Former Editor-in-Chief of Okaz newspaper Hashim Abdu Hashim with Group Editor-in-Chief of Abouther.com, Sayidaty and Al Rajol, Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi
In an exclusive interview with Editor-in-Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, former Editor-in-Chief of Okaz newspaper Hashim Abdu Hashim has revealed his reasons for exiting from the newspaper.
He explained that conflict and disagreements are what led him to make a personal decision to quit for the first time. He also disclosed that the previous media minister Iyad Madani was not behind him pulling out from Okaz because he had no authority to do so as minister.
Hashim said that the press is in “a state of amazement,” as news organizations have completely surrendered to social networking sites. “They are not looking for new sources and ways for diversifying sources of income,” he said during the interview. He added that press organizations need to adapt to the changing landscape.
Further in the interview, Hashim spoke about important phases in his career; some which involved Saudi King Salman. "I have had several instances in my career where King Salman was involved,” he said. “One of it was when I was stopped from work for 24 hours 15 years ago because of an opinion piece I published and King Salman interceded to get me back to work.”
Read the full interview in Al Rajol's newest issue
"Whenever I’m faced with a problem or an issue, I go to him directly,” said Hashim about King Salman. “I always find his doors open. He is one who constantly follows-up and reads the newspapers.” He pointed out that he has also had instances where King Salman has guided him to things that were very important and helped him expand his perception of his work.
Speaking of his editorial policy, Hashim said his focus were mainly on the aspect of modernity, open society and paid vivid attention to controversial issues such as women's rights and human rights. During the conversation, Hashim also spoke about his experiences with media ministers. He clarified that former media minister Mohammed Abdo Yamani, was a man with a broad mind while Ali Al-Shaer, who was the successor of Yamani, too was a wise man who respected professionalism and honesty.
He went on to mention that Fuad Al-Farsi was a pleasant and open-minded man. Speaking of former media minister Abdul Aziz Khoja, he added that the media needs a personality, not necessarily tough, but capable of confrontation.
During the interview, Hashim denied that Minister Iyad Madani had a role behind him leaving Okaz for the first time. "As a minister he cannot impose my dismissal,” he said. “This decision is taken by the Board of Directors, while he can only influence it from his position.”
He further discussed the standpoint of Saudi newspaper editors, describing the late Turki Al-Sudairi who was former Editor-in-Chief of Al-Riyadh newspaper, as a "cultured professional who treated everyone who worked under him as a son." Hashim said that the freedom of the Saudi press has developed for the better over the years, stating that "what was restricted in the past is now being discussed without any limit."
The former Editor-in-Chief of Okaz is currently working on three books among which the first is set to publish soon. "I am now in the process of enjoying and reaping,” he said. “I am happy that my children have achieved the success that I have planned since the beginning, and are now in positions of responsibility.”
Bringing the interview to a close, when asked about his future goals, he explained that he does not have any commercial ambitions after his retirement.