- “Mobtada”& “Al-Dostor” websites, the press of achievements…”Youm7″, “Dostor” & “Sada El-Bald”, media blackout and bias “New websites“
- “Al-Akhbar”, “Al-Ahram”, “Al-Shorouk” & “Al-Masry Al-Youm”, confusion between media and advertisement “Print media“
- “On My Responsibility” & “Kelma Akhira”, false information “Talk shows“
First news websites:
- Mobtada website publishes on 27 October a news report that says:
“A national strategy and continuous support, Egyptian achievements in human rights
Egypt’s achievements in human rights during the past 7 years have been highly applauded by international and regional organizations, praising what has been achieved on the ground. This was confirmed by a report issued by the Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights Technical Secretariat, in the first issue of the Human Rights Achievements Periodical, which reviews the efforts state institutions have exerted in this regard during the first quarter of 2021.
The report monitors the Egyptian state’s efforts in field of human rights, in terms of promoting women’s rights, the right to form and join civil associations and institutions, children’s rights, the right to health, the right to work, the right to social security, the right to adequate housing, and the treatment of prisoners and other detainees, This is in addition to efforts to enhance capacity-building and disseminate a culture of human rights, not to mention the Egyptian initiatives within the multilateral framework in the field of human rights.
The website began its news story with a headline that says “Egyptian achievements in human rights” and this is considered an interference in a piece of news by imposing the opinion of the journalist who is acknowledging achievements tackled by a report of a local committee, and an international organization as the journalist claimed. And this is called a promotional speech; to publish information without checking or balancing what the report publishes with any comment from an independent human rights association, or any credible international organization.
This news piece clearly misleads readers, who will be extremely confused if they check what is being published about human rights in Egypt on any foreign news website, and this website may lose its credibility as a result.
- “Al-Dostor” news website publishes a report on 31 October that reads:
Achievements of Initiative for early detection of anemia, obesity and dwarfism for school students (Infographic)
The Ministry of Health and Population has revealed the achievements of the President’s initiative for early detection of “anemia, obesity and dwarfism” for school students, since its launch at the beginning of the current academic year, to preserve the health and safety of students.
The ministry has published an infographic on its official Facebook page showing the examination of 1,471 thousand and 974 students in various schools across the country, as part of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s initiative for the early detection of diseases (anemia, obesity and dwarfism) among primary school students.
* It seems that there is a new trend invented by Egyptian journalists. We have been seeing almost the same method being echoed by many news websites. After “Mobtada” report on the government achievements, we find this piece of news by Al-Dostor” website as it begins with the same first word in the headline “achievements”. Journalists, as usual, intervene and give their opinions in the news stories.
The ministry has the right to promote itself and make as the statements it wants to, but the role of journalists is to convey and quote its statements and then try to evaluate them by citing independent experts to give the reader a balanced report and the ability to evaluate the work, but the balance is absent and the news becomes just a promotion for a government agency.
- Mada Masr publishes a report, on 31 October, that says:
Today, the House of Representatives approved a draft law on the protection of public facilities and also approved, in principle, a draft amendment of the Penal Code to tighten the penalty for disclosing country’s defense secrets, with the postponement of opinion on the bill to the next session.
In the plenary session, MP Maha Abdel Nasser, a member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, expressed her fear of applying the law, calling for defining the terms “vital and public facilities”. MP Muhammad Abdel-Alim Daoud also rejected the bill, arguing that it expands the referral of civilians to the military judiciary. “It is unreasonable for us to say to the people and the world that we cancel the emergency law and then issue a law that fosters the referral of civilians to military courts,” Daoud added, according to “Al-Masry Al-Youm”‘s news report.
The website published a balanced report on the new draft law citing those who made comments on it, unlike the many other websites that only publish a commendation for the law from deputies who approve the law, turning their reports into advertising and propaganda. On the other hand, Mada Masr maintains balance and fairness in publishing different opinions to explain to the audience every detailed point so that they can build their opinion according to different information and opinions.
* Giving a quick look, you will find a headline that went viral in most of Egypt’s news websites on October 30, as follows:
Youm7…” Burhan: What happened in Sudan is not a coup but a righting of the transitional process”
Dostor…” Burhan: What happened in Sudan is not a coup but an attempt to correct the path”
Masrawy…” Burhan denies staging coup in Sudan: What happened is a correction of the path of the transition”
When you read these pieces of news, you’ll find them all the same in their wording as they all read:
“General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, stressed that what happened in Sudan is not a coup, but rather a correction to the transitional process.
