- “Mobtada”, “El-Watan”: Publicity and advertisement, “Youm7”, the opposite of “Al-Manassa” in covering Sudan incidents “News websites“
- “El-Wafd”, “Al-Akhbar” and “El-Masry Al-Youm”: Attack and prejudice against “Feather” film “Newspapers“
- “Akher Al-Nahar”: Advertisement and propaganda, “On My Responsibility”: False figures “Talk shows“
First: News websites
1- “Mobtada” news website publishes on 21 October 2021 a news story that reads:
Madbouly confirms the great concern the state displays for small and medium enterprises
The Prime Minister stressed the great consideration that the state gives for small, medium and micro enterprises, out of its belief in the role that these projects play in the comprehensive development process that the state implements in all sectors, pointing to the many initiatives being undertaken to support these projects at this stage, upon the directives of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to provide job opportunities for young people, in an effort to increase the percentage of the contribution of these projects to the growth of the national economy”.
* “‘Mobtada” website quoted the statements made by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and this is an important matter. But the website devoted a large space to the officials’ remarks without giving a small part or making a journalistic effort to evaluate the information, so the piece of news turns into an advertising or commercial space allocated to the officials to speak about their efforts and achievements. The piece is devoid of the principles of objectivity and fairness, as the journalist could have brought an independent investment expert to talk about what the government is doing in this regard to help the reader evaluate these governmental efforts instead of conveying a single point of view.
2- “Al-Dostor” website publishes on 21 October a news report that says:
90 minutes, maximum expected delay for today’s trains
The Railway Authority announced the expected train delays, today (Thursday), due to the authority’s comprehensive development work on some lines to enhance safety and security factors and raise the level of services provided to passengers.
* The report’s headline says that 90 minutes is the maximum train delay, which gives an impression to the reader that 90 minutes is a short time! The journalist then moves on in his report trying to justify this delay by saying “due to the comprehensive development work that the authority has accomplished…. The piece of news lacks objectivity and balance and uses a biased twist in which the journalist intervenes in the story to make a judgment and direct readers.
3- Mada Masr publishes a report on October 21 saying:
“Doctors Syndicate” adheres to protecting its members from pretrial detention in “medical responsibility”
Rashwan Shaaban, member of the Doctors Syndicate board, said that the Syndicate adheres, in the fourth version of the medical liability bill, which it sent to the House of Representatives, to “protect doctors from pretrial detention in case of unintended medical errors”
Shaaban said, in his interview with Mada Masr, the Ministry of Justice objected to granting protection to doctors from pretrial detention upon the draft law – in its earlier version, and considered the matter a kind of discrimination in their favor, “But we cannot abandon this provision, so we have provided additions to explain the goal behind it, especially since this protection is a global trend in these cases, due to the exceptional nature of the accusation as it is related to incidents behind which there is no interest.”
* “Mada Masr” report publishes a news story that you may not find on most news websites. It talks about the medical responsibility bill and the disagreement and dispute between the Ministry of Justice and the Medical Syndicate. The report seems balanced and accurate as it published the two viewpoints towards the draft law. But it gave a large space to the Doctors Syndicate and its representatives to talk about their point of view, while it didn’t bring any official that represents the Ministry of Justice to present his view, and this affects the extent of fairness in the report.
4- El-Watan website publishes on 23 October a news report that says:
Cairo tops Egyptian universities in publishing and scientific research for the second year in a row
74 Cairo University professors listed among top 2% of scientists globally
Cairo University President Mohamed Othman El-Khosht announced that 74 professors at the university were added to the list of the top 2 percent of scientists around the world, according to composite index, making the university ranked first in Egypt for the second year in a row with the largest number of scientists.
El-khosht: We outperform ourselves with a 34% improvement in a year
The President of Cairo University said that the list of the best scientists around the world, which was published in October last year, included 55 scientists from Cairo University, and this year it achieved a progress rate of 34 percent after it included 74 scientists from the university, confirming the superiority of Cairo University in the fields of classification. The university is one of the top 1% at the level of international universities, and it is ahead of major international universities in the prestigious international rankings and outperforms a number of universities in Europe, America and Asia.
