First: News websites
“Masrawy” & “Youm7″… absence of awareness, “Sada El-Bald”… one-sided truth
. Masrawy, Youm7 and most of Egypt’s news websites publish a news story that reads: “Egypt succeeds in reducing inflation rates.”
The Cabinet’s Media Center said that Egypt succeeded in maintaining inflation rates within the central bank’s target range at a time when many countries in the world are witnessing a wave of rising inflation.
The center explained that the state had adopted rational economic and monetary policies during the past years, based on scientific studies, indicators and future expectations that took into account achieving stability in the prices of commodities that may witness increases at times, as well as setting interest rates in line with inflation targets, which makes Egypt in at the forefront of the emerging markets that have lowered the inflation rate.
This news piece topped the news in most of the websites, and its wordings are the same except in some ineffective points. All news websites reported that the government succeeded in reducing inflation rates, and all these reports are devoid of balance as they don’t include any statements or comments from an independent expert about the validity of the reduction in inflation and whether citizens are really affected by this reduction when it comes to the commodity prices. What is strange here is that “Masrawy” website pointed out that the government has taken into account “stabilizing the prices of commodities..” and this needs more scrutiny so that the reader doesn’t lose credibility of the piece. This reader, of course, can clearly see the difference between what he is experiencing (high prices) and what this news report says.
. “Mobtada” website publishes, on 7 September, a piece of news that reads:
In pictures…Distributing 96,000 different food cartons to the neediest families in Giza
Ahmed Rashid, Governor of Giza, announced the launch of the convoy dedicated to Giza Governorate as part of the “Abwab El-Khair” convoy, which includes social assistance for the neediest families with a total of 96 thousand various food cartons, in addition to medical aid, stressing that the convoy is launched through “Tahya Masr” Fund in cooperation with The Ministry of Social Solidarity, with the participation of 20 civil society organizations and charities.
This is a propaganda piece that falls within promotional campaigns in an election. The story contains nothing but praise and commendation for what is offered to citizens through the government’s cooperation with the Tahya Masr Fund. The piece didn’t mention that the Fund gets its money from the donations of the Egyptian citizens themselves. It also didn’t mention the poverty rate in Egypt and the reason for such destitution, and this makes the piece lose its balance and objectivity and turns into a mere propaganda product.
The report’s link:
. Sada El-Bald publishes, on 8 September, a news report that reads:
“A police officer storms the house of an elderly man and assaults him in Alexandria
The security services at the Ministry of Interior have revealed the details of what was circulated on one of “Facebook” pages, as a woman claimed that a quarrel had taken place in front of her father’s house after he intervened trying to end it, adding that one of the Interior Ministry’s men stormed the house of her elderly parents to investigate them into the quarrel before he assaulted her father in front of her and his grandchildren.
After investigating the incident, the Ministry of the Interior found that on March 11, 2021 the Mina al-Basal Police Station in Alexandria received a report from the Emergency Police Department of a quarrel resulted in a fire that broke out inside a house, and accordingly a security force headed by the accused officer headed there to examine the matter”.
The piece is based on the Ministry of Interior’s narrative alone to reveal the truth of the incident, although the ministry is a party in the case since the accused officer is the plaintiff. This makes the piece lose fairness and balance, as it didn’t mention any statements from the woman who is a main party in the news story.
The report’s link:
. Al-Dostor news website publishes a report that says:
Al-Moselhi: We worked 24 hours to continue the food supply chains depsite the coronavirus
Dr. Ali Al-Moselhi, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, participated in the closing sessions of the Egypt Forum for International Cooperation and Development Finance in its first edition 2021.
Al-Moselhi said: We worked around the clock to ensure that food supply chains continue to reach all citizens, and therefore we needed the participation of the private sector and took decisions that were not unilateral, but were based on the participation of all concerned parties from public and private sectors, to secure the production and logistics process from a very efficient distribution network “.
The news piece presents the statements of the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade regarding his great efforts and the 24-work a day, but the piece didn’t provide any evaluation of this effort. The news’ editor didn’t interview any expert to evaluate the providing of food to the poor in Egypt during the Coronavirus crisis, whether the majority of the poor obtained food supplies, and whether there any problems or issues. The piece is devoid of balance in presenting information and is content with introducing the statements of only one party, which is the Minister.
