Controlling the Media in Egypt Term Paper

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Media Control in Egypt

The media in Egypt is much more controlled than in many other countries, including the United States. That control began with President Gamal Abdel Nasser, moved through Anwar Sadat, and then on to Hosni Mubarak. During that time, the television and newspapers were strictly controlled, and only what the president wanted people to see was placed in them. There is significant evidence that the control of the media in Egypt was done largely to oppress the people, and to make sure they were only hearing and seeing what the government wanted them to hear and see. Social, political, and economic factors are all significant in the control of the Egyptian media, which many believe should be uncontrolled and independent. That would allow it to provide actual, factual information, instead of only what the government agreed that the people were allowed to know.

Introduction

The Egyptian media is an important facet of life in that country, and worth discussing on a number of levels. It is largely controlled by the government, which can leave the Egyptian people wondering whether what they are being told is accurate, or whether it is tailored to provide them only what the government thinks they should hear (Shuman). This has led to arguments that the government is protecting them, and has also led to the opinion that the media should be open and independent, allowing the people to decide how they really feel about all of the most important issues that are facing their country today.

Additionally, there is a great deal of influence in both Egypt and the rest of the Arab world that comes through Egyptian media, as there is a very large audience (PressTV). Some government control has been recently lifted, and that has increased the number of people who want to watch and listen to Egyptian media to get unbiased information they may not be able to receive in their home countries. Despite this, there is still a high level of governmental control over the Egyptian media, most prominently by the military (PressTV).

The Controlled Media in Egypt

The media in Egypt has generally always been under the control of the government, and many journalists state that the army and the military are really the ones who have control over what the media produces and puts out to the citizens (PressTV). Control of the media has intensified during the terms of some presidents, and has been relaxed a bit under others. That is to be expected, and something that makes sense based on the different people and personalities that have ruled Egypt in the last few decades. However, the changes back and forth have sometimes made things confusing when considering how much control is being seen in the media and whether citizens should believe what they see and hear.

Because of the idea that the media is controlled, many in the country believe that the military is using the media as its mouthpiece (PressTV). By doing that, it is able to provide high levels of information about the progress of the country, but that information is only what the military wants people to know. Any setbacks or other serious issues are generally swept under the rug and avoided, because the media is either not told of them, or specifically told to suppress or "spin" them when it is providing information to the masses (PressTV). While it was generally believed that the president and those around him was the one who had control over the media, journalists who have spoken out have insisted this is not the case, and that is completely the military that holds media control (PressTV).

Historical Background

The historical background of media control in Egypt goes back a number of decades. Since 1960, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Egyptian press, the government has been directly involved in distributing information to the people of Egypt (Amin). The press was nationalized to bring it under government control, so that Abdel Nasser could focus on the dissemination of only the information he deemed important for the country (Amin). When the country changed hands and Anwar Sadat became president, he kept control of the press, and adopted the ideas that Abdel Nasser had used (Amin).

After Sadat came Hosni Mubarak, who decided not to make any changes to the way things were being done. He had controlling shares in the three main daily newspapers in Egypt, and also had control or at least partial control over many other media outlets, as well (Amin). The main focus was on the protection of information, so that the country and its people could be "steered" in the direction the government wanted them to go. The media control was eventually relaxed, but re-tightened after the military took control over it (Amin).

Variables: Major Factors

There are three major factors, or variables, that affected -- and, in turn, are affected by -- the media control in Egypt. In order to understand how the media control benefits the country, and how it causes more problems than benefits, all three of these issues must be addressed and discussed. Not only are they all important, they also tie together and intertwine, so it is important to analyze them all together. Only looking at one or two of the issues will not really provide the needed insight, because it would mean overlooking at least one other issue that is part of the situation. These factors are:

Social Situations -- the social issues of the day are addressed in the media in a number of ways. Most frequently, however, social issues are pushed aside for military issues, and the information presented to the public is either downplayed (if it is uncomplimentary) or played up (if it will cause the military to look stronger) (Elmasry). In this way, the socialization of the Egyptian people revolves mostly around the military, and is being steered toward seeing the military as protectors and saviors, no matter what undertaking they are involved in at the time of the media's reporting (Elmasry).

Political Situations -- political tensions in Egypt are high, and they have been high for decades (Egypt). This is not a surprise to the citizens, but the ways in which these tensions are presented and how they are (or are not) being resolved are very important considerations. In short, the government and the military, with their control over the media, can make it appear that there are more problems than are actually occurring (PressTV). Conversely, they can make it appear that there are fewer problems, and that the citizens have less to worry about than what is actually the case. Either way, the political problems of the country are not being accurately represented by the media.

Economic Situations -- the media also has a role in the economy of Egypt. People who feel safe and stable tend to spend more money than those who do not feel as though they are safe and protected. If their government (or their military) can make it appear that the country is healthy and strong, the citizens of that country are going to spend money on a higher level. That can produce revenue that will help fund the military, so it would make sense for the military to work toward making it appear as though the country is doing well and there is far less unrest and related problems than are actually occurring (Shukri). On the other side of the coin, though, it can be beneficial for citizens to think that their military needs help to protect them from danger, as it might make it more likely for them to spend money to help with that support, so they can feel safe again.

Research Questions

Every study or paper has something the author wishes to explore. In order to do that, it is best to ask questions, which can be answered through careful study. The research questions for this paper are as follows:

1. Should the Egyptian government control the media?

2. Should the citizens respond to the Egyptian government control over the media?

3. Is government control of media beneficial?

Thesis Statement

Although some people may believe that the media should be controlled, I refute this perception and believe that the media should be an independent organization, citizens have the right to know all the information precisely and accurately, the government should not be involved in relaying truthful information to the public, and the Egyptian government should not be allowed to brainwash the citizens with lies.

Literature Review

There are several issues that have to be examined when it comes to the control of the media in Egypt. Some of these issues are related specifically to Egypt and its media problems. Other issues are more general, and they are related to the media, overall, and how it is valued in society. The way in which the media is used can vary from country to country, and there are both good and bad points to…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Amin, Hussein, and I- Chapter One: General Status. "Report on the State of the Media in Egypt." The Arab Center for the Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity Project Title: Strengthening the Rule of Law and Integrity in the Arab World Report on the State of the Media in Egypt Second Draft Author: Dr. Hussein Amin. Arab Rule of Law. (n.d.). Web.

"Egypt." Freedom House. 2012. Web.

Elmasry, Mohamed Hamas. Journalism with Restraint: A Comparative Content Analysis of Independent, Government, and Opposition Newspapers in Pre-Revolution Egypt. 2012. Web.

El Zahed, Hala. "Egyptian Press and the Transition to Democracy." Egyptian Press and the Transition to Democracy: A Study of the Conditions and Challenges Facing National Print Media Post. 2011. Web.

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