Lieutenant-General Al-Burhan confirmed that the blood of the victims of the Sudanese people was what prompted the army to correct the course of the revolution. He reiterated his commitment to moving forward with the “revolution” until free and fair elections are reached in Sudan, stressing a complete civilian transition that ensures the Sudanese live in dignity.
Then you read the almost same report in “Al-Dostor” news website:
The Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese army, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, has denied that the decisions he took a few days ago, which included the dissolution of the Sovereignty Councils and the government ruling for the transitional period, amounted to a military coup.
* With some simple follow-up on the Egyptian news websites, you will find a circular in publishing the statements of the head of the Military Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, made on October 30, the day that witnessed a huge “march of millions” that the country hasn’t witnessed since the overthrow of the ousted President Omar Al-Bashir. None of these news websites cited the statements of the other party that was sharing power with “Al-Burhan” in Sudan (the forces of Freedom and Change). None of them mentioned or referred to the demonstrations that Sudan had witnessed on the same day to denounce what protesters called a coup.
- “Sada Al-Balad” website was a day late and published, on November 1, a news report on Sudan under the headline:
“A corrective movement… Al-Burhan: What happened in Sudan is not a coup
The Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, revealed, Today, Monday, his intention to choose the prime minister and announce the Sovereignty Council in the coming days, welcoming Hamdok’s participation. Al-Burhan said: “We are already in power, and what happened is not a coup, but a corrective movement.”
We can see the same style of reporting about Sudan in Sada El-Bald’s report; as the website’s bias towards one party (Al-Burhan) clearly appears in this report which highlights his statements and completely conceals the other party’s remarks, and this is called in journalism a blackout, which completely undermines the right of reply and objectivity.
– In order to clarify the idea of media blackout, bias, lack of fairness and journalistic balance displayed by the aforementioned reports, we present, in the following lines, some press headlines to a number of Arab and foreign news websites covering the incidents in Sudan to compare them with what was published in by Egypt’s press:
“Al-Arabyia” news website:
“October 30″, a march of millions against the military… and bridges in Khartoum blocked”. Protesters were chanting slogans against the military which went viral among the Sudanese on Facebook and Twitter.
Sudan’s coup: 3 protesters killed in the “October 30 Million March” and the army isolates the capital
Deutsche Welle (DW):
Mass demonstrations in support of civilian rule and against the military
Sudan: Mass protests in Khartoum in support of the civilian government
** From the above, we can see how the press, including even the Saudi- based channel “Al-Arabiya”, paid attention to the mass demonstrations took place in Sudan, while none of them quoted or cited Al-Burhan’s statements since they are very repetitive, and the biggest incident on that day was the so-called “million march” as well as the killing and injuring of a number of protesters.
Second: Newspapers (Print media)
- El-Wafd newspaper, issue of 27 October
In the newspaper’s 3rd page, Nasser Fayadh wrote a story entitled “The government dismisses reports on wheat crisis… Egypt’s strategic stock of the wheat is enough for six months”. The report quoted the Cabinet’s Media Center and the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade as stating that reported news about the existence of a wheat crisis in any of the country’s governorates is baseless, stressing that Egypt has strategic wheat reserves sufficient for six months of consumption.
This piece displayed a great lack of information; as it only focused on the government’s denial of reports on wheat crisis, while it didn’t answer basic questions from the well-known press questions, which are: Why the government is making this statement now and why does it deny the existence of a wheat crisis? The news report doesn’t give the reader any glimpse into the background of the incident; is there news published about a real crisis that the government is trying to avoid? Are there repeated complaints from citizens regarding the abundance of wheat? What is the reason for such a denial now? You need to also take into account that Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- Al-Ahaly newspaper, 27 October 2021
On the front page of the newspaper, the main headline reads “Hisham Tawfiq continues to stir up strife and inflame disorder,” an appendix with a sub-headed “A complaint against the Minister of the Business Sector to prevent the implementation of the unified regulation.” The piece states that the General Syndicate of Chemical Industries Workers filed a lawsuit against the Minister of the Public Business Sector and the Chairman of the Holding Company for Chemical Industries, challenging the Human Resources Regulation that is harming workers and undermining their rights.
Although the details of the news story are balanced and clear to a large extent, the wording of its main headline and the phrases chosen were entirely infelicitous. It is inappropriate to describe a person as “inciting strife and fueling the anger of workers” due to a conflict between the policies of the “Tagammu” Party, to which Al-Ahly newspaper is affiliated, and the policies of the Minister of Business Sector. Making judgments and retaliation has never been one of the roles of journalism.