The report’s link:
. A special Annex on the coverage of the National Human Rights Strategy
With President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launching the so-called National Strategy for Human Rights, we followed the news reports published about the strategy.
We monitored some headlines and short excerpts from these reports so that the reader can try to form a point of view about the journalistic treatment of this incident, which some described as “historic”.
* Al-Ahram Gate
Launched by President Sisi to raise the dignity of Egyptian citizens… Details on the National Strategy for Human Rights document
Diplomats and human rights activists applauded the National Human Rights Strategy, pointing out that it goes in line with the international human rights standards, and works to create a balance between the political, legal, economic and social dimensions of human rights.
* Al-Masry Al-Youm
Parliament’s workforce Committee: The National Human Rights Strategy is an ambitious national roadmap
*Al-Shourouk news website
Minister of Justice: The National Human Rights Strategy represents a paradigm shift in Egypt
The National Human Rights Strategy is the gateway to advancing the state’s obligations towards citizens
* Cairo 24 website
Ibrahim Issa on the launch of the National Human Rights Strategy: A historical scene
Ambassador Ahmed Ihab Gamal El-Din on the launch of the National Human Rights Strategy: Egypt is on the right track and speaks the official language of human rights.
* Al-Dostor news website
International reports highlight the “National Human Rights Strategy”
The English-language newspaper “The National” reported that President Sisi renewed his commitment to establishing a “modern, civil, democratic state that respects its people and seeks their interests.”
* Sada El Balad
A parliamentarian: The National Human Rights Strategy is based on a national vision and belief to enhance human rights
Amplifying the dignity of citizens… Parliamentarians applaud the launch of the National Human Rights Strategy
All eight websites praise and applaud the National Human Rights Strategy by citing many commentators, in what can be described as a journalistic miracle. Being different is a natural state among human beings, but here the Egyptian press made the miracle; everyone agreed on one thing without giving a single note, even a small one, on this strategy. The initiative talks about human rights and this certainly allows for a plurality of opinions and viewpoints, which is one of the main foundations in the principles of journalism: fairness and balance. But both are absent here. There isn’t a single opposing opinion or a comment that criticizes the strategy.
* Among this press coverage of the National Human Rights Strategy, there was a bright spot that appeared on Mada Masr addressing the same initiative. It published a report saying:
Al-Sisi launches the National Human Rights Strategy.. Bahgat: reflects a misdiagnosis of the challenges the country is facing… Al-Borai: not a declaration of a comprehensive national reconciliation, but it is a good step.
For his part, Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) asserted, in his interview with Mada Masr, that President Sisi’s speech and all what has been published regarding the strategy is so far a misdiagnosis of the challenges facing the country. He explained that the basics of protecting human rights are: stopping violations, and holding accountable those responsible for these violations, and compensating the victims of these violations, so as to prevent the recurrence of these violations. But what we have today is that the people are the problem..”
Mada Masr’s report clearly shows that there is an opposing opinion, even if it is one, regarding a certain issue, although there may be many other opinions that oppose the aforementioned initiative. The role of journalism is to reflect all the opinions of society so that the picture becomes objectively clear about any news story or issue. Here, Mada Masr shows balance and fairness in presenting the different views on the so-called the National Human Rights Strategy which received great coverage from all Egyptian media.
Mada Masr’s report:
Third: Talk shows
1- Media choir and episodes of Tuesday 7 September 2021
This exceptional side title (heading) is chosen to monitor the introduction of the talk shows’ episodes that were broadcast on 7 September 2021; as all talk shows on this day address the same topic and present the same view using the same style. What only differs is the time they dedicated to speak about this topic, which ranged between 30 and 36 minutes for Lamis Al Hadidi, Tamer Amin, and Nashat Al Dehi, whereas the longest period of coverage came for Ahmed Moussa who exceeded an hour and 56 minutes.
