Reporting Egypt’s Revolution: Journalism on the Frontline

Speakers: Journalists Jack Shenker and Mostafa Bassiouny (see below).

Global condemnation of the sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists to up to ten years in jail has focussed attention on the assault on the media by Egypt’s military regime. In this event, we will explore the vital role that independent and critical journalism has played in creating a space for dissident voices to be heard. Al-Jazeera played a central role in breaking the state TV monopoly over broadcasting, while for a decade before the revolution, privately-owned newspapers challenged the hegemony of the regime’s press. For the first time in decades, daily reports of protests, strikes and signs of a growing social movement filled the newspapers. Outspoken talkshow hosts provoked heated debate and discussion, giving opposition activists a public platform and a mass audience. During the uprising against Mubarak, as the global media beamed live coverage from Tahrir Square, workers in the state-run media took matters into their own hands, expelling recalcitrant editors and asserting journalistic independence in order to report on the revolution.

Today the military want to turn the clock back to the days of Mubarak, when criticism was routinely stifled by jailing journalists and intimidating editors. Jack Shenker and Mostafa Bassiouny will analyse the threat to journalism in Egypt posed by Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s regime, and explore how activists on the ground are continuing to resist attacks on freedom of expression.

About the speakers:

Jack Shenker was formerly Egypt correspondent for the Guardian. In 2011 his coverage of the Egyptian revolution won the Amnesty International Gaby Rado award for excellence in human rights reporting. A 2012 Guardian film on Egypt, football and revolution, made by Jack, Simon Hanna and Richard Sprenger, won a Webby award for the best online sports video. Jack’s articles covering the previous year’s November uprising in Egypt (including the use of live ammunition by security forces against protesters) and an analysis of global youth-led revolts against tyranny and neoliberal austerity, were shortlisted for the Kurt Schork and Anna Lindh journalism awards respectively. He is currently working on a book exploring Egypt and resistance, to be published later this year by Allen Lane and Penguin.

[jack.shenker [at] gmail.com]

Mostafa Bassiouny has more than a decade’s experience as a reporter and editor in the Egyptian and regional press. He was industrial correspondent for Al-Dustour between 2005 and 2010, reporting on the mass strikes by textile workers in Mahalla al-Kubra in 2006 and 2007, and the uprising which rocked the town in 2008. He reported on the overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia in January 2011 before returning to Egypt to participate in the uprising against Mubarak. Between 2011 and 2014 he was Head of News for liberal daily Al-Tahrir, overseeing the front-page publication of shocking pictures of army officers dragging a woman protester through Tahrir Square in December 2011. He is co-author of Bread, Freedom and Social Justice: Workers and the Egyptian Revolution, to be published by Zed in October 2014.

mostafabassiouny1970 [at] gmail.com

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