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News Media Explosion in Egypt

April 3, 2011

There will soon be more newspapers than ever in Cairo as freedom of the press meets freedom to create new political parties.

One of the major consequences of the changes in post-Mubarak Egypt has been freedom of the press and with it the creation of many new newspapers to give voice to the many voices of reform and political ideology. Released from the the restraints of the old regime, not only are existing newspapers suddenly free to report on corruption and wrongdoing, but nearly a dozen new newspapers have been announced.

Many of these new newspapers are being announced by emerging political parties. In a country where most newspapers were expected to voice the position of the state, or of authorized opposition papers, every new political party is likely to want its own media outlet.

Ibrahim Issa, former editor of Al-Dostour who spent two months in prison in 2007 for criticizing Mubarak and his political and business cronies, will return to the journalism scene as editor of a new newspaper called Al-Tahrir. Issa had been fired last ear when the newspaper was bought out by businessman Reda Edwards. The new newspaper is being bankrolled by Ibrahim el Moalem, owner of the Shorouk Group of media companies.

(Al-Dostour employees had already expressed their ire at Issa’s firing earlier by striking and, when Edwards refused to negotiate, launching a news web site titled “The Real Al-Dostour”)

Another famous media figure and target of Mubarak regime ire is also planning to bring out a newspaper: veteran television journalist Hamdi Qandil, who was part of the memorable On TV broadcast that apparently brought down the brief Shafiq government. Along with journalist Abdullah al-Sinawi, a former editorialist with Al-Araby newspaper, he has announced the creation of Al-Horriyya newspaper, whose first issue is scheduled for June. This project is being funded by a group of businessmen led by Mohamed Metwalli. Metwalli last yearbought the iconic Omar Effendi department store, and had reportedly tried and failed over the last few years to buy the newspapers Al-Badeel, El-Fagr and Al-Dostour.

According to a story in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar last week, Al-Horriyya newspaper will also have two sister media: a satellite news channel headed by Hussein Abdel-Ghani, the former director of Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Egypt, a research center, and a continuously updated web site.

Media colleagues are also telling me that plans are underway to create one or two new printing establishments with state of the art presses. One of the minor but lucrative forms of corruption engaged in by the former regime was requiring opposition and independent newspapers to print their newspapers at  the printing house of Al-Ahram or another state press. 

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