By Edward Webb (auth.)
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Extra resources for Media in Egypt and Tunisia: From Control to Transition?
Editors always made sure reporters sought the official version of a story, even if the relevant government entity didn’t always bother to respond, particularly on issues such as human rights. In the absence of a government response, they could get someone from the state-owned Ahram Center for Politcal and Security Studies to comment. “We could write everything, along with the official denial” (interviews, January/February 2012). ” For instance, he would always read Shukrallah’s column before publication.
The launch was delayed in order to negotiate editorial policy, including a critical question—permission to not publish Mubarak’s picture on the front page every week, unlike the state-owned Arabic papers, which had to feature the president on the front page daily. Hani Shukrallah, who worked closely with Guindy at the Weekly and succeeded him as editor, continued the tradition of more open English-language reporting and commentary at Ahram Online. In the private sector, Egypt Independent got away with more than its Arabic stablemate, Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The state-owned newspapers had more latitude in this area. For example, Alia’ Hamid of Al-Shorouk described to me her earlier experiences working in the economics section of the Middle East News Agency. She was trained not to write about contentious issues in the budget, such as low allocations for education. She remembered attending a lecture about gas subsidies in 2006 with a senior colleague, in which the lecturer advocated ending subsidies, at least for industry. They wrote it up, but that part wasn’t published.