piece from the paper’s Arabic-language sister publication Okaz written by columnist Khaled Al-Sulaiman.

The column, which was first published in the Arabic-language daily Okaz, was rerun in Saudi Gazette

The column, which was first published in the Arabic-language daily Okaz, was rerun in Saudi Gazette

And then there’s the main piece on the Ministry of Health in Arab News, which focuses on a letter from the King thanking “the Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and for obtaining certificates from the US-based Joint Commission International (JCI) for 15 medical facilities and accreditation from the Central Board of Accreditation for Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI) for 50 hospitals over the past 12 months.”

And here is the main piece on the Ministry of Health from Arab News. There's a second article covered, which is also not related to Reham

And here is the main piece on the Ministry of Health from Arab News. There’s a second article covered, which is also not related to Reham

I know which newspaper I’d rather be reading today. The team at Saudi Gazette and its owners should be praised for their editorial integrity and coverage of the issue.

Incidentally, Arab News is known as the Green Truth owing to the colour of its front and back pages and the quality of its copy. While the colour print hasn’t changed there’s been a noticeable shift in editorial since Khaled Al Maeena left at the end of 2011. During those two years Arab News has had two editors-in-chief (Abdulwahab Al-Faiz and now Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi) and has lost staff to Saudi Gazette. I for one hope that Arab News receives the investment and political backing from its owner SRMG that the newspaper needs to compete editorially with Saudi Gazette.

4 thoughts on “One story, two different takes – How Saudi Gazette is reporting and Arab News isn’t

  1. Arab News did cover the story of Reham (and still does) in so many different issues. Comparing the same story in 2 different news resources of only one day, doesn’t make sense. The various stories published on Reham’s story published on Arab News do not always support AlRabeea. I read through Arab News that the story of Reham was discussed in Shoura council and the members were openly criticizing the ministry of health. Thanks for your post. I’ll keep visiting.

    • Thanks Hayat for your comment. What I was referring to was a specific point in time; your point is spot on and completely valid. However, generally speaking I feel that Saudi Gazette has improved significantly under its new leadership while Arab News isn’t as strong as it once was, which is a shame. And do let me know more of your views on the Saudi pieces.

  2. I’m a Saudi journalist in Arab News and worked with Khalid Maeena and now Muhammad Harthi. It may be biased to say there’s more renovation of ideas now than before as I am part of the panel. Arab News is moving to be more Saudized, in order to increase the target audience. I wish Saudi Gazzette all the best under Khalid Maeena authority. I welcome any views and ready to get your concerns delivered if you want.

    • I’m a big fan of both localization and of local talent – many of the best reporters at Arab News were Saudis and still are Saudis. However, I do feel a different tone was taken under AlFaiz, which was to drive revenues. While I welcome a number of the initiatives taken by the paper under AlHarthi (especially on the digital side) I feel that more can be done editorially. I hope to read more of your stories in the paper Hayat.

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