Press council head ‘does not mind’ appointing MB chief editors
Salah Eissa - YOUM7/Ahmed Maarouf

CAIRO: The Secretary General of the Supreme Press Council, Salah Eissa, said that he does not mind Muslim Brotherhood members assuming the position of Editor-in-Chief of local newspapers.

“Cheif editors should not use partisan management in directing newspapers, although they might be affiliated with specific parties,” added Eissa during his interview Sunday on Mehwar TV Channel.

He stated that disputes occurred between some departments and editors-in-chief who were appointed by the Brotherhood under the ruling of the former president Mohamed Morsi, as local newspapers were then directed in a partisan manner.

Following violent attacks following the ouster of Morsi on July 3, the Brotherhood was officially designated as a terrorist group in Egypt on Dec. 25, and in Saudi Arabia in March.

Further, British Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned a review of the Brotherhood’s UK activity earlier this month, after reports suggested that members of the group have moved to London to escape a crackdown in Cairo.

In another context, Eissa discussed the current problems facing intern-journalists and under-graduates seeking experience in newspapers in order to become members of the Press Syndicate. He added, “There are no standards for choosing and training journalists in Egypt.”

Additionally, he explained that journalists spend about five to six years as trainees at newspapers, “Without receiving pay, contracts, membership in the syndicate or job security.”

“Newspapers have to commit to a 6-month training period with bonus for journalists to evaluate their work, and then journalists can either be appointed with a contract or leave,” continued Eissa.

In addition to unsecured work, a major problem facing journalists is the deadly clashes and violent unrest, oftentimes leading to their deaths during coverage.

Most recently, two journalists were injured while covering clashes between security forces and protesting students at Cairo University on April 14, preceded by the death of a female journalist Mayada Ashraf in March.

Ashraf’s death raised controversy over the media’s responsibility in sending reporters to cover clashes without being trained, and accusations have surfaced against security forces for targeting journalists while doing their jobs.

Further, a large number of journalists have been jailed over their alleged affiliations with the Brotherhood, most notably in the case of the Al-Jazeera journalists, who were accused of forming a “cell” and supporting terrorism.

The recent crackdown against journalists has led a number of reporters and photojournalists to refuse covering clashes unless they are provided with protection, contracts, and guarantees that forces will not target them during clashes.

In Reporters Without Borders’ 2014 Press Freedom Index, Egypt ranked 159 out of 180 countries in terms of press safety.

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