The journalist quoted the President of Cairo University’s statements in a promotional way, turning the piece of news into propaganda for the university and its president, without any scrutiny or effort on the part of the journalist to clarify or verify the accuracy of what is being said. The president of Cairo University says that “74 university professors have been included in the list of the top 2% of scientists around the world”, but the information is incomplete, as it didn’t tackle the reasons why they were included and in which institution? There is no answer to this question. The report continued to list incomplete information making it devoid of accuracy, the most important principles of the journalist profession.
5- “Manassa” website publishes on 25 October a news report that reads:
“Signs of a military coup in Sudan”
In signs of a military coup in Sudan, army forces arrested today, Monday, the civilian Prime Minister, Abdullah Hamdok, from his home, and a number of ministers and civil officials, while the army troops have been heavily deployed across the streets and there were reports of disruption of Internet and telephone services.
On their part, civil forces, led by the “Sudanese Civilian Gathering”, announced their rejection of the coup, calling on citizens to take to the streets to defend their revolutionary gains, while the Doctors Syndicate announced going on a political strike.
* This report covers all the details of the incident with accuracy, balance and remarkable fairness. It cited all the parties involved in the incident, whether those supporting or rejecting what the Military Council did. However, the journalist described the action from its point of view and categorized it using the words “signs of a military coup in Sudan”. It should be better to leave the description of the incident to the acting parties and distance him from such a thing. But all in all, the report deserves praise and commendation, especially when you compare it with what you will read in the next report published by “Youm7” news website.
6- “Youm7” website publishes, on 25 October, a news report that says:
“Declaring a state of emergency and dissolving the government and the Transitional Sovereignty Council in Sudan… A government of national competencies to be formed to take over the affairs of the state until the elections scheduled for July 2023… Al-Burhan: The youth revolution continues on and we support its demands.. Video”
Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan affirmed the entitlement of the youth and people of Sudan to have a homeland they dream of, stressing that the armed forces are continuing to complete the democratic transition until handing over the leadership of the state to an elected civilian government that fulfills their ambition in these slogans.
* When you look at the language used in the “Youm7” report, you clearly reach one conclusion: the website promotes what Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of the Military Sovereignty Council in Sudan, did; as he any didn’t cite any other party or someone who opposes what happened, although the Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok himself spoke to people before placing him under house arrest.
In a clear comparison with “Al-Manassa” report, you can clearly get the big journalistic difference in the adherence of the principles and rules of journalism. Principles of fairness and balance are completely absent in the “‘Youm7” report as it cited only one party in the crisis, while the “Al-Manassa” report cited the forces of Freedom and Change, the Doctors Syndicate and the Prime Minister, and Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan to make the picture clear for readers so that they could assess and evaluate the situation taking place in Sudan.
How did the Egyptian newspapers cover the ‘Feathers’ movie crisis in El Gouna Film Festival?
– “El-Wafd” newspaper, on 19 October 2021
Khaled Idris wrote on the newspaper’s first page a news story entitled “Actors withdrew from the special screening of the film during the El Gouna Film Festival as it carries insult to the Egyptian society. The report said that artists Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Rezk and Ashraf Abdel-Baki, along with a number of the movie’s participants, had withdrawn half an hour after screening of the movie, and that those responsible for the movie production distorted some facts with the aim of insulting Egypt and showing Egyptian society in way that is different from reality. It added that the film has caused massive uproar among all who watched it, and considered it that it doesn’t present the real art as it deliberately ignored the positives while it highlighted and exaggerated the negatives in Egypt as if they were the dominant feature. The withdrawn actors also emphasized that the film was not worth watching because it indeed falsifies the facts.
