Although Egypt was ranked 116th in the world for freedom of press under Mubarak’s regime, since the resignation of the ex-president and the takeover by SCAF, its ranking in the index has fallen down 39 places. The country carries a history of press restriction. When I was given my first television program in the 50s I was almost cancelled by the censors for my purported disregard in mentioning news of President Nasser at the end of my program rather than the beginning.
The new democracy will have to deal with a number of laws and restrictions currently on the books allowing state control and work to end the ministry of information’s unfortunate privilege of being the “place where the phrase ‘margin of freedom’ was invented.” It will also have to modernize its approach to press and media, and what constituted media, in order to respond to the changes seen by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and, more broadly, the democratization of technology that allows citizen journalists to cheaply purchase cameras, microphones, and internet access and publish important reports on internet blogs, personal sites, or otherwise.
In spite of the challenges facing the Egyptian people, outside funding of $200 million from both the Egyptian diaspora and non-Egyptians has already been injected into the media scene. With only 27 channels, this could have a huge effect. Activist ideals have surely inspired much commitment to truth in journalism. “The revolution will win in the end, it will ultimately win, it will inevitably win.”Hamdi Kandeel