Listening Post

Egypt's media: Marching in step?

We examine why most of the Egyptian media are lining up behind the military-backed government.

Last updated: 09 Nov 2013 14:50
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When the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi appeared on Egyptian state TV the day before his trial began on November 4, it was the first time he had been seen in four months. His day in court was as tightly-orchestrated media as the security surrounding him.

If this is going to be a real, a genuine democratic transition [in Egypt], there needs to be a free media and this can only happen if journalists themselves say no to censorship and take a stand. Without that happening I think we will lose it and the culture of fear will return.

Shahira Amin, a former TV host, Nile TV

Since the military coup in July, Egypt's media has been in lock step with the march of Egypt's military masters. Morsi was labelled "hysterical" by the press - both state-owned and private - for asserting that he, as Egypt's legitimate president, could not be tried by the court. 

His refusal to wear a prison gown even invited unfavourable comparisons with his predecessor Hosni Mubarak who had assented to the all-white garment. It seems not all deposed presidents are equal in the eyes of Egyptian journalists.

And spare a thought for Bassem Youssef, Egypt's answer to Jon Stewart. His tireless and wildly popular satirical take on post-Tahrir politics was a major part of the private media’s pushback against Muslim Brotherhood efforts to Ikhwanise the public discourse. It seems that his light-hearted critique of the Sisi-mania was no laughing matter for his network, CBC, which has now suspended Youssef’s show.

To discuss the new dynamics of the Egyptian media we speak with Shahira Amin, a former host on Nile TV; Marwa Maziad, a columnist for Al-Masry al-Youm; Ursula Lindsey from the 'The Arabist' website; and Adel Iskandar, a media scholar at Georgetown University.

Our Newsbytes this week: Kenya's president is rethinking a new media that has had journalists there crying foul; Sri Lanka expels two Australian press freedom activists ahead of a major Commonwealth jamboree; and France mourns two journalists murdered in Mali while the hunt for their killers continues.

This week's feature takes us to Israel where the revolving door between journalism and politics is spinning ever faster, with most of the movement in one direction - from the media into positions of power. It is a trend that goes back to the founder of political Zionism, former journalist Theodore Herzel, and continues into the present day with both Yair Lapid and Shelly Yachimovich leading political parties. Listening Post's Flo Phillips examines the implications.

Our web video of the week dives deep beneath the streets of New York where subway conductors are duty-bound to point at special signboards at every stop. Yosef Lerner’s New York Subway Signs Experiment re-purposes this quirk of the job to provide some light relief for those subterranean blues.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

Click here for more Listening Post.


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