Interesting AP piece on the struggles of the Egyptian official media to respond to the changing political and media environment:
Egypt's state media, whose top editors have been churning out the government line since before President Hosni Mubarak came to power 24 years ago, are struggling to cope with the political changes sweeping their country and the Middle East.
Critics say any type of state-owned media, by its nature, contradicts the reforms that autocratic Middle Eastern governments, including Egypt's, say they are committed to taking.
And speculation has been rife that the old state media guard is about to fall, and that the changing political climate combined with the success of freer pan-Arab satellite news stations and the Internet will turn Egypt's state-run media -- a pioneer in the region -- into a relic.
This important bit comes up midway through the story:
In Egypt, for a regime struggling to keep control over the pace of change, the proven loyalty of an aging, largely male top group of editors is a powerful tool in uncertain times that Mubarak isn't afraid to use. "Control over the media in Egypt is no less serious than controlling state security and the army -- it's control over people's minds," said Ibrahim Mansour, a member of Cairo's influential press syndicate.
That's exactly the kind of control which is now well beyond the capabilities of the Egyptian state - or any Arab state. Satellite television has demolished this ability. The only question now is what emerges in its place: a more competitive but still controlled state media, the same old state media bereft of audience and influence, a genuinely liberalized media, or something else.
I didn't like this part of the story, though:
Many of the six main state media companies don't mention the anti-Mubarak, pro-reform protests that began this year and have multiplied each month. Those that do often publish official Interior Ministry statements about arrests. One pro-government weekly, Rose el-Youssef, ran a headline in April saying: "The protesters are sick. Pray for their cure." Another daily, Al-Ahram, reported after authorities and Mubarak supporters assaulted and sexually harassed women protesters last week that one woman had torn her own clothes and then blamed government supporters.
Opposition newspapers go too far the other way and their reporting sometimes comes off sounding shrill. The Nasserite weekly Al-Arabi said after the same incident: "Police are in the service of groping and disgracing Egyptian women's honor."
This is a classic false binary, just like that which plagues the American media. Al-Arabi may have been shrill, but its reporting was in fact the truth - this is what really happened. The government media lied. The opposition media told the truth. Is it the Egyptian opposition's fault that the facts are shrill?