Media specialists call for media coverage enhancement and adopting journalistic code of ethics

April 10th, 2012 by Editor

On April 9, 2012, 10 am, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), held an expanded workshop entitled “Media Coverage Monitoring and Enhancement during the Democratic Transitional Phase”, in Safir Hotel, Dokki, Giza.

The workshop came in the framework of “Media Observation during the Democratic Transformation Phase in Egypt” project. The workshop covered the roles of the Supreme Council for Armed Forces, Judiciary and Political Parties, during the parliamentary electoral process in Egypt.

The project team issued six monthly reports in addition to the final qualitative and quantitative analysis report on observing the media coverage of the political affairs in the last seven months, which was distributed among the participants of the workshop. The reports included qualitative and quantitative analysis of a sample of media channels including Al Ahram, Al Akhbar, Al Masry Al Youm, Al Shorouk and Al Wafd newspapers in addition to Al Youm Al Sabea, Masrawy, Al badel and Al Ahram Gate websites.

The workshop was aimed at discussing and recognizing the negative and positive aspects of the media coverage during the democratic transformation era, in attendance of journalists and media specialists, in order to enhance the Egyptian media performance and achieve the principals of neutrality and transparency of the media coverage.

Mr. Ahmed Abdel Hafez, the vice president of EOHR, emphasized on the importance of media within the political atmosphere, especially during the democratic transformation era. Media in Egypt used to adopt the attitudes of the ruling regime for many years, which leaded to losing credibility. So, EOHR and ANHRI went on the abovementioned project in order to enhance the Egyptian media coverage and build trust between media and the Egyptian people.

Ms. Rawda Ahmed, the deputy executive director of ANHRI, stated that the freedom of expression is one of the urgent requirements of the revolutionists. ANHRI worked on enhancement of the freedom of expression in Egypt for many years through drafting a new criminal law in order to remove the articles that restrict the freedom of expression.

Within the first session, headed by Dr. Laila Abdel Maged, former dean of the Faculty of Media, Cairo University, Dr. Laila provided the attendees of the workshop with an idea about the history of the Egyptian media. She stated that the Egyptian media coverage started gaining quality starting 1954, 2 years after the Egyptian revolution of 1952. She added that the Egyptian media after the Egyptian revolution of the 25th of January, 2011, faced many problems; the national media channels are all directed by the ruling generals. The problems include not only being the media channels and newspapers owned by the government, but also absence of the freedom of access to public information code.

Emad Al Din Hussein, the editor in chief of Al Shorouk Newspaper, stated that the governmental media channels and newspapers are now exactly as they were during Mubarak regime era. The newspapers talks about Dr. Al Katatny, exactly like Dr. Fathi Soror. He stated also that the private media channels and newspapers express the vision of the owners also, exactly like the governmental media channels.

Dr. Magda Moris, deputy editor in chief of Al Gomhoria Newspaper, affirmed that the Egyptian government for many years deprived media specialists from access to public information. The same scenario continued after the Egyptian revolution of January 25th. Those public figures and senior governmental officers, who provided media specialists with information, were taken to accountability before and after the Egyptian revolution of January 25th.

During the second session of the workshop, Essam Sheha, attorney at law, political activists, said that the Egyptian media provided the Egyptian people with distorted images of what was going on during the greatest Egyptian uprising in 2011. No media channels provide information about the trial of Safwat Al Sherif and fathi Soror. Only the Supreme Council for Armed Forces and the Islamists are heavily talked about, by the Egyptian governmental and private media.

Essam Al Din Hassan, senior researcher for Cairo Center for Human Rights’ Studies, stated that some media channels provide different points of views and the others cover the events only without any comments. The mission is different from a media channel to another.

Khaled Salah, editor in chief of Al Youm Al Saba Newspaper, said that when a newspaper takes about one group, the newspaper in that case would be considered not neutral because of covering news of one group of the Egyptian people, although the concerned group is the only group that was involved in certain events. When the newspaper talked about the Christian pilgrimage to Palestine, many groups said that the newspaper supports the Egyptian Christians. The groups that are involved in current events are heavily covered by media, this is not a defect in the coverage; it cannot be taken as support.

During the last session, the media specialist Rola Kharsa stated that the media specialists in the European communities and the United States always promote and enhance their production, but nothing like this happens in Egypt. The indicator of media production success in Egypt, talk show for example, is linked to the amount of advertisings that guarantees the funds for the production. She added that the Egyptian media should be enhanced after the revolution in order to be fair and neutral; these advantages cannot be generated automatically after a revolution.

Tarek Al Shami, the director of Al Hurra Satellite Channel, stated that media development and enhancement will take some time. The self-enhancement and adopting the principals of fairness and transparency are very important for development of the Egyptian media after the revolution, but using the latest reached media technologies and techniques is significant also.

Dr. Farida Al Nakkash, editor in chief of Al Ahali Newspaper, emphasized on the importance of the media specialists’ professionalism and using the latest reached media technologies and techniques. Dr. Farida called for cancelling the governmental control or even supervision on the Egyptian national and private media channels and newspapers in order to guarantee transparency and fairness of the media coverage. Media should not cover only the governmental and business news, the situation of the marginalized Egyptian people after the greatest revolution should be included in the media coverage.

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