In an unusually frank editorial on March 6, the newspaper questioned why
Qatar's media reported on unrest throughout the Arab world with the
exception of their own country. The editorial also wondered about the
silence of Qatar's A-Jazeera satellite channel on domestic issues.
"A-Jazeera is also accused of practicing double standards," the
editorial said. "A Web site which sometime ago talked of some appointment in
the channel's administration had to be closed down and its owners were taken
The editorial, published amid efforts to pass a press freedom bill, said
the Internet was replacing the conventional media as a forum for political
debate. Peninsula said newspapers and the electronic media have been
questioned over their reluctance to report on official corruption.
"The problem with local journalists, insiders would tell, is that they
suffer due to a severe lack of information flow," Peninsula said.
"Government officials are hard to access and open sources virtually
non-existent, so scribes are often forced to base their stories on
half-truths in the absence of details."
The editorial said that Kuwait has been the only country in the Gulf
where the local media reported on corruption. In contrast, Qatar's media
contained little such coverage, even though such cases could be heard in the
"The culture in the country [Qatar] is such that people tend to take
as personal even if it is objective and directed at institutions and
procedures," the editorial said. "Then, there is the conflict of interest.
The owner of a business, including the media, or the head of an institution
is obviously an influential person so the entity cannot be criticized."
Journalists have also demanded freedom of expression in other GCC
states. In the United Arab Emirates, the state-owned National Media Council
has come under criticism for failure to guarantee freedom of the press.
Peninsula said government institutions and companies in Qatar have
become sacred cows and immune to criticism. The editorial quoted an
unidentified senior journalist as saying that the only way this could change
was through guarantees from leaders of the emirate.
"What is needed is a change in the mindset," the journalist said. "When
you begin accepting healthy criticism as a way of progress and evolution,
the problem of media freedom would be resolved automatically."