I can vaguely recall reading newspapers pre-2002. There were two, Akhbar Alkhaleej and Al-Ayam. Both lacked any sort of guts, both were in deeeeep denial of reality, and both did the best job possible to remain un-interesting and irrelevant to anything going on in Bahrain.
Nowdays the government claims we have "free press." Of course any person who has mastered the art of reading can tell you this is a total lie. Leaving our retarded "press law of 2002" aside, almost all of our writers are ruled by an unwritten law of sacred cows and self-control for understandabe reasons. Not to mention, of course, those known writers to be bought by the government (prices vary - occasional sales and promotions apply). That in mind, here is the LuLu review of Bahrain newspapers:
1. Akhbar Al-Khaleej
I can't stop reading this newspaper. It's border-line addiction, even as I disagree with almost everything in it. It walks the government line and will go to any length to undermine the opposition and convince us that everything in this country is all good and dandy. It selectively also omits news that it doesn't like (no need to distress the people!) The editor is shameless, basically. He makes the most insane comments ("let's not politicize elections") with a straight face! But if we get passed the editor and the news pages and the bias, the paper has a good variety of columnists. There is Sayed Zahra, who is a Palestinian I think and is still living in the pan-Arab-greatness world. There is Ali Saleh from Wa'ad whose anti-corruption columns are definitely the most courageous in the newspapers - and other nationalists like Radi Al-Samak and Abdulla Khalifa. There is also some nut called Al-Mahmeed who gets his attention by attacking the opposition and sucking up to the PM. He once called for a campaign to give flowers to security servicemen and policemen "controlling" demonstrations (not sure who in the world does that?)
Now I have to salute Al-Jamri for establishing a long-due independent newspaper in Bahrain that is not directly or indirectly bought by the government. I love the diversity it created and I love that it raised the ceiling of expectations. I think the only reason Akhbar Al-Khaleej and Al-Ayam even showed meager signs of openness and diversity is due to Al-Wasat's competition. Anyway, on news, it is entertaining to read Al-Wasat after Akhbar Al-khaleej and see the many angels of a story. On columns, I think it has a brilliant selection of writers who are diverse in orientation (Shia, Sunni, Islamist, nationalist) but are all willing to critique the government, the existing establishments, and the pro-government forces here. Personally, I think Bahrain really needs this newspaper as a balancing act - and a venting tool.
Oh this is an interesting story! This newspaper was established in a classic corruption scheme that just slipped through the cracks! It is owned by this guy who was the previous Minister of Information (the regulator of the press) and was apparently a beneficiary of a good amount of Ministry money. Also, at the time just leading to 2002, he stopped giving newspaper licenses to ensure they don't create "too much" competition (nice, huh?). But then the new King came and things opened up (irony #1: the guy is now media advisor to the King.. only in Bahrain!!) Anyway, fast-forward to 2006 and the newspaper gets into a deep rift with Islamists in parliament who question its resources. It then decides to wage an all-anti-menbar-Islami-war. It is entertaining in a way. Its columnists are almost all uniformly secular nationalists and mostly decent, but are unfortunately less-read today because of the Isamists' war on the paper.
This newspaper is very interesting. It is the newest addition to Bahrain and I'm starting to really enjoy it. The editor is a center-line journalist, but its news pages are exhibiting an opposition-leaning perspective and columnists are almost all opposition nationalists. Abdul Rahman Al-Noaimi, of Wa'ad of course, is the jewel of the newspaper in my opinion. It also has some distinguished contributors (e.g. Abdulhadi Khalaf, Abbas Busafwan, Afaf Al-Jamri, Hana Buhiji), some of whom are ex-Wasat. I can probably say this is the second Bahraini newspaper that does not seem to be bought by the government.
5. AL-Meethaq & Al-Ahd
No one reads them (I'm sorry)
Evil in its purest form. It feeds on sectarian hatred and fears. I wish Sawsan Al-Sha'er would leave. Her writings are too decent for that paper (but they pay like insane & have good resources** wink wink)
Note:I'm only talking about Arabic papers.. the English ones need a whooole section of their own!