– Al-Wafd newspaper on 20 October 2021
Journalist Samia Farouk wrote on the newspaper’s last page a news report about a complaint submitted by lawyer Samir Sabry with the Public Prosecutor and the Supreme State Security Prosecution against the director, scriptwriter and producer of the “Feathers” movie, accusing them of insulting the Egyptian state for deliberately presenting an offensive and untrue image of the lives of Egyptians and Egyptian society, and demanded that they all be referred to a speedy criminal trial.
– Al-Wafd newspaper on 21 October 2021
On its eighth page, “Al-Wafd” newspaper quoted film critic Tariq El-Shennawy as praising the movie “Feathers”, pointing out that the image of the homeland cannot be limited to a set of scenes. Likewise, producer Mohamed Hefzy stated that the movie didn’t carry political allusions. On the same page, there was a critical article by Hanan Abu Al-Dia, in which she quickly reviews the film from her point of view and her own vision.
– Al-Akhbar newspaper on 20 October 2021
Journalist and critic Howaida Hamdi wrote on the newspaper’s second page a critical article about the movie “Feather”. The article is entitled “A black comedy about ugliness and poverty in an absurd film.” Howaida wonders in her article: “What is the value of art if it does not add beauty to life? Even ugliness can be expressed in aesthetics that do not carry its infection to the viewer so he runs away”. The article concludes: “Congratulations to director Omar Al-Zuhairi for the (Cannes) award, and it seems that there is no way for prestigious awards except by creating ugliness… I didn’t like this soulless film.”
– “El-Masry El-Youm” on 20 October 2021
Saeed Khaled wrote on the newspaper’s last page a report entitled “Feathers… from celebration in (Cannes) to controversy in (El-Gouna)”… Artists withdraw from the film’s screening, and supporters: the director invented a different world.” The report referred in general to the controversy that the film has raised at the El-Gouna Film Festival and the backlash the movie has triggered among actors, such as Sherif Mounir, as well as to some of its supporters including film critic Tariq Al-Shennawi and director Yousry Nasrallah. The report also alluded to a statement made by the director of the film, Omar Al-Zuhairi, commenting on the criticisms raised against the movie.
Let’s start from El-Wafd newspaper, which addressed the subject in a prejudiced and unprofessional way. It used declarative sentences as if it was in the process of issuing a judgment and not introducing a news report about an incident. The newspaper also made a generalization error when it said that the movie has angered everyone who watched it! The report didn’t commit to objectivity in tackling the incident and didn’t mention the other opinions, and it seems that the journalist who wrote the piece is not specialized in the art field and he didn’t bear the trouble of conveying the views of specialists and experts.
Also, the next day, El-Wafd newspaper focused on shedding light on the report filed by the lawyer Samir Sabry accusing the filmmakers of insulting the Egyptian state and calls for bringing them to trial. And there is no professional reason for the journalism to continue to highlight such complaints lodged by Hesba lawyers whose main purpose is to gain media presence and visibility in the spotlight, as if the newspaper offers a free service to promote the name of the aforementioned lawyer.
A day later, the newspaper corrected its previous mistakes, and finally published different views and opinions of professionals and cinema experts, such as film critic Tarek El-Shennawy and producer Mohamed Hefzy, in addition to the critical article of writer Hanan Abul-Dia that was largely supportive of the film.
However, it would have been more appropriate and beneficial for both the newspaper and readers not to divide the its handling of one topic over three consecutive days as shown in the previous lines, making its press coverage of this topic devoid of coherence and comprehensiveness which may lead the reader to feel confused, when the newspaper tells him that the movie is offensive to Egyptian state and on the second day it defends the same movie!
As for Al-Akhbar newspaper, although it published what is closer to an opinion article written by Howaida Hamdi, it didn’t, on the other hand, publish any other opinions, which constitutes also a form of prejudice.
The most report that adheres to the proper and professional journalistic approach in addressing the issue is the one published by Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper; because it didn’t make judgments by formulating declarative sentences, and it didn’t also hide an opinion or information, but rather it mentioned the opinions of those who objected to the film, and on the other hand, the opinions of those who support and defend it. Furthermore, it succeeded in extracting a statement from the director of the film, Omar Al-Zuhairi.
