- “Al-Akhbar, mixing opinion with news reports… “Al-Akhbar”, “El-Wafd” & “Al-Masry Al-Youm”, mixing media with advertising “Print media“
- “With Pen and Paper”, false information… “Akher Al-Nahar”, defamation and incitement “Talk shows”
- “Mobtada”, the press of achievements…”Masrawy”, confusion between opinion and news stories “News websites“
First: Newspapers (Print media)
– “Al-Ahram” newspaper, issue of 2 November 2021
“Al-Ahram” published, on page No. 8, a news story headlined “Ordering an investigation into the murdering of a person in Ismailia”. The piece said: Public Prosecutor Hamada Al-Sawy has ordered the speedy completion of the investigations into the killing of a person and the injury of two others on the main road in Ismailia. The Public Prosecution will announce the results of the investigations later.
Although the aforementioned incident had turned into a public opinion case in the previous days, after video footages of the crime went viral on social media platforms, “Al-Ahram” report failed to mention the main information that forms a news story. It didn’t mention or refer to any details on the crime as it didn’t answer the main question “what happened?”. The only thing that the story reported is that an investigation had been opened into the killing of a person in Ismailia, but it didn’t tell us how this person was killed, or who killed him and why? Was it a traffic accident, for example? Was it a fracas, or family quarrels, or any other reasons?
– Al-Akhbar newspaper, 3 November
On the fifth page, Mohamed Hindawi wrote a press report covering the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s participation in the Glasgow Climate Change Summit, under the headline “The President concludes his successful visit to Scotland after participating in the Climate Change Summit.”
This headline may be appropriate if it was chosen for an opinion article and not for a news report that is supposed to be neutral. The journalist/news editor has no right to judge the visit and deem it successful or unsuccessful, but this should be made by specialists or opinion writers. And it is not permissible to use such wording in a news headline as it may direct readers’ opinion towards a certain direction.
Al-Wafd newspaper, 4 November 2021
Al-Wafd published on the second page, a piece of news that reads: “The Wadi El-Natrun’s mayor is working to regain and restore state property lands”. The piece dealt with the fact that Engineer Mustafa Hamza, head of Wadi El-Natrun City, launched, in cooperation with the competent security authorities, campaigns to retrieve the lands of state property estimated at five acres and a cafeteria, and to seize them in preparation for auctioning them off. The piece concluded: “It is noteworthy that Hamza had been previously subjected to injustice and false allegations for being strict in his decisions and preservation of the state’s dues, but he was later acquitted by court while ordering the closure of his case for not being convicted.”
The previous piece includes many clear professional errors, on top of which is its wording that directs the reader to stand in the side of the head of the city of Wadi El-Natrun without knowing any details or circumstances. The formulation of the news piece portrays engineer Mustafa Hamza as the protector of truth and the defender of state property by showing and that he was subjected to injustice and false accusations, but the report didn’t tell us who accused him in the first place and what kind of allegations and accusations he was subjected to. The journalist just appointed himself as judge and decided to cajole and appease official and the other security leaders in charge of the land restoration campaign, while he completely ignored the most important part of the news, which is the incident itself whose details remained unknown to the reader.
– Al-Masry Al-Youm, 4 November 2021
(International commendation for the success of “liberating the exchange rate” after 5 years), this is a headline of a report published on the newspaper’s sixth page. It covers the statements released by the Media Center of the Council of Ministers, including data and infographics that shed light on the success of the most important steps of the economic reform program citing economic indicators and reports of international institutions, referring to the continuation of the Egyptian pound reaped gains, amid international expectations for its continued strong performance against foreign currencies.
Despite being a fully economic report that includes many figures, percentages, and comparisons regarding the performance of the Egyptian economy in recent years, it was not published in the section devoted to economic news, which may cause confusion to the reader. The report is also limited to covering the official side expressing the Egyptian government’s view or direction. It is considered a mere re-publishing of the Cabinet’s Media Center’s statements published on its official page. The newspaper ignored citing the viewpoints of experts and specialists to add a deeper dimension to the report and present the different points of view or even for the sake of a simplified explanation of economic terms for the ordinary, non-specialist reader. The report also involves loose terminology and vaguely-worded terms such as “the success of the most important steps of the economic reform program according to economic indicators and reports of international institutions”. It didn’t mention what kind of economic indicators or the names of the international institutions that praised the success of the economic reform program.
