Information Minister Imad Sarah has said that if the number of returns of official newspapers increases, the ministry will have to stop some print newspapers and just publish news online, or keep one newspaper in the market while publishing the rest electronically. He said that the subject is under study and that there would be a meeting about it held today.
The Ministry of Information issued a decision to suspend work in affiliated entities where suspending work does not constitute an obstacle due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Sarah told Al-Watan that the aim of the decision was to, as much as possible, reduce the number of employees at the institutions affiliated with the ministry in a way that does not affect their work, as with other state institutions, in order to deal with the coronavirus. For example, there are directorates where if the number of employees is reduced it would not affect the ministry’s work, including the Directorates of Research or Studies, in addition to the Directorates of Planning and Administrative Development and other directorates of an administrative nature.
Sarah added that as for media personnel, they are like ambulance drivers or firefighters—we cannot give them up. He said that the media was currently providing awareness and thus they needed to be kept present, whether in newspapers or on TV, given that the media work is now supporting all ministries and educating all citizens.
Sarah said that the awareness campaign was continuing without over-dramatization, and was transmitting the facts objectively. He added that they would work to bring a large amount of knowledge and awareness, putting the public interest above all considerations, given that a media that is unable to address its audience is sterile—and they will not be like that, but rather would be at the forefront of keeping the public informed in the interest of the country.
Sarah added that we now need a unified media discourse in order to keep it comprehensive, and not a separate discourse, pointing to the easing of public programs as much as possible, given that these programs cannot currently be broadcast because the trend is now to warn against gatherings.
Sarah pointed out that some international channels broadcast repeat programs rather than live broadcasts, while Syrian TV has so far stayed up to date, new and publishing news.
Sarah said that a meeting was held with private media several days ago in order to unify the media discourse, adding that in this meeting, we said that the aim was to serve the homeland. When the homeland is exposed to danger, everyone must gather around it, and there is no longer a space for journalistic exclusive—the concern is the safety and protection of citizens.
With regards to social media, Sarah asked for it to join hands with the media, whether public or private, adding that the subject of the coronavirus was not a joke and that social media pages were affiliated with electronic crime and therefore fell under the Ministry of Interior. What was under the Ministry of Information was the media, and therefore not everyone who writes on these pages is a media figure accountable to the Cyber Crime Law.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.