This day witnessed the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s opening of Alexandria Port after the development and the delivery of the new train cars that were imported to develop the railway system.
No mindful person can deny the economic importance of developing the maritime transport sector as one of the means of development given its positive impact on trade and economy, nor can he deny the urgent necessity to develop the railway sector, which suffers from a major deterioration that has led to many casualties over many years. But the role of media, if objective, is: to address and discuss how this development can be implemented, outline the alternative opportunities for its implementation and its cost, and evaluate the plan that has been approved for implementation (is the most ideal plan?) This is especially in light of a critical economic situation as citizens still suffer from high prices, and the foreign debt has doubled to unprecedented levels, which necessitated broadcasters and media professionals to host other neutral voices other than those responsible for implementing these projects, so as to analyze the methods of implementation and sources of expenditure and the impact on the public debt, in compliance with the Clause No. (2) Of the Media Honor Charter, which obliges the media to be objective and balanced in handling issues and presenting point of views and not to give priority to special interests over professional and national considerations. Nonetheless, it seems that media presenters are competing in praise and commendation that they present only one point of view without taking into account any balance or objectivity. They also mixed their personal opinion with the information they presented without making any separation between them, in violation of the Code of Professional Conduct for Media Performance.
The episodes’ links:
2- “Akher Al-Nahar” program- Tamer Amin- episode of Tuesday, 7 September 2021
During a telephone interview with media professional Siham Saleh, Tamer commented on a picture that he screened and that involves an insult against his media colleague Ibrahim Issa:
“This is the (Facebook) page attributed to our colleague Siham Saleh, and that unfortunately posted a picture of our colleague Ibrahim Issa, and this is an offence that harms him. So we blamed Siham for this. It is her responsibility. “
Siham said (disapproving this behavior): Captain Ayman Younes called me and said: (Siham, do call me “Soma the lover”?)
Tamer laughed and said: What did you call Ayman Younis? …and continues to laugh
Despite the regret expressed by Tamer Amin for offending his colleague on a fake page on Facebook, he violated the principles of the Media Honor Code, principle No. (8) thereof states that: “media professional should show respect for the duties and rights of his colleagues”. He also violated Principle No. (6) in the same honor code, which stipulates for “the obligation not to use words, phrases, or images that contradict public morals and societal values.” Tamer laughed at what his guest said about Ayman Younes and prompted her to repeat the word “Soma the Lover” to continue laughing instead of condemning this insult.
3- “Paper and Pen“- Nashat Al-Dihi, episode of 8 September 2021
Al-Dihi said, in response to Essam Hajji’s accusation of causing the latter’s research on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GRED) to be omitted from the papers of a famous British university and from another magazine that had published this research:
“Of course, if the one who talks is crazy, then the one who listens is supposed to be sane.”
Then he added:
“I have always said the so-called Essam Hajji is a scientific lie…This is my opinion and I am declaring it without shame. From his actions and words, I see that he hates the Egyptian state, he hates Egypt. He writes and works for the interest of other people”
“This is absurdity, nonsense, offence, disrespect, lack of knowledge and lack of honesty.”
He also screened a tweet describing Hajji as a “swindler” and “con man”.
It was also noted, during Al-Dehi’s presentation of some of the tweets commenting on Issam Hajji, that he directed the program’s producer not to screen Issam’s images saying “Oh skip it boy, skip it”.
Al-Daihi violated the duties stipulated by the media honor charter. He didn’t respect the general morals of media dialogue and didn’t avoid entering into personal arguments or disagreements. He didn’t also adhere to the appropriate behavior and manner that suits common sense, using terms such as “absurdity, nonsense, and disrespect”, while accusing Hajji of madness and ignorance. He accused him of working for the interest of others (treason) and hating Egypt under no evidence. He also showed disrespect in dealing with the program’s producer when he called him “boy” and this reflects the broadcaster’s unprofessionalism as he ought to call him “Mr.”
