Salah Negm, the director of news for Al Jazeera English, is grateful that an internal memo outlining style guidelines was leaked this week. In fact, he sent a memo to staff calling the leak a “blessing” and thanking whoever leaked the information.
Well, today’s memo was also obtained by TVNewser.
After being criticized for telling reporters, anchors and editors to not use the terms “Terrorist,” “Militant” and “Islamist” in news stories, Negm, who is based at Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, writes, “I would like to state that our style guide and our editorial discussion is no secret, so these so called ‘leaks’ don’t in my opinion prove anything sinister within the newsrooms of Al Jazeera Media Network.”
“So please, Mr or Ms Unknown leaker, continue to leak this… and more :)”
The entire memo is below:
From: Salah Negm
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 4:43 PM
Subject: To BE LEAKED
Another day and another leak from within, showing our vibrant editorial discussions inside the Al Jazeera newsroom. This latest leak follows a previous leaked email discussion about Charlie Hebdo and how our diverse newsroom of fifty nationalities were discussing on how best to take the story forward.
I would like to state that our style guide and our editorial discussion is no secret, so these so called ‘leaks’ don’t in my opinion prove anything sinister within the newsrooms of Al Jazeera Media Network . We thrive in broadcasting to the world in its diversity, our editorial discussions is a proof that we aspire to be as objective as possible in our coverage, language and tone.
I as Director of News advocate that we never leave a point of view out, while we also reach any editorial decisions which are editorially correct and not necessarily politically correct. I of course believe that to be really objective we will not satisfy all, specially people who are parties in a conflict or hold die hard ideologically driven views partisans who are also our audiences, but a small part of the 220 million households we reach around the world.
Others may interpret these leaks as an attempt from one of the above mentioned to spread the false notion that we as Al Jazeera are creating fear or self-censoring amongst our journalists and journalism or try by these leaks to intimidate and create the self-censorship or fear amongst them . However I personally find these leaks a blessing as people can see for themselves the logic and explanation behind our decisions of our commitment for objectivity and the aspiration to convey news without bias.
Whoever forwarded these emails on to their friends, I personally thank you for offering a huge service to our channel. I have always been in favour of being transparent and open we have nothing to hide.
In the future we will put all our style guide and editorial guidelines online for public consumption, because there is nothing that we hide and nothing that we are afraid of. I hold dear that our newsrooms are transparent, whether on why we use certain terms on our platforms and why we give certain stories certain treatments, to the extent I even have entertained the idea of putting our editorial meetings live on air for all to see ,don’t take this as a promise. On a second thought as it might be informative , it also can be not of so much interest for everyone to see
Attemps have been made to distort and intimidate media organisations in some countries have been successful and it sadly resulted in the real self-censorship and polarisation of journalism and journalists, it is as I call it a new form of subtle Macarthyism of our age, over the past twenty four hours I have seen various news outlets who it seems have their own agendas to discredit Al Jazeera with their over analysing of a simple email which laid down the facts. I advocate our newsroom and editorial staff continue to deal with pure facts, balanced coverage and clear terminology and of course please raise your voice with queries or concerns in our vibrant and open discussions every day in our editorial meetings, as after all Al Jazeera stands for the opinion and the other opinion.
So please, Mr or Ms Unknown leaker, continue to leak this…. and more 🙂
Director of News
Al Jazeera English