By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: In a decree that many deem as overdue, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announced the appointment of new chairmen and editors-in-chief of state-owned newspapers after securing the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The decree, which comes two days before a planned million man rally in Tahrir Square “to save the revolution,” described the move as a prelude to restructuring the press sector in accordance with the “spirit of change and in light of the important role of the media in supporting the values of freedom, democracy and social justice.”
Notorious for being mouthpieces of the ousted regime, the recent purge left Momtaz El-Qot, editor-in-chief of Akhbar Al-Youm, Abdallah Kamal of Rose Al-Youssef and Osama Saraya of Al-Ahram out of a job.
“This comes as a late response to the demands of the people which is characteristic [of the officials]. They wait until the people are angry and frustrated to respond,” said Abeer El-Saady, former member of the board at the Journalists’ Syndicate, who resigned to call for new elections.
“If this is the rate of response to the demands of the people then I’m not very optimistic. We have to set a clear timetable for everything,” she said.
El-Saady recounted the shameful performance of the state-owned media during the days of the recent popular revolt that toppled the regime. Even though these institutions are financed by tax-payers, she said, they betrayed the people and sided with the old regime and the National Democratic Party.
She recalled how the official Middle East News Agency was the first to spread false propaganda and rumors against demonstrators that they are getting KFC meals by people with foreign agendas.
Refraining from commenting on the new leaderships before getting more information about them, she stressed that they should only head the transitional period after which both chairmen and editors will be elected.
The new chairman of Al-Ahram Organization is Labib Sebaei, the 76-year-old former editor of a monthly youth magazine Al-Shabab, who replaced Abdel Meniem Saeid. The new editor-in-chief is Abdel Azim Hamad, who, one Al-Ahram reporter told Daily News Egypt, is “respectable, acceptable and around whom there is much consensus.”
Alaa Sabet is now heading the evening edition of Al-Ahram, Al-Ahram Al-Mesae.
Akhbar Al-Youm institute has seen the biggest changes with El-Sayed Ibrahim El-Naggar appointed the new editor-in-chief and five new editors taking the helm of its five magazines titles.
Adel Abdel Aziz was chosen as chairman and editor-in-chief of Middle East News Agency (MENA), replacing former chair Abdallah Hassan.
Mohamed Gamal Aldin El-Madoul replaced Karam Gabr as chairman of Rose Al-Youssef, while former editor of the daily paper Abdallah Kamal was replaced by Ibrahim Khalil and Osama Salama took the reins of Rose Al-Youssef magazine.
Helmy El-Nimnim is now chair of Dar Al-Hilal publishing house, while Dar El-Tahrir is now headed by Khaled Anwar Abdel Hamid Bakir.
Al-Gomhuria newspaper, who’s editor-in-chief Mohamed Ali Ibrahim had resigned about a month ago, is now headed by Mahmoud Nafie, while the new editor-in-chief of its evening paper Al-Mesa’ is Gamal Abou Beih.