* Dostor & Watan, government propaganda… Mada Masr, a genuine report, Masrawy, a one-party narration “News websites“
* “Al-Ahram”, confusing media with advertising… “Al-Shorouk”, promoting false information “Print media“
* “On My Responsibilty”, propaganda and lack of impartiality, “Akher Al-Nahar”, absence of the other opinion “Talk shows”
First: News websites
1- “Al-Dostor” website publishes on 16 November a news story that reads:
After the Central Bank’s decision, how did women gain a place in the Sisi era?
It is no secret that women have gained a great status during the era of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, due to the laws and measures taken by the government over the past years to improve the status of women and preserve their rights.
During that period, laws and legislations that benefit and support women were launched, and this has recently become tangible for many state institutions and for women themselves. And attempts to reach a good status for women are still continuing.
In line with that, MP Solaf Darwish, Under-Secretary of the Manpower Committee in the House of Representatives, commended the decision of Tarek Amer, Governor of the Central Bank to obligate banks to represent women on boards of directors, with at least two members, deeming it “a victory for Egyptian women and a complement to their rights in society.”
This publication cannot be considered a piece of news; as it is clear from the headline that it is propaganda or a paid advertisement. The journalist intervenes in the story by giving his opinion, and putting a question to the readers that he tacitly answered when he said “It is no secret that women have gained a great position, turning himself into a representative of propaganda and promotion. He could have listed the government’s support for women and left the reader to judge themselves, but he lost his impartiality and the news story lost its objectivity as a result. The funny thing is that the journalist says “in line with this”, then he continues to confirm his aim of propaganda by citing an opinion that supports what he is saying. If he wanted to create real journalism, he had to bring someone who could evaluate the matter and the progress achieved in the field of fairness to Egyptian women.
2- Al-Watan website publishes a news story on November 17 saying:
“Health Ministry: Egypt is the only country that has all kinds of approved coronavirus vaccines
Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population, said that the Ministry of Health has a strategy that depends on expanding the distribution of coronavirus vaccines, pointing out that there are vaccination centers in gathering places such as metro and train stations, malls and government departments that witness a strong turnout, and there is also a stable supply chain in Covid-19 vaccines.
Abdel Ghaffar added, in televised statements, that Egypt is the only country in the world that has all types of approved coronavirus vaccines, in addition to a production plant in VACSERA, stressing at the same time that clinical trials for the Egyptian vaccine have begun on volunteers.
* The government official has the right to say what he likes, but the role of journalism is to review and verify what the official says but this report didn’t do that. It just quoted the health official as saying that “Egypt is the only country in the world that has all kinds of coronavirus vaccines”. Also, when you read this report, you feel that Egypt has vaccinated the majority of citizens. Doesn’t that need scrutiny from the journalist? The news piece indeed lacks independent information about the progress in providing vaccines to citizens.
3- “Cairo24” website publishes on 17 November a news report that says:
In its fourth edition, a parliamentarian reveals the importance of the World Youth Forum
MP Maysa Atwa, a member of the House of Representatives from the Republican People’s Party, praised the return of the World Youth Forum in its fourth edition in Sharm El-Sheikh in South Sinai, under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, stressing that its return confirms that the city of peace (Sharm Al-Sheikh) has restored its status as the capital of Egyptian tourism and an important destination for tourists.
Maysa Atwa pointed out, during a statement, to the achievements of the World Youth Forum in the past three editions from the city of peace Sharm El-Sheikh, adding that the biggest evidence of this is the keenness of a large number of the world’s youth to attend and participate in the forum every year, given the discussion of many issues and topics that recently arouse public opinion.”
From the report’s headline, we can know that it is confusing opinions with information for the sake of promotion and propaganda, as you read “reveals the importance of the World Youth Forum”. Then when you move on, you find that the piece is primarily an opinion of a parliamentarian. But since the journalist decided to publish opinions, he had to look for an opposing opinion; as people cannot agree all on one thing except in this type of non-neutral and dependent journalism.
