So fellow blogger (and visiting professor) Scott Waalkes gave a lecture on Tuesday night titled "The Political Economy of US Trade Policy: Lessons for Bahrain". The GDN covered the lecture in their business pages, but as Scott laments in his "semi-official journal" (there's no permalink to the post, so find the one dated Feb 23, 2005), the GDN didn't fully convey what his lecture was about. He tells about his discussion with the GDN reporter:
"Can you put this in simple language for the common man?" the reporter asked.
"Bahrain should build institutions to keep self-interests in check," I said.
"Can you explain what that means for Bahrain? What kind of institutions?" said the reporter.
"OK, two main things. First, representative government, where many different interests could be represented."
"Oh, I don't think we can say that in the newspaper."
Of course, the GDN report didn't mention anything about representative government, but it did retain the very ambiguous statement: "Bahrain... should develop institutions that can limit the damage of self-interests". The report also claims that Scott said "Businesses should therefore shift from being inefficient to efficient"; a completely meaningless statement that was probably put in to make up for all the stuff that they weren't allowed to print. You can read the full GDN article here.
I know that we bloggers are always complaining about the GDN and the local press in general. And I know that some of you readers know much more than I do about editorial self-censorship in the local press. I understand that not only do they have the government breathing down their necks, but also the general public, as has been made apparent by the recent Samira Rajab controversy.
But something's got to give. The Press is exactly one of those "institutions to keep self-interests in check". And until it doesn't allow itself to check self-interests with more honesty, we aren't going to get anywhere.