* The head of the Foreign Press Association: Some correspondents are lazy and not precise...the Arabic press is also responsible.
* The head of the Cairo Press Center: Most of the news reports are correct and most of the articles and editorials are biased.
Where does a lie start? Does it start in the backstage of a newspaper or a satellite channel? Or does it start in the correspondent’s office, without the knowledge of his newspaper? How does a foreign correspondent in any capital, especially Cairo, get the different news? Is it probable that he could be biased or are the problems of language and translation the reason behind the wrong information? We put all these questions to the head of the Foreign Press Association [in Cairo] and the head of the Cairo Press Center, which is the Egyptian body dealing directly with correspondents.
Mohamed Gaafar, the director of the Cairo Press Center, explained that the different foreign press associations inform the center which interviews and visits their correspondents want to make. The task of the Center is to get news through the different media bureaus, in the countries where there are no information offices. In the light of the information it gets, the Center contact certain officials or persons, whom it believe would be able to give correct and objective analysis of the news.
Gaafar stressed that the Center confirmed, that they did not intervene in the work of the correspondent or practice any censorship over him, except in the cases when the Prosecutor General orders non-publication. He added that correspondents were, most of the time, objective in expressing the different opinions and information they get. He explained that there were differences between editorials and articles on the one hand and news reports on the other hand. In an article or editorial, the writer express his own opinion, thus he may be biased and subjective. However, news reports are objective.
Gaafar observed that after September 11, Islam and Muslims faced false claims, either due to biased writings or shortage in [correct] information. Muslims are also to be blamed because they did not explain the true Islam to the others. Foreign correspondents, when reflecting on the Islamic beliefs, expressed them honestly.
We asked him, if this is the case, from where do distortions come? His answer was that the lack of information and the ignorance of the society’s nature are two of the reasons behind distortion. Such distortion may serve certain political aims. The September 11th event was an opportunity for some biased writers to mobilize the feeling of Americans and Europeans against Muslims.
Mr. Volkhardt Windfuhr, the head of the Foreign Press Association in Cairo, a German who has been living in Egypt for 37 years, said that no restriction was imposed on correspondents. However, sometimes they do not exert enough effort to get the correct and precise information. Sometimes their papers do not deal objectively with the right information they sent to them.
Windfuhr added that there is never misinterpreted news in the European press. However, there is such deformed news [making changes] in the American press. The European press is always more moderate. He said, "We should not forget that some press associations have Israeli correspondents every where. They are one of the main reasons behind the misinterpreted news." He confirmed that many of the foreign correspondents believe in the Palestinian case. All foreign correspondents sympathize with it, but opinions expressed in that respect are controlled by the writers in the headquarter of the correspondents’ papers.
Windfuhr said that the Arabic press did not do its best in exposing its issues and expressing its points of view. Besides, people in charge should continuously contact foreign correspondents to explain to them the reality of the different issues.