The piece also says: “The parliamentarian referred to the achievements of the World Youth Forum” and when you scrutinize the report, you don’t find any achievement mentioned! And this makes the piece lose its objectivity as it is devoid of logical information, and even the opinion that it includes is not supported by evidence.
4- “Mobtada” website publishes on 19 November a report that says:
In Pictures – Tourism in the Sisi era… Non-stop inaugurations and discoveries that stunned the world
“Egypt has always been dazzling and gleaming, but in the past years it has become more dazzling”; given the national tourism projects that have drawn the world’s attention, and restored tourism to its activity after years of stagnation.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s interest in the ancestral civilization made the Ministry of Tourism work day and night to develop archaeological monuments, made new discoveries, establish other landmarks, and organize major celebrations, in line with the vision of the New Republic.
This report may fall under opinion articles. It is not certainly an informational press report and its headline clearly expresses a personal point of view and a clear bias. Although the report entails information that can actually indicate great progress in the field of tourism, the journalist didn’t leave the reader to judge themselves without trying to interfere in it with his own opinion and judgment. Thus, the report turned into propaganda and promotion that negatively affected its balance and objectivity. The journalist could have brought a number of tourism and antiquities experts to list the achievement without interfering in the report and made it lose its impartiality.
5- Mada Masr publishes, on 21 November, a news story that says:
“Bad weather hits Egypt’s governorates… Al-Arish is drowning in an inch of water, the city’s head attacking critics: They relish in gloating.
Pools of water that have accumulated and covered the streets and squares which were inaugurated and developed months ago at a value of 35 million pounds. Drainage networks have failed to perform their duties (in draining rainwater) in the first test they were exposed to after their inauguration.
The city residents expressed their anger on social media at the poor infrastructure, while others mocked pictures of deep water ponds by adding sharks and penguins in the middle of the streets in such pictures using photo-editing programs.
Executive officials in the governorate didn’t show up until two days after the situation deteriorated. The governorate’s Public Relations Office published a statement, yesterday, showing governor Major General Muhammad Abdul-Fadil Shousha’s follow up to the operations of rain drainage and suctioning from the streets, accompanied by the head of the city council, Major General Maged Muhammad, who published a statement on his page indicating that a malfunction in the sewage station caused the accumulation of water and the formation of puddles.
* When you read this report, you may think that the journalist is interfering with his opinion in it, especially when he put it “water drainage systems failed” making a judgment of failure. But in fact, this is one of the best types of journalistic reports that monitors an incident and explains it to the readers its reasons and consequences. It may give it a description, but on the condition that there is clear evidence to what the journalist says, and this is clearly evident in the journalist’s narration of the news story. The report moved on depicting the reaction of the person who is responsible for the incident, and this is the role of real journalism. The journalist didn’t content himself to quoting the officials’ statements, otherwise, he turns into a parrot, but he commented on them and gave readers a full and clear picture of what happened, linking it to the piece of information that “ponds of water covering the streets and squares, which were opened and developed several months ago at a cost of 35 million months pounds”.
6- Masrawy website publishes on 21 November a report that reads:
“Major General Ahmed Said Arafa, head of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Company in North and South Sinai, said that the maximum degree of preparedness in South Sinai governorate has been raised, to face the wave of bad weather that is currently striking the country.
He stressed that the situation is under control, and all water stations throughout South Sinai are in good condition and are working with the utmost levels of readiness. He added that generators for electric power and lifting units are available in conjunction with the follow-up of the procedures for occupational safety and health during work.
* It is clear here that the journalist relied on just one story, quoting the official as confirming that everything is under control and there is nothing unusual with the rain falling in South Sinai. The official’s remarks may be true, but there is no other party to confirm or deny this information which makes the report completely devoid of the principle of balance, unlike Mada Masr’s report that brings and cites all parties to cover the incident.
Second: Print media
* “Al-Akhbar”, issue of 16 November, Page 14, article “This is Egypt” by Karam Gabr
Karm Gabr, head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, writes about the media’s handling of children’s issues. He emphasized that “this matter requires the need to diversify sources of information while dealing with children’s issues…”
It is strange that the writer demands the diversity of sources of information although he is the head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, which is entrusted, for years, with drafting the law on the circulation of information stipulated in the Constitution in Article 68, which is still a missing right!