– Al-Akhbar newspaper, 5 November
The newspaper published on the fourth page a news story about “a rise in the Egyptian recovery indicator” by 3 points, recording 106 points during the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year, which proves the continued recovery of the Egyptian economy.
Such specialized news needs to be explained to the ordinary public, especially since the piece wasn’t published on a page dedicated to economic issues. What does the “Egyptian economic recovery index” mean to the average reader? Most likely he will not understand what is meant by this term.
– Al-Akhbar newspaper, 7 November
Major General Adel Ghadban, Governor of Port Said, confirmed on the third page of “Al-Akhbar” newspaper that East Port Said is one of the best investment areas in the world, given its strategic location, through which 13% of the global trade volume passes. In the same newspaper’s issue, journalist Nabil Al-Tafahni chose a title that “Port Said is the best investment zone in the world.”
It is not the editor’s right to decide what is best and what is worse in order to direct the readers’ opinion towards a certain tendency or direction. Also, the Governor of Port Said didn’t assert, in his statements, that Port Said is the best investment area in the world, but he said that it is one of the best investment areas, and the difference between the two sentences is clear enough. The newspaper also didn’t mention in the headline that this statement was made by the Minister of Port Said, suggesting that this matter is a confirmed fact and not a personal opinion of an official.
– Advertisements in a form of news reports
Egypt’s newspapers continue to publish advertisements in the form of news stories, which is a violation of journalistic honor codes and also constitutes a kind of manipulation and deception against the reader. The following are four examples of advertisements published in the form of news stories in newspapers throughout the past week.
1- Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, issue of 2 November 2021
The newspaper published, on the eighth page devoted to real estate news, an advertisement for a real estate company, as saying: “Founders” achieves sales of more than 7 billion pounds in “Gardenia City” and will launch the second phase before the end of the year.
2- Al-Akhbar newspaper, November 2, 2021
It published a news story that reads: “Ezz Steel, the largest industrial user of natural gas in Egypt, announced that iron prices for the month of November would be fixed at EGP 15,000 per ton, including sales tax, while the rest of the factories followed it in announcing price stability. This piece came on the newspaper’s third page, without mentioning that such a piece is a kind of propaganda for”Ezz Steel”.
3- Al-Wafd newspaper, November 3, 2021
Al-Wafd published a propaganda news item on its sixth page about the launch of the Cairo International Technology Fair. The headline also carries a foreign term without referring to its Arabic meaning, despite the fact that the newspaper is directed primarily to Arabic speakers.
4- Al-Akhbar newspaper, November 4, 2021
On its fifth page, Al-Akhbar published two advertisements in a news form, without making it clear to the reader that it is publishing advertising materials and not press or journalistic ones. The first ads entitled “The President of Sadat City University inaugurates the Sixth International Scientific Conference of the Institute of Environmental Studies and Research at the university under the theme (Towards the Prospects of Sustainable Development)”. The second ads reads: “Al-Ahly Bank of Kuwait-Egypt achieves a rise in net profits to reach 616 million Egyptian pounds during the nine months ending in September 2021.”
Second: Talk shows
* “Akher Al-Nahar” talk show- Tamer Amin- Tuesday 2 November
Tamer said: “No to street vendors in Sheikh Zayed”, a campaign launched by a group of residents who are involved in community affairs. It says that in order to protect your and your children’s health, stay away from street vendors. What is the relation between street vendors and your health? Street vendors, with full respect to them, sell loose and unpackaged goods, under no supervision of the Ministry of Supply or the Ministry of Health. They sell goods brought from unknown sources, only God knows where they got from. One may ask me (so what can street vendors do then?). I’ll say: they can engage in a trustworthy or approved activity.
Tamer violated the code of professional conduct for media performance (Clause X thereof) because he incited against a group of people (street vendors), who represent a large number of citizens whose difficult economic conditions forced them to practice this profession. And despite Tamer pretending to provide a solution for the issue, he neglected the role of the state in preventing the production or importation of products that don’t conform to specifications and holding officials fully responsible. So his presentation lacks the balance stipulated in the Duties section of the Media Honor Charter.