– Al-Shorouk newspaper on 19 October 2021
Al-Shorouk newspaper published, on the fourth page, a piece of news about the Parliament Speaker Hanafi Jabali’s referral of a draft law to the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Affairs, to amend some provisions of the Penal Code promulgated by Law No. 58 of 1937.
This piece of news is incomplete; as it did not mention any details regarding the draft law or information about the provisions of the Penal Code and the articles that are demanded to be amended.
– Al-Shorouk newspaper on 20 October 2021
Shaima Shennawy wrote on the last page: “Launching the book (The Journey of Life) by Dr. Hana Abu Al-Ghar today”. The news piece only deals with the details of the book launch and the discussion ceremony of the book at Al-Jazeera Club as organized by Dar Al-Shorouk for Publishing and Distribution. It also referred to the titles of the chapters of the book and the topics it covered.
We always find news reports about cultural or artistic events, but what is suspicious here is that the piece did not provide any important information about the book or any criticism or quick reading or review, but it merely made an announcement about the event, its date and place. This confused and quick formulation of the report raises doubts about the fact that it is not a press report but rather a paid advertisement or perhaps a press courtesy for the sake of free publicity.
– “El-Masry El-Youm”, 21 October 2021
In the newspaper’s sixth page, which is devoted to sports news, we read this headline:
“Salah… On Fire”
The newspaper used a foreign term in the headline “On Fire”- without even giving a hint or an explanation to its meaning- and this is an explicit professional error; because the newspaper is primarily targeting readers speaking the Arabic language, not English.
– Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper on October 23, 2021
On page 6 of the newspaper, we read a piece of news detailing a case that is being considered before the Family Court. The piece is headlined: “Khulu’ (divorce initiated on the part of the wife) for the obscured husband!”
Although the piece didn’t mention any information about those who are involved in the case, which is a good thing that shows respect for the personal lives of people and litigants in a case, its wording as well as the method over which the headline is written can be categorized under the yellow press which only looks for scandals and sexual details to attract and provokes the reader.
Third: Talk shows
– “Akher Al-Nahar” TV program, Tamer Amin, episode of Tuesday 19 October 2021
Tamer said: Now we have companies that have proven their high efficiency and great capabilities in gaining customer trust and confidence. The “Net” company for decoration and landscapes is a company specialized in designing and implementing interior decorations and finishes for residential and commercial units and furniture works. The most important thing that distinguishes this company is the innovative design, meticulous execution and the highest level of finishing output, as we’ll see in the upcoming report.
Tamer Amin violated the media honor code in its principle No. 12, which obligates him to explicitly separate between media or news material and advertising or publicity material. He also didn’t abide by the code of professional conduct for media performance, which states in its nineteenth article that the media and advertising material, in all its forms, should not be confused within any media content, and that separation between them should be quite clear to the audience.
– “On My Responsibility” TV program, Ahmed Mosa, episode of Tuesday 19 October 2021
Mosa said: We have in Egypt about 10 fertilizer factories. They produce approximately 23 million tons per year, and we use 12 million tons of them. This means that we have approximately 10 million tons of surplus medicine. So, where does the surplus go? The state is telling you that fertilizer factories will operate it but on the condition that 55% of the factories’ production goes to the Ministry of Agriculture or to its farms, so that farmers can have them at cost price. The state, therefore, is doing a very great thing, while the remaining 45% of fertilizers, the factory can export them. So everyone here wins and earns. We have seen in the last period that the fertilizers story started to get worse. The fertilizer sack costs 160 EGP and now it has reached approximately 300 or 320.
