Former Plain Dealer Managing Editor Tom O’Hara remembers his time at Abu Dhabi English-language paper The National

When the newspaper launched in 2008, its goal was “to establish an institution on par with some of the greatest newspapers in the world,” according to its Web site. Well, that hasn’t happened. The mission statement should say: Don’t offend the government or anyone who has a link to it. …

[Deputy Editor Bob] Cowan said he wouldn’t put a story about a power struggle in Jordan on the front page because the paper’s new general manager was Jordanian and he had worked for the royal family there. Cowan was sure something would be wrong in the story and he didn’t want to irritate the new GM. …

Our stringer in Australia wrote a story about the Indonesian government trying to legislate the length of women’s skirts as part of a crackdown on porn.

The reporter put “miniskirt” in the subject line of her e-mails. She kept insisting she had sent the story but no one could find it. Eventually we discovered that someone had programmed the system to block any e-mails with “miniskirt” in the subject field.

Tom O'Hara in American Journalism review

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  • John Cassidy

    The New York Times of the Middle East is what I was told The National was going to be. The article in the American Journalism Review is hilarious, and shows Hassan Fattah as he really is. If you spoke to other National journalists the responses would easily fill a large book with more examples of the lack of ethics and professionalism on display at the paper.