-“Al-Hekayah” program- Amr Adib- episode of Friday 5 November
Amr said: Of course, it is fair to always remember Dr. Hala Zayed with all the best and appreciation when we evaluate the level and the agreements that we have reached and the different types of vaccines we have imported. I don’t know the details of what is happening, but the Minister who was working in this field had exerted very important effort in making a lot of these agreements. So when we talk about this matter, we must remember the effort that this woman have made and cost her a lot of her health. The upcoming days can explain to us what the story is and what the issue is. I do not have any information, but what I know is that this woman had white hands on the vaccine issue.
Despite Amr confirming in more than one place that he has no information or details about what is happening with regard to the Ministry of Health case, and despite the warning by the Public Prosecution not to circulate, publish or broadcast any information regarding the case except through the official statements, Amr volunteered to defend the excluded minister and testify for her through his media platform, in violation of the media code of honor, which stipulates not to comment or express an opinion on cases considered before the judiciary and not to influence public opinion and the parties concerned for or against the accused, witnesses or judges.
– “With Pen and Paper”- Nashaat El-Dihi- episode of Saturday 6 November
Al-Dahi says: Rami Shaath is a Palestinian man. He is the son of Nabil Shaath, one of the members of the Palestinian Authority. I mean, he is not an Egyptian. His mother may be Egyptian, but he is not. He says he is an activist in the field of human rights. I also remember that the French President had previously talked about him because is that his wife’s nationality is French. If he wants to be a human rights activist, or a hero, he can go to his own country. Stay away and don’t bother us.
Nashat didn’t adhere to accuracy or integrity in conveying the information presented to his viewers. Rami Shaath is an Egyptian man and holds Egyptian citizenship. He obtained a ruling by the State Council that he had the right to renew his Egyptian passport after the Egyptian authorities refused to renew it. And his father obtained Egyptian citizenship upon a decision by Gamal Abdel Al-Nasser whom he worked as his advisor, and accordingly, Rami is practicing his role as an Egyptian citizen. Nashat didn’t adhere to the values, morals and norms of society in the media dialogue, as he displayed verbal diminution and humiliation against the activist.
* “Akher Al-Nahar”- Mohamed Al-Baz- episode of Saturday 6 November
Al-Baz says: These two boys are from Alexandria. Why did they book two rooms in a hotel in Mahtet Al-Raml? And then they were found dead in one room in their underwear after they committed suicide and left a message to the world that reads (We were not created for a world that is full of lies, deception and betrayal). The apparent explanation for this incident is that there might be a homosexual relationship between the two young men and they couldn’t bear the society tightening the noose on them.
Al-Baz violated the media honor charter by expressing his opinion on a case that is still being deliberated before the judiciary. Although the Prosecution’s investigations haven’t resulted in any explanation for the circumstances of the two young men’s suicides, the media anchor interpreted the incident according to his personal whims and described the two men as “gay”!! This affects public opinion and the concerned parties in violation of the professional code of conduct. This interpretation also constitutes a stigmatization in a society that doesn’t tolerate homosexuality and may also affect the lives of their relatives.
– “On My Responsibility”- Ahmed Mosa- episode of Sunday 7 November
Mosa said, speaking about Hepatitis C: Until the treatment emerged, the US came with a treatment, the price of a course of which reached 60 or 70 thousand dollars. Our president told them “tell us the story; we want to treat our people”. And the Egyptian state has really taken a big movement in this regard. The president said “We want this treatment. How do you do this?”He negotiated with the company producing this treatment, and the course of the treatment which costs 70,000 has reached now $70 or less.
Mosa misled his viewers with the information he presented regarding the treatment of Hepatitis C. He claimed that the Egyptian government had negotiated with the manufacturer of Hepatitis C treatment until its price was reduced from $70,000 to $70 and neglected the grant that Egypt obtained from the World Bank, share of which allocated for treating Hepatitis C amounted to about 3.5 billion dollars. So Mosa didn’t adhere to accuracy or honesty as he didn’t attribute the information to its original sources, as stipulated in the media honor charter.
