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Egyptian Media Outlets Regret Supporting Mubarak

Government media in Egypt, which supported Mubarak during revolution, now supports the people. One paper issued an apology this week.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/18/2011, 4:44 AM / Last Update: 2/18/2011, 5:13 AM

For the Egyptian people, their revolution ended with the fall of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. But for the government media in Egypt, the revolution is just beginning now.

According to report released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) this week, the media, which at first supported Mubarak, is now supporting the demonstrators. In fact, now that Mubarak’s regime is over, and following increasing protests by employees in the government media organizations, the government media has now completely changed direction and its members are beginning to criticize Mubarak and even apologizing for their previous pro-Mubarak coverage.

The MEMRI report cited several incidents which led to the change in Egyptian media's coverage of the protests. These included employees of the Egyptian Al-Sharq Al-Awsat news agency who rallied to protest against the pro-Mubarak editorial policy; hundreds of Egyptian TV news desk employees who demonstrated to demand the resignation of the desk chief; employees at the Al-Gomhouriyya daily newspaper and its evening paper Al-Masaa, as well as employees of the Roz Al-Yousuf newspaper, who held a protest rally demanding improved employment conditions, 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.

MEMRI also translated reports in the independent Egyptian daily Al-Mesryoon which said that approximately 300 journalists from the Al-Ahram institution sought to publish an apology to their readers for their professional conduct during the uprising. The report said that the Al-Ahram board of directors chairman and the editor of the Al-Ahram daily newspaper opposed the initiative, at which point 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.

Earlier this week, despite the previous reluctance by the editor, an apology was published in an editorial in the Al-Ahram newspaper:

“At critical junctures in the history of peoples, some lose their balance, their [clarity of] vision, and their [powers of] reasoning. 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 editorial goes on to say: “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.”

MEMRI said that the pressure by the newspaper's employees is what ulitmately led to the apology.