* Al-Ahram newspaper, issue of 28 October 2021, Page 14
* Al-Masry Al-Youm, issue of 28 October, Page 2
* Al-Wafd newspaper, issue of 28 October, Page 3
The three aforementioned newspapers have published three news reports using similar wordings and phrases in the headline, and the three news stories are almost identical. The three reports quoted a statement issued by the Public Prosecution announcing that investigations had begun with officials at the Ministry of Health regarding the accusations attributed to them, pointing that the Public Prosecution has undertaken investigations into the false reports and information disseminated on social media. They also said the Public Prosecution called upon people to abide by the information it declares alone about the incident and ignore such false news.
When a news story is published in almost identical wording in a number of newspapers on the same day, especially if the story is related to government remarks or a statement from an official body or authority, it raises suspicions about the independence of press institutions. The piece will be more like a directive from the security authorities to publish specific news without allowing the institution or the newspaper to interfere with the formation and drafting of its news reports. Also, this piece contains intentional omission and obfuscation and blackout of information, as it did not mention or specify the sort of information that was being circulated on social media and that the Public Prosecution denies its authenticity. The piece didn’t even mention what the incident is in the first place!
- Paid ads in the form of news reports… Al-Ahram has the lion’s share
The dominant feature in the news reports published by most print media this week is the increase in the area and number of advertisements disguised in the form of news pieces. This constitutes a deception to the reader and a violation of professional standards, honor codes, and the code of conduct, which provides for differentiating news and media materials and advertising materials in all its forms, asserting that the boundaries between them should be perfectly clear to the public. We take a quick look below at the most prominent examples of these ads:
– Al-Ahram newspaper, issue No. 49268, released on October 27, 2021
On its eighth page, Al-Ahram newspaper wrote, “October 6 University ranked first in the world in the 2021 Enactus International Competition”. This is undoubtedly a paid advertisement and non-free publicity for October University.
– Al-Akhbar newspaper, issue No. 21707, released on October 28, 2021
On its tenth page (specialized in tourism news), the newspaper published two reports promoting for tourist hotels. The first report is entitled “Fairmont Nile City hosts 57357 children. The Fairmont Nile City Hotel welcomed a group of children from 57357 Hospital with their families to spend a fun day to help raise their spirits!”, while the other promotional piece is for Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski. The report reads: “As part of its efforts to give back to the community, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski organized a unique event aimed at making orphans happy and fighting cancer patients under the title (Tennis to Give Hope).”
– Al-Ahram newspaper, issue No. 49270, released on October 29, 2021
The newspaper wrote on its third page, “Janssen Egypt continues its efforts to raise awareness of psoriasis… Psoriasis is a non-contagious immune disease, and biological therapy is making a breakthrough in treatment.” And in the same issue, on the sixth page, you find a news report published under the headline “German expert for spine surgery at Helmeya Hospital”. It said that the Armed Forces Hospital in Helmiya for Orthopedics and Supplementation will host Dr. Sherif Abdel-Raouf, the German-born expert in laparoscopic spine surgery, from November 10 to 20, and that the hospital receives cases that wish to be referred to the expert in the preparatory clinics.
These two stories are also considered a kind of propaganda that might deceive the reader as they are disguised in the form of news reports.
– Al-Shorouk newspaper, issue of October 31, 2021, the last page
– Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, October 31, 2021, page No. 7
The two newspapers published the same paid advertisement in the same format and ad space; the first one is published in the last page of Al-Shorouk newspaper and the second report was published in Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper’s internal pages. The ad is about a mobile phone company introducing one of its products in the market while giving a detailed review of the product’s capabilities.
Third: Talk shows
* “Akher Al-Nahar”, Tamer Amin, episode of Tuesday 26 October
Tamer said: School supplies are nothing but a ravenous pretext for collecting money. Based on my information and follow-up, the Ministry of Education has been on the lookout for private and foreign schools for nearly a year to put a limit to the increase of tuition fees. The ministry now is following up on the average fee hike for these schools and this was not happening in the past. The ministry is now protecting parents from extreme greed and exaggeration of school fees. The schools here don’t know what to do, so they invented the so-called supply list?”
Tamer accused private school owners of using the “supply list” to compensate for the limit in the increase of school fees, which he also claims that the Ministry of Education has been controlling for a year. And in the meantime, he provided false information to his viewers, as these supplies are purchased by parents with their own knowledge away from school administration. Also, school supplies are not something new or a spur-of-the-moment, but it is a years-long phenomenon. So Amin didn’t adhere to accuracy or integrity in conveying the information to his views.
* “On My Responsibility” TV program, Ahmed Mosa, episode of Tuesday 26 October
Mosa said: “In 2014 and 2015 in particular, there were 5 or 6 terrorist attacks per day, and sometimes 10. No citizen was harmed because of this (Emergency Law)”
He added in another place: “Today, you don’t have State Security trials from yesterday…But there are cases that had been referred to the State Security Courts. These cases will be considered by the State Security courts, but no new cases will be referred to these courts in the future.