Mosa presented inaccurate information during this episode. There are 15 fertilizer factories in Egypt, not 10, and the local consumption is 9 million tons, not 12, which means that companies supply 39% of their production to the local market, not 55%. Mosa described the state policy in this regard as “great”, even in light of the crisis of fertilizers disappearance from the official markets. Mosa didn’t commit to accuracy and honesty in the information he presented, and he didn’t take into account the matter of specialization and efficiency in his coverage, as he dealt with the subject himself instead of hosting a fertilizer specialist or expert.
– “Pen and Paper“, Nashaat El-Dihi, episode of Wednesday 20 October
Today Fitch Ratings issued a report on the economic and creditworthiness of some emerging countries, and affirmed Egypt at ‘B+’ with Outlook Stable, adding that Egypt has made a lot of development, whether in terms of the growth rates, reducing the total deficit, reducing or stabilizing debts. Egypt has achieved a set of structural macroeconomic objectives. Fitch’s report confirmed that Egypt is on the right path, and this is the most important thing in the matter.
Al-Dihi displayed on the screen a brief of the Fitch Ratings report as published on its website and translated it dishonestly, without integrity, as he ignored the negatives and warnings that made up the majority of the report in its summary. The report stated that “the most prominent business risks include onerous trade barriers, high cost of supply chain disruptions, especially in 2021, and strict labor market structure, in addition to high legal risks, and risks of terrorism and political violence, which remain high, as well as the fact that the important role played by the large state-owned entities in the economy and the high structural dependence on imports for manufactured goods prevent trade and investment competitiveness to invest in non-primary sectors in particular.” Al-Dihi ignored all these dangers that the report mentioned and referred only to the last three lines which included some speculations regarding the distant future based on Egypt’s geographical location and the lifting of subsidies.
– “Al-Hayah Al-Youm“, Lobna Asal, episode of Saturday 23 October
Lobna said: “Of course, any news related to road accidents remains unfortunate news, but this specific accident provokes a sense of humor. You know, Egyptians have always had a reputation for their light and witty sense of humor. So, when a chef crashes with her car into another chef’s car- although it’s a tragic accident- but you find Egyptians making fun of it on social media, saying for example (This is an accident with béchamel) or (This is not the secret of the crash, this is the secret of recipes).
Lobna permitted herself to succumb to social media comments that underestimate and make fun of people’s calamities and misfortunes turning them into jokes in order to reach the largest number of interaction and viewership, although the general principles of the media Code of honor (Article No. 20) obligate media workers to take into account the humanitarian aspect in dealing with accidents and disasters in a way that doesn’t hurt the feelings of people and victims’ families. But Lobna kept smiling while she was reading such ridiculous comments on social media.
– “Akher Al-Nahar” TV program, Mohamed El-Baz, episode of Sunday 24 October
Al-Baz said: I want to let you hear a message sent to me by an old friend who has been working as a butcher for nearly 40 years. The man is warning of something I want to put before the government. Let us hear this message from my dear friend Ashraf Hamed.
He moved on, after displaying the message of his friend (the butcher): “Why did I introduce this message to you? Because this man has a review and inspection of how the market is working, and he says that he expects that the prices of meat will reach 200 Egyptian pounds one day, and he accordingly discusses the issue and comes up with some ideas. When you find that people slaughter 10,000 calves a day throughout the 27 governorates, then you need to have a pause. The man is putting forward some suggestions, I don’t know to what extent they may be useful”.
Al-Baz was promoting and propagating his friend, the butcher. He mentioned his name, talked about his experience, and displayed an audio recording he sent to him accompanied by his picture. This constitutes a violation of the media honor charter, which obliges media professionals to explicitly separate between media and advertising materials. He also echoed the numbers mentioned by his friend without asking an expert or a specialist, or citing institutional sources, to verify the validity of the information presented to the audience especially that the aforementioned figure (consuming 10,000 calves a day nationwide) is not a big number, if the number of calves is divided by 100 million people.
The newsletter does not exclusively list all the topics, news and articles included in different media outlets, but it rather gives examples of them, in a way that contributes to shedding light on the most important topics and the degree of professionalism and respect for media codes of honor.