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|Hakim Almasmari, Publisher and Editor in Chief of the Yemen Post:|
“With all my strong respect to our friends and competitors in the English press arena in Yemen, I believe that the Yemen Post gives the reader a clear and simple picture of what happens in the country. The Yemen Post does not have borders or redlines. It is not scared to publish facts that other newspapers run away from. The Post investigates with officials through its interviews instead of clapping for them.”
Arwa Al-Anesi (YEMEN POST STAFF)
Article Date: November 03, 2008
Yemen Post: In the beginning, we would like to ask, who is Hakim Almasmari?
Hakim Almasmari: Before I start, I would like to thank everyone who helped us reach such a great accomplishment. Yemen Post is the only newspaper in the history of English media in Yemen to start punctual weekly without cuts.
Concerning myself, I am originally from Rada’a; however, I was born and raised in Michigan, United States of America. I studied law, information, and business during my university days. I am the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Yemen Post, and I also teach mass communications at the university level here in Yemen.
YP: Over twelve years have passed since the last English newspaper was licensed in Yemen, while hundreds of Arabic newspapers came up during the same time. Then suddenly last year out of nowhere the Yemen Post arose, do you think that the reason why no one tried to open an English newspaper was governmental pressure?
HA: I think that people did not want to risk so much, whether financially, physically, or mentally for a project like opening an English newspaper in a non-English speaking country. While on the other hand, the government tries to limit the number of foreign language newspapers in order to limit outsiders to information they would want to know about Yemen because the information might not always be positive.
YP: How do you evaluate the work of Yemen Post as you celebrate your one-year anniversary?
HA: No one expected the Yemen Post to stay alive for more than one month, and what the post accomplished was a great success. We started strong, even with our limited facilities. Our readership proves that we are one of the strongest newspapers in the country. Our circulation, whether inside the country or outside Yemen in our branches of Saudi Arabia or in the United States shows that we have a mission to accomplish, and will not rest until we prevail.
YP: What makes the Yemen Post different from other English newspapers in Yemen?
HA: With all my strong respect to our friends and competitors in the English press arena in Yemen, I believe that the Yemen Post gives the reader a clear and simple picture of what happens in the country. The Yemen Post does not have borders or redlines. It is not scared to publish facts that other newspapers run away from. The Post investigates with officials through its interviews instead of clapping for them. We praise when good is done and criticize when a wrong takes place. These are some of the numerous points why we are different.
YP: What are the biggest obstacles that the Yemen Post faced during the first year?
HA: This is a good question. I think the biggest obstacle we faced has been the pressure that was put on the newspaper in order to change the transparent and independent way of news writing it follows. However, our slogan has always been “Media for the People”, and we will overcome all obstacles to meet the expectations we and our readers have. Meanwhile, like any project, the first year will always be difficult, but we considered all the precautions before hand to limit the obstacles that might occur in the future.
YP: Months ago, you received threats and your car was damaged. Why do think such actions happened to you and not your colleagues in other English newspapers?
HA: I think that the answer for this question is clear. The more redlines and borders you cross, the more problems you should expect. Democracy does not come cheap.
YP: The Yemen Post criticized the government on numerous occasions; for this can we say that the post is opposition?
HA: The Yemen Post does not lean to governmental or opposition pressure. Three months ago, I also received threats from opposition parties. Each side wants you to give them a better image. However, what we tell them is that if you want a good image of you to be revealed to society show it by actions and not words. We tell them to work for the country and not the party. Work for the interest of all citizens and not personal benefits.
YP: Yemen Post has been recognized as the first and only English newspaper in Yemen that conducts exclusive interviews with high ranking officials and intellectuals every week, what was behind such a strong move?
HA: From my experience in the media field in Yemen, I realized that the hardest thing to reach was facts. The government rarely gives out strong and real facts to the public. So, I thought of other ways to reveal facts to the people, and what way could be better than hearing it from the officials themselves. Other English newspapers started conducted interviews with officials every week as soon as we came up with the idea, but with time, they realized it was too hard to handle so they stopped.
YP: Have you accomplished your goals yet with the Yemen Post?HA: I am just starting. Very soon, Yemen Post will surprise the English media in Yemen with new successes. We have no limits and we promise to grow faster than anyone would expect. Time will prove that the Yemen Post will be Yemen’s elite English newspaper.