Dr. Mostefa Souag, the Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network, delivered a keynote speech at the gala dinner held at the end of first day of the 12th Al Jazeera Forum, in which he said that the main function of professional media is to follow events and relay them to the audiences impartially and without distortion, falsification, exaggeration or failure.
Because the scene varies according to perspective or point of view, said Souag, professional media should present it from different angles or viewpoints, or be impartial in determining a consistent point of view for the audience. He added that professional media, contrary to what some claim, is not a maker of events; rather, "it highlights them until they gain momentum with the power of coverage and become among the priorities of the public opinion."
Souag explained that sometimes the media contribute to the creation of events through fabrication. Examples of this are too numerous to count and too obvious for any clarification, including the hacking of the Qatar News Agency website, which was later used as a pretext for the blockade on Qatar. “This a clear example that fake media is the maker of crises”, he proclaimed.
"Events in the Arab region, especially the Gulf, have revealed the major role that the media played in the Gulf crisis," he said, adding that the blockading countries are highly disturbed by Al Jazeera because it refuses to fabricate or counterfeit news.
Souag stressed that the Gulf crisis has revealed the gravity of the media’s role in fabricating facts, statements and news, as the blockading countries used the media with the aim of creating a political status-quo. In other words, the blockading countries used the media to produce ideologies that obscure and distort reality across various platforms in a way that serves their political agendas.
"The false reality created by false news has resulted in an arsenal of propaganda and media warfare that violated all traditions and values of professional practice. Such propaganda created new political tensions and aimed to control public opinion, thus contributing to the exacerbation of political crises. The media propagandists, which are now all over the world, have lost their credibility, especially in the Arab region.”
On the role of Al Jazeera in covering the Gulf crisis, Souag said that although Al Jazeera is targeted incessantly, it has established an unprecedented media professionalism. He added that the call to "shut down Al Jazeera" targets its enlightening and pioneering role in communicating the facts to the Arab peoples and deepening their knowledge of reality and developments.
"Since its launch, this is what Al Jazeera has done at different points in the history of the region, and this is what it will keep doing in the future," Souag said. "On the other hand, we have witnessed the absurdity of the blockading countries’ media and how it resorted to fabrication, false propaganda and even slander."
The Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network highlighted the importance of media freedom as well as independence from any hegemony be it political, commercial or otherwise. Newa falsification, which may lead to the falsification of history, usually occurs because of tyranny and the suppression of independent professional media.
Souag concluded by saying that it is difficult, if not impossible, to practice professional media without providing a safe environment in which media personnel feel safe. "I call on all my colleagues, fans and supporters to redouble their efforts to protect journalists from the barbarity of autocrats and expand freedom, as there is no media without freedom, and no freedom without security."