It is as if the writer thinks that his neglect of his role in preparing an important law stipulated by the Constitution is absent from the public and readers.
* “Al-Ahram”, issue of 18 November 2021, Page 5
The newspaper published a piece of news headlined” IDSC: The government achieves social protection for the most vulnerable groups”
This piece cited a publication issued by the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) and deals with what he called the “health, development and education programs and initiatives”.
It concluded: “These initiatives, along with the efforts exerted by the Egyptian government, have succeeded in achieving social justice, sustainable development, and protecting the poor and low-income from the consequences of the economic reforms taken by the government.”
This piece involves false and misleading propaganda. The editor didn’t care about the accuracy of publishing a baseless piece of information, claiming that the government has fulfilled such an important and massive role “achieving social protection for the poor”.
* “Al-Shorouk”, issue of Sunday 21 November, Page 2
A report entitled: “The Cabinet: The New Republic embarks on the world of digital transformation…
The government: The landline internet speed has been increased more than 7 times in last October”
The piece of news has been repeated in most newspapers issued on this day, and this is considered part of propaganda and unreal news; because Internet users are not feeling this alleged increase in the speed and their mere ambition for it is to be stable and not drop or fall back.
* “Al-Ahram” newspaper, issue of Sunday 21 November, page 14
The newspaper published an advertisement in the form of a news report under the headline (Record results for the Commercial International Bank – Egypt within 9 months)
“Al-Ahram” mixed advertisement with media and news reports, a mistake that many newspapers have made by advertising and promoting agencies or companies without indicating that it is an ad, in flagrant violation of the journalists’ codes of honor.
* “Al-Wafd” newspaper, issue of 22 November, page 1
The newspaper published a news story in its front page with the headline “Egypt welcomes the new political agreement signed in Sudan between Al-Burhan and Interim prime minister”
The first-page main headline reads: “This comes as thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of the capital Khartoum, while Sudanese civil society organizations and entities had signed- in the Friendship Hall in Khartoum- the Civil Charter, which comes as part of a civil initiative to support the democratic transition in Sudan.”
We quoted the conclusion of the news piece as saying that “thousands of people took to the streets for demonstrations”, but the newspaper didn’t mention the reasons or demands of the demonstrations while it skipped to another topic!
“Al-Wafd” has followed the path of the newspapers that are commending the coup in Sudan to the extent that it claims the coup council is the way to democratic transition.
Third: Talk shows
* “On My Responsibility” TV program- Ahmed Mosa- episode of Tuesday 16 November
Mosa said: “I’m thanking all parliamentary deputies who rejected this article and deemed it invalid, and this means that it hinders the work of the media and journalists. It is not possible in the era of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to clampdown on anyone in this field at all. To all MPs who confronted such an article, thank you. From the beginning, they said (No, this article is dangerous…this article allows for the imprisonment of people and journalists…this article should be deleted), and when the all articles were introduced in the parliament, this specific article was rejected.
Mosa’s remarks came at a time when many journalists are languishing behind bars on publishing charges, while exceeding their legal pretrial detention period and being rotated /added to new other cases. Ironically, Mosa’s remarks also came on the night of the sentencing of journalists Hisham Fouad and Hossam Moanes to 4 years in prison for publishing false news. This means that the media anchor didn’t adhere to the principles of honesty, integrity and objectivity in conveying information to his viewers and sought to mislead them in violation of the media honor charter.
* “Akher Al-Nahar”- Tamer Amin- episode of Wednesday 17 November
Tamer said: “Today, the House of Representatives decided to grant powers of judicial control to the artistic syndicate unions. This story has stirred controversy. Some people said that this weapon may be used to restrict creativity, but on the other hand, others deemed it a very important step; to grant these unions a weapon to fight corruption, depravity and decadence. Today, we are surprised that the Musicians’ Union is coming up with a decision to prevent some (artists) from singing. In any case, creativity has a very large space, but it must have a ceiling which is law and responsibility.