Mosa broadcasted false information regarding the number of terrorist operations carried out in Egypt during 2014 and 2015. He didn’t attribute his information to any source or evidence, which violates the first article of the duties clause in the media honor charter. He also contradicted himself when he denied that any citizen was harmed because of the Emergency Law, and shortly thereafter, he acknowledged that many citizens had been referred to exceptional trials. Mosa didn’t commit to honesty and integrity in his news presentation.
* “Pen and Paper”, Nashaat El-Dihi, episode of Saturday 30 October
El-Dihi said: “Egypt has taken a huge qualitative leap in dealing with prisoners by changing the name (of prisons) to reform, rehabilitation, training and integration in a manner befitting the new strategy. This means that we are walking on the right path, and this is a wonderful move. What I saw on this day was concluded in the courts named (Court A and Court B) inside prisons, so a prisoner who is serving his prison term can attend his trial inside the prison, not outside it. So, it provides transportation and security at the same time.
This section of the program lacked balance and objectivity stipulated in the media honor charter; because the other opinion was not presented at all. The huge qualitative leap in dealing with prisoners is not limited to changing the name of prisons. Also, the media anchor ignored the fact that establishing courts within this prison that is located in remote desert region represents an additional hardship on the shoulders of the prisoners’ families who will have to visit their detained relatives in such remote place as well as their lawyers who will be attending trial sessions and following up cases there, not to mention the lack of publicity as one of the foundations of a fair trial.
* “Kelma Akhira”, Lamis El-Hadidi, episode of Saturday 30 October
During a telephone interview, the Minister of Environment said: “To clarify Egypt’s efforts at the national level in this file (climate file), we are introducing in the Egyptian pavilion our success stories in terms of launching new and renewable energy projects. We present projects related to electric transport, the idea of monorail, and the President’s initiative to convert cars to be working with natural gas, as well as projects pertaining to the waste system and how the country is adapting to such strategies. We find Egypt among the first countries that work on sewage and water reuse stations.
Egypt has been witnessing in recent years an unprecedented massacre of trees and public green spaces, which have been replaced by concrete materials, shops and stores. The media professional should have addressed this negative phenomenon when interviewing the Minister of Environment about national efforts on climate change. Lamis ignored this issue when talking about the environment in Egypt. She didn’t adhere to objectivity, balance and the other opinion when tackling this file.
– “El-Hekayah” TV program, Amr Adib, episode of Friday 29 October
Amr says: “For the first time in my life, I agreed with Faisal Al-Qasim when he said (If it weren’t for the Saudi media, George Qardahi would have been a mere anchor on Hezbollah’s affiliated Al-Manar radio station). It is the Saudi media that made you, George. And you spent all these long years hating Saudi Arabia?! So you hate the Saudis?! Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t be a schizophrenic man. It is the Saudi people who made you.”
Amr didn’t take into account the general ethics of media dialogue stipulated in the media honor charter when he talked about the Minister of Information of another country. He started leveling against him accusations and insults because of his personal opinion of a war waged by a third country against a fourth country, not to mention the vicious confusion between the Saudi regime and the Saudi people, which are totally different from each other.
– “On My Responsibility” talk show, Ahmed Mosa , episode of Saturday 30 October
Mosa said: Keep in mind that inmates who are currently imprisoned behind bars, whether convicted (received a verdict) or held on remand detention pending a certain case, are those who are present in the Reform and Rehabilitation centers all over the country. These centers, or prisons- as they were previously named, are places to carry out punishment. Prisoners in these places are treated as inmates who are hosted, for either a month or ten years, and then walk away. So do inmates are being treated as enemies? Absolutely, police officers just apply the law and regulations in dealing with those held in custody. There is a system of everything; of visitation and of exercise time, as inmates have the right to have an hour of exercise outdoors where they can bring food from outside prison, according to prison regulations.
Mosa didn’t commit to honesty or accuracy during this section of the episode, as he tried to convey an ideal picture of the performance of the prison sector, while the reality on the ground tells otherwise; in light of many prisoners of conscience having exceeded the legal limit of pretrial detention period, in light of the denial of visitation for a period exceeding a full year, the banning of exercise time, the Solitary confinement, preventing prisoners from bringing food from outside or from receiving food and staff from their families. Additionally, Mosa had to adhere to objectivity and balance in the presentation of information to convey the suffering of many prisoners of conscience’s families which are caused by merely not respecting the regulations that he claims to be applying.
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.