If I were to describe Saudi newspapers, I would say that they are government institutions allowed to sell advertising to cover their operating costs in addition to government subsidies. Every institution of these has a gatekeeper called the editor-in-chief who censors what he deems inappropriate and allows the rest, his standards and tools to decide what is allowed and disallowed are the instructions he directly receives from the Minister who sits the top of the ministry to which all local newspapers are connected, namely the Ministry of Information and Culture. Occasionally, the Ministry of Interior would also get involved.
In the one hand, the gatekeeper —I mean the editor-in-chief— is bound by the invisible and powerful official restrictions. In the other hand, he tries to sneak in some articles that reflect reality and truth and seek reform in response to a public opinion that no longer has the stomach to digest fatty meals, a public opinion unable to accept nonsense and unable to turn a blind eye to the light of the day. I don’t know if I should feel sorry for him or marvel at his situation, as I have never heard of an editor-in-chief who declined the job except with conditions. I guess those appointed to this job are people who want it, just like the ministers in our government.
Saudi media is generally self-censored. This is evident in the issues they choose to report and these they choose to ignore. This is understandable. What I don’t understand is their obsession with some issues even when there is nothing to suggest that such issues are actually on the table.
Take, for example, the issue of Saudi female flight attendants. We all know that *there are no Saudi female flight attendants* working on the any airlines in the country. Yet, for reasons beyond me, every time Saudi aviation officials meet the local press, they are asked the same question: Will Saudi women work as flight attendants? Every time, without fail, those officials would deny categorically that they don’t have any plans to start hiring Saudi women as flight attendants.
When I pointed that out on Twitter, my friend Hanan al-Shargi quipped:
@ahmed because all the land jobs in engineering medical legal & private sector jobs reached their capacity. So eager to fill sky positions.
— حنان الشرقي (@EntropyMax)