Although Tamer pointed out that there are two opposing views with regard to this issue, he contented himself with presenting only one of them and turned a blind eye to the other opinion. He interviewed, via phone, a member of the Musicians’ Union board to defend the ban and excessively supported the guest’s position praising the union’s decision, which infringes on people’s opinions and choices, while refraining from discussing the other opinion opposing the decision. Tamer’s coverage, hence, lacks objectivity, balance and the presentation of different points of view in accordance with what was stipulated in the media honor code and the code of professional conduct for media performance.
* “Hadith Al-Qahera”- Ibrahim Eissa- episode of Thursday, 18 November
Ibrahim said: Let me go to the Rule of Law Index 2021 which is launched by the World Justice Project, an approved and accredited body affiliated with the World Bank. This report measures how the rule of law and justice is experienced and perceived in 139 countries around the globe according to certain criteria. We need to know where Egypt stands in relation to the rule of law and how it is perceived in the eye of the entity that gives us grants. The report is based on the four universal principles of the rule of law, which are: accountability, just law, open government, and neutral and accessible justice. Get ready for a surprise: Egypt ranked 136 out of 139 countries, meaning that it is among the 10 worst countries on the rule of law. This is supposed to be a focus of attention and scrutiny by the state. It should be summoning those responsible to hold them accountable and question them why we have reached this situation!
Contrary to what we notice in ANHRI’s previous newsletters regarding media workers dishonestly interpreting foreign/international reports on Egypt to deliberately mislead the public about how the world perceive our country- by trying to portray this view in only a positive way that doesn’t entail any negative comments, Ibrahim Eissa is keen to convey the image in an objective way, considering the fact that his honest comment on the Rule of Law index came in the wake of the exceptional prison sentences handed down against human rights defenders and researchers held over opinion cases. Eissa asserted that there is a contradiction between the state’s remarks, in which it claims it supports human rights, and the practices it carries out on the ground and its repression of freedoms. He also called on the state to admit and acknowledge such contradiction. Thus, Eissa adhered in this part of the episode to the principles of accuracy and honesty in the information he conveyed to his views as stipulated in the Media Honor Charter.
* “Pen and Paper”- Nashat El-Dihi- episode of Saturday 20 November
Nashat said: Our internet speed has increased 7 times doubling the rate of increase on Earth. In 2019 it was 6.5 megabytes per second but now it has reached 45.9. Imagine your internet speed has increased 7 times in one year. It is a very important figure that people should really be concerned about, especially those who have slow internet speed and always complain that the internet is slow, but now it is not.
The speed of the home Internet in Egypt doesn’t exceed 20 megabytes at best, and this speed is usually less than the ratio contracted on paper with internet service providers, which may range in the high packages between 30 and 40 megabytes, but the actual speed doesn’t exceed 20 megabytes in case the wires used are fiber. But as for the copper wires, which are still present in some areas, the internet service is not provided with a speed that exceeds 15 megabytes. Accordingly, Al-Dehi didn’t adhere to the principles of accuracy, honesty and integrity in the information he conveyed to his viewers as stipulated in the media honor charter.
* “On My Responsibility”- Ahmed Mosa- episode of Saturday 20 November
Mosa said: Captain Khatib, of course, made long and very strong tours in many places, including meetings with the General Assembly of Al-Ahly Club to review his electoral program. Captain Khatib is taking it seriously, in the true sense of the word, because no one can guarantee elections. He is making many election rounds and tours to explain to people his electoral program as if he hadn’t run for elections before. He talks to people and answers their questions. He takes it seriously.
Mosa exploited the media platform in which he works in electoral campaigning for a sporting club without a separating line that indicates whether this part of the episode is dedicated for media content or a paid advertisement, in a violation of the media honor charter, which provides for explicit distinction and separation between media materials and advertising materials, along with the code of professional conduct for media performance, which stipulates not to confuse news reports with advertisement in all its forms and that the lines between them should be quite clear to the audience.
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.