MEMRI, the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute, which translates and analyzes Arabic media, has uncovered the latest fascinating development in Cairo.
The Egyptian media — which covers Egypt the way the YES network covers the Yankees — are now apologizing and backtracking from their pro-Mubarak coverage.
As MEMRI tells it, "What began as coverage sympathetic to the regime developed into support for the demonstrators as they gathered momentum." With the fall of Mubarak, and following protests against editorial policy by employees in the government media organizations, the government media has now completely changed direction, and its members are beginning to criticize the previous establishment – even apologizing for their previous pro-Mubarak coverage."
According to MEMRI:
Employees of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat news agency rallied to protest against the pro-Mubarak editorial policy.
Hundreds of Egyptian TV news desk employees demonstrated to demand the resignation of the desk chief, accusing him of corruption.
And employees at the Al-Gomhouriyya daily and its evening paper Al-Masaa, as well as of the Roz Al-Yousuf newspaper, held a protest rally demanding changes in the papers’ editorial boards, new editors, and a revision of the publication policy so that it would "express the demands of the people.
Some 300 journalists from the Al-Ahram institution, reports MEMRI, sought to publish an apology to readers, in the highest-circulated daily Al-Ahram, for their professional conduct during the uprising.
According to the reports, after Abd Al-Mun’im Said, the Al-Ahram board of directors chairman, and Osama Saraya, the editor of the Al-Ahram daily, opposed the initiative, the journalists met and demanded the firing of the entire editorial staff of the Al-Ahram institution and the prosecution of some of its members, claiming that they had misled the readers.
Here’s part of the Al-Ahram apology:
"When the Revolution of the Youth broke out on January 25, at the very first moments Al-Ahram failed to hear the thundering message of change. As happened in many other large and solid Egyptian institutions, an intense ideological dispute broke out, along with an intense conflict regarding the best position to take vis-à-vis this unique and rare moment in the history of the Egyptian nation.
"The drama thus began [to unfold] within Al-Ahram: not a conflict between stability and change, but an intense conflict between the modern outlook that belongs to the new age and a different outlook that clings to the era and the regime that were collapsing and failing. The enlightened and conscientious people at Al-Ahram, just like the other elements [in Egypt] who advocated freedom, justice and democracy, understood that the will of the people would triumph, as indeed happened.
"Thus, influenced by the Revolution of the Youth and by the rallying of the people around it, the lively forces in Al-Ahram exerted pressures and managed to return [the daily] to its true owners – the Egyptian people.
"Today… we extend the necessary apology to the noble Egyptian people for any bias [we showed] in favor of the corrupt regime, and vow that from now on we will always lean towards the legitimate demands of the people, and that Al-Ahram will remain the conscience of this nation.
"We are proud of the pure blood [spilled] by the forces of backwardness and oppression, and ask the families of the martyrs to forgive us. No sacrifice of ours can compare to even a single drop of [the martyrs’] blood. The only words of consolation [we can extend to the families] are that [the martyrs] sacrificed their lives so that this nation could lift up its head and live in dignity."
Just one question for the journalists at Al-Ahram. Yes, you are to be "the conscience of this nation" but does that mean you must "always lean towards the legitimate demands of the people" as opposed to simpy telling the truth? Who are "the people," that morning’s mob?
"The people" is also a third-world euphemism often used by the authoritarian government de jour, which continues to be the Egyptian military, exactly as it has been since 1952. Will Al-Ahram defy them the way they say they should have defied Mubarak?
Hey, Al-Ahram, just tell the story.
I do like, though, the way the staff at Al-Ahram refers to the "noble Egyptian people."
How many Israeli or Jewish journalists would refer to the "noble Jewish people"?
One leftist Jewish reviewer of the Hannah Senesh exhibit at the Jewish Heritage Museum downtown was worried that the exhibit would be too "jingoistic," as if you should or could possibly depict the life of Hannah Senesh while downplaying her love of Zionism and the Jewish people.
Don’t worry, that Jewish reviewer reassured his readers, it wasn’t too pro-Israel.
Thanks, pal. I’m sure people who’d go to a Hannah Senesh exhibit are worried about that.
By the way, that’s the "noble Jewish people," you’re talking about, kid. If you’re not going to be more Jewish the least you can do is be more Egyptian — apologize, and think of your people as "noble."