It was a coincidence that I started working in journalism at the end of 1979 after jailing and banning from work put an end to my career as a researcher that was said to be promising in the field of contemporary and modern history of Egypt. It was also a coincidence that I have been running the office of one of the biggest newspapers in Arab Gulf countries in Cairo for 30 years. And again, it was a coincidence that I had the ability to decipher the poor handwriting of many big-name writers and revise the articles of tens of journalists whom some of them became TV stars. I used to edit some of those articles and almost go mad of the spelling and grammar mistakes some journalists make, while some others have no journalistic integrity at all. And so, I have been calling upon the journalists’ syndicate to stand to such cultural, political and even ethical illiteracy spread in journalism, to the extent that some of those inefficient so-called journalists who made it to the editor-in-chief position and became popular media anchors are even boasting about this and consider themselves genius despite their complete journalistic illiteracy.
Again, it happened many times that I had many colleagues interested in the union work and who became “professional” in that. I also met many of those hosted by those “professionals” during their preparations for the elections of the syndicate board of trustees or the syndicate head. In such regard, there are many details that I may write about and publish later… according to my point of view of course. I remember when I once disagreed to the unanimity of some Nasserist journalists to elect a certain person for the syndicate head chair, and so, I wrote advocating his opponent and the punishment I had for this was preventing me from writing my column in the Nasserist Al-Arabi newspaper, not to mention the defamation campaigns that attacked me.
My dear colleagues of the syndicate leaders fighting for the journalistic and public freedoms know well all what I know about some other syndicate leaders who are actually diagnosed with that disease of journalistic illiteracy. They also know about others who made illegal use of Hajj and Umra trips, consumer durables, lands, real estates, advertisements, Shiekh al-Fasi and who have normalized relations with the Zionists and enlisted some of their secretaries and cronies as members in the syndicate. Despite all these flagrant breaches of the professional and ethical norms of journalism, the syndicate has not adopted a decisive stance towards any of those. I am even ready to give more details. This is while journalists are going through what we can call a true battle in favor of the journalistic freedoms and enacting both texts and soul of the Egyptian constitution concerning journalism. I do what I do because I believe the best way to guarantee the journalistic freedoms and journalists’ rights is that journalists – through their syndicate and top leaders – should take on the responsibility of assuming their main duties, atop of them is re-training hundreds of journalism-illiterate journalists.
We have to regulate the professional performance of our career so that journalism does not become the back door for stabbing our country in its safety, destiny, cohesion, strength, balance and role played in its geographical circumference and the world. We do not want the journalist to be that doctor ironically said to have publicly declared that he sacrificed the mother and baby lives for the operation to succeed!
I do wonder: when will the journalists’ syndicate start to question some of its members, considering themselves stars in media and political work, about suspicions arising to actual facts regarding their fortunes, projects, connections to media and politics funding sources both inside the country and abroad? There are even facts that they combine between journalism and working for other authorities.
We all stand against any abuse committed by the executive authority over the constitution, even if approved by the law. We are also against any abuse of any kind or degree practiced by any entity that draws us back to the time that led to the dismantling, destruction and terrorism we suffer from right now, not to mention that such abuse is committed against journalism and freedom of expression. For all this, we all have to stand against all what I mentioned above concerning our journalism community affairs.
I know some dear friends who will get angry when they read these lines and I can almost hear them blaming and saying: “this is always you… you always choose the bad timing to express your opinion… all what you say is right but the timing is definitely not right… you should not mention the bad things while we are going through a decisive battle like this”. However, I believe it is the best timing to discuss such things. The battle timing is the most suitable time to correct mistakes, rectify faults and to get rid of intruders. It is not the journalists’ battle alone; it is battle of the whole nation. Our nation is fighting a battle fiercer and more ferocious than all its fights throughout history since the Hyksos, Persian, Greek and Roman invasions and reaching to the British and Israeli occupations.
While the army, police and people are fighting this battle, we cannot let some of us stab the country in the back by writing and publishing misleading information that may attack those fighters and make the public lose trust in the nation’s leaders; those who defend the nation’s independence, civilization, culture and future. And so, the necessity to defend the journalistic rights is directly connected to the necessity to defend the nation.
I have to say what I say as our country is going through great dangers. We cannot stay silent and pretend everything is going fine. As to the timing thing, I totally disagree to this opinion. If we had political stability, economic welfare and high-level security not breached by terrorism or enemies extending from Ankara to Tel Aviv to Doha, I would have stayed silent about the faults of our journalistic community. However, we live in totally different circumstances that necessitate adopting the hard way to correct the whole national course that should include all communities no matter how prestigious or sacred these communities are.
I believe the biggest fight journalists and their syndicate should go through is doing their best to rectify and reform the journalistic community. As to those angry of the timing thing, I ask them: when is that right timing that we never had through more than half a century in the syndicate lifetime? Why has no one dared to start reforming and correcting the course in other times when the syndicate was not going through sacred battles?
This article was published in Almasry alyoum newspaper in July 14, 2015.
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