MDI Brings Egyptian Media Experts to London

Published: 19 August 2013

Region: UK, Egypt

frontlineclub2Influential Egyptian media experts visited London for a study tour and a conference to discuss the role of media in Egypt today, responsible journalism, as well as the legal, ethical and financial reasons for inclusive reporting.

The two-day tour ‘Inclusive Media for Inclusive Societies’ took place on 15th and 16th of August and it was organised by the Media Diversity Institute.

Debates like the one at the Frontline Club, were organised to discuss  the ability of the Egyptian media to provide an inclusive debate on the issues relevant to all Egyptians.

frontline with ahmedEgyptian experts such as Ayman Al Sayad – Weghat Nazar; Ahmed Zain –Misr Al Arabi; Hossam El-SokkareyMeSocial.Me and former head of BBC Arabic and Yahoo! in MENA and Shahira Sallam, scriptwriter, provided a detailed picture of the current situation in the country.

Al Sayad stated that “there is a division that is turning into a vicious circle. Media polarisation and society polarisation.”He remarked that “the only way to get media to be inclusive is to have media that has no affiliation to any party in the country”.

Naomi Sakr, professor of Media Policy at University of Westminster, participated in the discussion and pointed out that “the way to include opinions from different sides is not well embedded in the Egyptian media. If you repress one side there is no way you can reach a consensus.”

During the tour, the Egyptian media makers had the opportunity to visit BBC, The Guardian and Channel 4 and discuss the role of media and the challenges for inclusive journalism with the editors of some of the biggest UK media outlets.

El-Sokkarey gathered some ideas from the meetings that he founduseful and that he could implement in Egypt where, as he explained, more interaction with the audience is needed.  “Social media are not censored so it gives better overview of the sentiment of the people and their reactions”, said El-Sokkarey.

Former head of the BBC Arabic views on role of social media in Egypt were discussed also during the final event within the tour  organised by MDI. That was the debate named “The Unfolding crisis” at Frontline Club. .

frontlineclub1The Egyptian media makers addressed an audience of more of 100 people and discussed the current crisis, the role of the media and the prospects for peaceful change.

Have the events of August 14th pushed Egypt further from democracy and  how  the Egyptian and International media are covering the events in the current crisis? is the media helping to foster division or cohesion? These were some of the questions raised during the debate at the Frontline Club in London.

Al Sayad said that “there is no free press under military rule”, but he also made a point asking how long the current Egyptian regime will stay in power.

“The truth is in diversity and plurality”, said Al Sayad.

Zain emphasised the need for the Egyptian journalists to be trained, as he said, in two basic fields. “They need to be trained on human rights and on professional values”.

The whole debate can be seen here.

“Inclusive Media for Inclusive Society” is one of many other activities that MDI organised as part of the project “Inclusive Parliament: Building citizens’ participation in the political process in Egypt through better media, parliamentary and civil society interaction”, and funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)