Journalistic dilemmas: cakes, priests and the presidency
In journalism school, there are debates about what a reporter can ethically accept from a source. Gifts and even lunch are usually strictly forbidden, but there are arguments about whether coffee or biscuits can be justified.
But what if your host bakes you a cake?
That’s exactly what happened on the latest episode of the leading LBC interview show, Kalam Ennas (Word of the People). The host Marcel Ghanem (top left) was interviewing Lebanon’s leading priest cardinal Beshara Rai (right) who baked a little something for the cast and production crew:
Not only was it a cake, but a cake with LBC’s name on it:
The pictures above were tweeted by the show to get viewers tuned in ahead of the broadcast. But what could viewers really expect from such an interview?
Why interview the top priest anyway? Is he going to provide answers to the pressing problems the Lebanese people face? The broken roads, the lawlessness on the highways where hundreds are killed every year by reckless accidents? The lack of jobs, electricity, water or affordable telephone bills or internet, to name a few?
I wonder sometimes why the show is called “Word of the People” when almost every one of its guests is an elite political operative, feudal landholder, millionaire businessman or all three in one– which is often the case.
Why is it that such a small group of often meritless individuals or unelected religious leaders have so much power over Lebanese politics? I would venture that a big part of their power/relevance comes from the media, i.e. if these people weren’t on TV every day, would we even care what they had to say? Would they be so ‘important’?
Here is how Kalam Ennas promoted the interview with Rai, on it’s Twitter page:
One of the main reasons for this show was the upcoming presidential election and since “tradition” says the president should be Christian, the church is thought to have an “important” role in determining who this man (it’s never a woman) will be.
But why is that? Why must Lebanon’s president be Christian? Article 12 in the Lebanese constitution says:
“Every Lebanese has the right to hold public office, no preference being made except on merit and competence…”
This question was put to the show by my colleague, journalist Leila Hatoum:
Breaking news, huh? Seriously, were there any tough questions about Lebanon’s ridiculously inefficient, feudalistic and corrupt political system asked during this interview? Unless the marathon broadcast was not meant to inform, just to propagate that autocratic good old boys club with smiles and… cakes?
Again I really don’t have two hours to spare, so if someone does or has seen it, please let me know if I missed something here.