Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Egyptian Press Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The current gridlock happening between the Editors of Egypt’s national daily newspapers is a reflection of the real crisis of the Egyptian press in general.

In Egypt, there are two types of journalism, none of which represents the country. No objective observer can rely on the Egyptian media to know what’s happening in Egypt or how things are developing.

First off there is the official press. They are established well-known newspapers run by government appointed editors-in-chief. They are given certain privileges and are treated like Egypt’s ruling class. These appointees are confined within the beliefs of those who appointed them. If they criticize, they do so in a subdued manner. Reading the government controlled press, one feels that Egypt is heaven on earth, an ideal utopian society.

The second is Egypt’s opposition press. They suffer from great financial troubles and are deprived of the special perks their government counterparts receive. They also are not a reflection of the status quo in Egypt. Reading opposition periodicals, one thinks Egypt is a deserted ruin void of any positive aspects, caught in big fire, with no hope of reform or change.

Even though the editors of the government sponsored press get special treatment as well as financial and moral incentives, they are more like policemen. They are under threat of losing their position at any time with no prior notice, or at least live in a military-like reality. Even when it comes to retirement age, where exceptions are made for those the government wants to continue.

The absence of an objective media that accurately and cautiously publishes information, and criticizes out of its sense of responsibility is a real problem for Egypt’s readers. Bold headlines about great achievements fill the pages of official newspapers whereas opposition ones are crammed with topics about extreme corruption. In both cases, the victims are objectivity and Egypt’s readers. Egypt is neither limited to great achievements nor to extreme corruption. An equation must be developed to reexamine its reality. The first step may well be to terminate official newspapers and turn them into private corporations.