The episode’s link:
4- Human Rights Strategy and the return of the choir, episodes of Saturday 11 September 2021
The first segment of the talk shows aired on this day (11 September) tackled the discussion session that accompanied the launch of the state’s Human Rights Strategy. This unified segment has been addressed by all program presenters, a matter that confirms that the purpose of this strategy is media consumption only. As usual and as happens after every event or project witnessed or opened by the President, the media choir team began chanting songs of praise and support, while emphasizing on the insignificance of political rights and the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Despite their attempts to confirm that this session included invitees from all pro and opposition currents, the media choir at that time was accompanied by a group of guests, who support the Human Rights Strategy, to give a specialized analytical background to their media coverage, without presenting any other opinion or an opposing viewpoint. Those episodes reflect the exaggeration in supporting and applauding the government’s human rights strategy especially that it comes at a time when many prisoners of conscience are languishing behind bars over cases of a political nature, and many of them have exceeded the maximum limit of pretrial detention without trial. Those episodes that covered this event are devoid of objectivity and balance in presenting the points of view stipulated by the media code of ethics.
The episodes links:
5- “Al-Hayah Al-Youm” program- Lubna Asal, episode of 13 September 2021
Media professional Lubna Asal hosted, via a phone interview, Talaat Abdel Qawi, the president of the General Union of NGOs. Following are some excerpts from his statements:
“When the 2014 constitution was issued, and it is one of the wonderful and unprecedented constitutions in Egypt and the whole world…
We have a whole chapter in the constitution that talks about rights, freedoms and duties; from Article 51 to Article 89, which assert that human dignity is inviolable and the state is responsible for preserving it…
Every simple Egyptian citizen understands that he has rights, freedoms and duties. We want every Egyptian citizen to know his right (when he is inside the hospital or school for example) and his right to sue…”
The guest spoke about the Egyptian constitution and the section of rights and freedoms to comment on the state’s National Strategy for Human Rights. He began to enumerate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and elaborated in praising the efforts undertaken by the state, the President, and civil society for citizens to obtain those rights. He mentioned the articles in the constitution pertaining to rights and freedoms and spoke about human dignity, but the anchorwoman didn’t attempt to ask him about the extent to which these rights are implemented and how those freedoms are exercised on the ground, although she- and whoever concerned with public affairs- knows that there are many political prisoners and peaceful prisoners of conscience unjustly languishing in Egyptian prisons under no legal ground. She also didn’t host another guest with a different point of view to help reveal the whole truth for viewers. It is paradoxical that this media blackout is practiced on the same day that the lawyer of political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah announced that his client notified him of his intention to commit suicide due to the sufferings he endured inside his solitary confinement and being deprived from exercising the normal life of prisoners.
Still remains the question that we’ll never tire of: Where is the other opinion? Where is the balance and objectivity in presenting the viewpoints which is necessary to complete the truth, as stipulated in the media honor charter?
The episode’s link:
6- “Kelma Akhira”, Lamis El-Hadidi, episode of Monday 14 September 2021
Lamis said: “A while ago, the Public Prosecutor ordered the detention of the doctor who filmed the attack on the nurse, and by interrogating him, he denied what was attributed to him claiming that the victim “nurse” had accepted the playful game before filming the video, but the nurse denied, in his previous statements, that he accepted the incident to be filmed.
She moved on and said: “The Public Prosecution decided to shelve this communiqué because there is no tangible evidence to support the accusation of the complainant against the defendant”. Then she made a telephone interview with the student who filed the lawsuit to comment on the judicial ruling.
ANHRI’s comment: During this episode’s segment, Lamis conveyed the details of the investigation with the doctor accused of assaulting and bullying a nurse in his workplace. She revealed the details of the case although it is still being considered before the judiciary, but this didn’t prevent her from conveying its details while the prosecution is still carrying out its work. She also allowed her guest to comment on the judicial ruling issued in the lawsuit, in violation of Article No. (10) of the Media Code of Honor, which bans the expression of opinion regarding cases considered before the judiciary and stipulated for not commenting on judicial rulings. The anchorwoman also violated the code of professional conduct for media performance in Article VIII, which states: “It is prohibited to publish or present news of lawsuits and crimes in a manner that leads to their justification or favoritism and avoiding influencing public opinion and concerned parties for or against the accused, witnesses or judges.”