Third: News websites
* Mada Masr publishes a news story on November 3, saying:
“They brought teachers and a principal… Students of “Sohag Excellence” suspend the sit-in after promising to solve their problems
Today, students of the “School for Excellence in Science and Technology ” in Sohag governorate suspended their sit-in, which they started last Monday evening, in protest against the shortage of teachers, the poor dormitory situation for female students, and the lack of management, and consequently the failure to start classes at the school, despite the fact that nearly a month has passed since its beginning, as a female student at the school told Mada Masr.
Yasmine, a sophomore student at the secondary school, added that a delegation from the Ministry of Education visited the school today, among its members is Muhammad Farouk, the head of the Outstanding’ Excellence Schools Support Unit in the ministry. The delegation listened to the students’ problems and promised to solve them. Yasmine continued: They brought a number of teachers and a principal, and tomorrow we will attend the school day and know how many teachers have been brought,” confirming that the sit-in has been suspended and that female students have returned to their rooms in the dorms.
* Mada Masr made an exclusive press report as you will not find it on most Egyptian news websites although it is exciting news and deserves a lot of press coverage. The report talks about a sit-in staged by a group of girls at a high school for outstanding students in Upper Egypt. The piece tackled the incident and explained its details in an accurate way, quoting one of the protesting students. But it still lacked balance, as it didn’t introduce any comment from the education officials in the governorate, and only narrated the story according to one of the school students.
– “Cairo24” website publishes, on 5 November, a news story that reads:
Today…UN Human Rights Council holds a special session on Sudan
Today, Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Sudan.
According to what the United Nations announced, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will deliver, at the beginning of the session, a general speech on the humanitarian developments in Sudan.
The website very timidly and tentatively addressed this issue. It didn’t mention any details about the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Sudan. The piece lacked an answer to many basic questions, the most important of which is “why this session is being held?”, “who requested to hold it?”, and what are the issues they will be discussing?”
The issue of Sudan receives wide press coverage in most well-known news websites. So withholding information on this issue doesn’t mean that the public will not be able to have access for it; since they can find it on the other websites or any other means, but it means that this website will lose its credibility because it refrained from publishing important news and details and left more questions for the reader unanswered with adequate information.
* Masrawy publishes, on November 6, an opinion piece in the form of a news piece
Vice President of the State Council: Giving the president broad powers makes the country strong
Mohamed Abdel Wahab Khafagy, Vice President of the State Council, said that a nation that doesn’t live under the constitutional powers granted to the President of the Republic is a lost nation.
He added, during a speech he delivered at the opening of the fifth cultural season of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, on Saturday, at the council’s headquarters in Garden City, under the theme “The ruler’s actions and the danger of infringing upon them”: “I remember that in 2002 the terrorist group filed a case against the President demanding to impose its opinion on one of his competencies.”
He pointed out that constitutions granted the President broad powers to make the state strong, adding that “the weaker his powers are, the weaker the state becomes”, stressing that the president abides by the constitutional provisions.
* Here the journalist confuses between the judicial official’s personal opinion and news statements. This statement, which is made by a legal expert, should have been placed by the journalist within the framework of opinion articles. This publication, which cannot be called a news piece, also lacks balance; as the Vice-President of the State Council expresses his opinion in a seminar without presenting any opposing or dissenting opinion. The journalist just introduced one opinion without looking for other viewpoints that would enrich the discussion and benefits the reader.
* “Mobtada” publishes a long news report on 6 November, saying:
From the Museum of Civilization…Madbouly: The state has taken unprecedented decisions to support tourism
Dr. Mustafa Madbouly also pointed out that many initiatives have been put forward to support this sector with the aim to postpone the collection of any financial benefits. And the state has incurred many losses in order to maintain the jobs of thousands of workers in it, and not to prejudice available the job opportunities, especially In light of the continuing repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
When you read this piece of news, which is a very long report, you will find a lengthy speech by the Prime Minister about the government’s efforts in the field of tourism. The report begins quoting the Prime Minister as describing the government’s efforts as “unprecedented decisions”, which shows the imbalance in the objectivity of the piece; since it gives a lot of space for the official to say what he wants and praise his efforts and decisions without any press review or scrutiny!
The question that comes to mind when reading the headline is “Has the government actually taken unprecedented decisions in the field of tourism? Unfortunately, you will not find an answer from an expert in this report or from the journalist who allocated the piece as propaganda for the government only.
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.