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UNESCO presented Egypt's media assessment study at seminar on editorial independence in Cairo

By United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
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CAIRO, Egypt, November 17, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- More than 150 representatives of the Egyptian media community and civil society gathered on 13 November in the Al-Ahram Press Foundation for an international seminar on the future of Egypt's state owned media, in particular, and print media, in general. UNESCO's study, Assessment of Media Development in Egypt, was presented to the participants. Editorial independence, best practices and reform were also the main topics of the seminar, attended by the prominent media experts and practitioners from the United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Germany.

The seminar on Media in Transition in Egypt was organized by the UNESCO Cairo Office, the UNIC Cairo Office and Al Ahram Press Foundation, with the support of the Swedish and German Embassies in Egypt. Tarek Shawki, Director of the UNESCO Cairo Office, outlined in his opening speech that, since the arrival of the Arab Spring, UNESCO's work in Egypt has been very much focused on promoting press freedom and media development. UNESCO was the first UN agency to publish in September 2011 a post-revolutionary assessment of media situation in Egypt, based on best practice and internationally recognized standards. The study has been offered as a useful tool for local stakeholders, who are eager to move forward with improvements of media and journalism in Egypt.

Four prominent European journalists (Katherine Viner, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian, UK; Alain Gresh, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Le Monde Diplomatique, France; Christina Juterstroom, former Editor-in-Chief of Dagens Neyheter, Sweden; and Maritta Adam-Tkalec, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Berliner Zeitung, Germany) shared their experiences regarding the models of ownership in their respective newspapers, and its impact on editorial independence and pluralism of print media. Modalities of media in transition in different countries were discussed by the speakers and the audience.

Seminar's participants also focused on several topics that are of concern for Egyptian media, including editorial independence, best newspaper management practices and reform of the state owned print media. Hashem Kasem, an independent publisher, outlined his view on the future of the state owned press in Egypt. Yasser Abdel Aziz, an independent media expert, analyzed today's situation within the state newspapers in Egypt. Ahmed Kamal Abu Al Magd, prominent lawyer and the former Minister of Information of Egypt, wrapped up the seminar with his view on the future of the Egyptian print press.

UNESCO's Cairo Office expects that discussion at Al Ahram will facilitate a debate on how to better achieve balanced and fair reporting, as well as strengthen plurality of media and independence of journalism.