Manama: Qatar's television and radio performance during and after the tragedy that struck the nation on Monday has been highly criticized by bloggers, local media have reported.
A blaze at a nursery within the Villagio mall caused the death of 19 people, including 13 children. Four teachers who were trapped along the children in the nursery and two firefighters were also killed in the tragedy.
As news spread about the tragedy at Doha's Villagio mall, social networks sprang to life with pictures, videos and updates gathered at the site or through witnesses and relatives. The activity highlighted the significance of citizen journalism and social networks in conveying information in real time was highlighted in Qatar as the nation lived one of the most tragic days in its modern history.
However, while microblogs were highly active, Qatar's national television and radio channels did not interrupt their regular programmes or referred to the fire raging at the modern mall despite high expectations from people seeking answers to their questions about what was happening, local Arabic daily Al Sharq reported.
"Bloggers were highly critical of the local radio and television stations. They kept on broadcasting their regular programmes that included songs and light issues despite the death of 19 people," the daily said. "The bloggers were particularly upset with the national television that failed to cover the tragedy and did not show up at the site during the critical moments lived by all people."
While social networks were looking for facts and information, the television did not live up to its status and failed to lead the adequate coverage, the daily said.
"People were bombarded with rumours and allegations mainly on websites and the television and radio should have been there to rectify them, particularly that they are the official source of information about what is happening in the country," the daily said.
"Radio stations that did not even cancel their entertainment programes or suspend the diffusion of songs while the country was struck by the tragedy should understand that they behaved as if the blaze was not in Qatar or as if they did not broadcast from Qatar."
Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al Sulaiti, the editor-in-chief of local Arabic daily Al Watan, said that Qatar's audio and visual media had failed to reassure the people.
"They should have been there to cover what was happening and providing an adequate coverage to reassure the people," he said. "They failed to do their job properly and were not there when the tragedy struck. The print media appears the next day, but the audio-visual media should have been there. I was at the site for about two hours and did not see a single correspondent or representative from the audio-visual media," he said in remarks published by his daily.