Your newspaper is linked to publishing company Dar Shorouk. Can you explain how that influences your paper?
Since the daily Al-Shorouk already is issued for a company linked to Al-Shorouk House, one of the largest publishing houses in the Arab world, the newspaper wanted from the beginning the most demanding standards of objectivity and sobriety. At every meeting, the staff insists on the need to adhere to the highest standards of any professional newspaper in the Egyptian and Arab press and media market.
Which is the more difficult challenge in the publishing business: distribution or censorship?
Journalism and publishing in general in Egypt did not suffer from censorship, because there is no censorship prior to publication in Egypt, except for some very narrow limits for the publication of books, but the press does not face any of this sort of censorship. I think the real problem facing the independent and party press in Egypt concerns distribution. The problem of distribution for these newspapers is twofold. The first part is that the distribution company belongs to the competitor governmental newspapers. That is already a strange situation, because the distribution company can be manipulated one way or another for the benefit of the government’s newspapers at the expense of independent newspapers. The second part is the low numbers of readers of newspapers in Egypt in general. While Egypt has a population of about 80 million people, the total number of copies sold of all the daily newspapers does not exceed 1.5 million copies.
Can you tell us about Shorouk Newspaper’s decision to take an active role in the post-Mubarak transition period?
Al-Shorouk decided on January 25 to be fully supportive of the revolution, and this can be clearly on the front page since that day. After the success of the revolution and the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Shorouk has chosen to contribute positively to the political dialogue taking place in Egypt over the changes to be made now and in the future.
Can you briefly introduce us to the case of Akhbar El Adab (prominent literary magazine) and the latest changes in its editorial board?
The problem of Akhbar El Adab newspaper is that there is a strong call for change among large sectors of workers at this magazine, which was part of governmental press. So when the revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Egyptian regime, the journalists of Akhbar El Adab moved in order to overthrow the chief editor. Akhbar El Adab’s problem is the same problem as in the rest of the state-owned newspapers, in which journalists see that the chief editor must be overthrown.
As for the Al Shorouk Newspaper, such problems do not exist, because it the patterns of ownership in the non-governmental newspapers make conflicts less severe.
What do you think of the state of Egyptian newspapers?
I think that the Egyptian press now lives in a brighter age already. This is not from the perspective of freedom of expression only, but also because the political circumstances made the public need to read the newspapers more as well. However, in contrast, the printed press in Egypt is facing fierce competition from satellite TV programs, particularly the growing talk shows.