‘We don’t leak stories’ say U.S., UK Mideast spokespeople

Joshua Baker and Rosemary Davis address the Arabiya News Global Discussion in Dubai

Paul Crompton
Paul Crompton - Al Arabiya News, Dubai
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Middle East spokespeople for the U.S. and UK governments downplayed perceptions that their jobs involve leaking stories to the media, an Al Arabiya News panel heard on Saturday.

“Leaking stories is not part of my job. Obviously we use all the tools that are available to us to get our stories out,” said Rosemary Davis, regional spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the panel discussion.

In addition to working very closely with certain [news] outlets, engaging more directly with the Arab “ordinary man in the street” was seen as increasingly important by her government’s department, she added.

Joshua Baker, the U.S. Department of State’s regional Arabic-language spokesman, also said his role was not about leaking stories to the media, saying it was more about explaining various talking points to an Arab audience.

“It’s not leaks that I think gets our job done or gets our message across. It’s the ability to network, to be able to make those difficult phone calls, and receive phone calls from certain people at certain times,” said the spokesman.

Both spokespeople were participating in a panel discussion entitled ‘What does it take to be a regional spokesperson’ at the Al Arabiya News Global Discussion.

The event was held to mark the relaunch of the Al Arabiya News website, including a new subtitling service that allows English-speaking audiences to follow Arabic news bulletins and programs broadcast by its parent TV channel.

The other panel discussions included “Political lobbying: How can Arabs be more effective?” and “Lost in translation: Does the West really understand the Middle East?”

Video below: Mideast spokespeople from U.S., UK address Al Arabiya panel

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