For this project, I studied Egypt’s independent daily news source, Daily News Egypt, and I used the US online newspaper The New York Times for comparison in terms of layout and coverage. This project helped me get out of my comfortable worldview and explore another perspective through news articles. As I move forward through my college years, the world keeps expanding as I learn about different social and political structures and new ways of life.
The first aspect of Daily News Egypt that should be examined it the physical layout and ad content. The initial impression of the front page is that it is organized, only broken apart by ad banners that stretch horizontally across the screen, slicing the page up by category. Politics and business are the first two sections one comes across by scrolling down, and then followed by smaller sections of lifestyle, culture, technology, and opinion articles. The New York Times follows a similar pattern, with election articles, business information and opinion pieces carefully laid out to look like the front of a newspaper. Though both papers value similar news topics, the layouts vary in that Daily News Egypt more resembles a website, where The New York Times used its layout to imitate a physical newspaper.
More important than the layout, though, is the content; what kinds of stories does this publication feature? I focused on the politics section of Daily News Egypt where it addressed the current political tension that Egypt’s population is experiencing. Throughout every article I explored, its length and thoroughness was about half that of a New York Times article, only detailing major plot points in every story. I wondered why this may be the case, then as I explored further, articles that entailed the capturing and detaining of journalists, activists, and protesters, I felt that maybe because of its independent status, Daily News Egypt may be walking a fine line between governmental restrictions and journalistic obligation to inform the public. According to Freedom House, Egypt’s media environment grew worse when army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi overthrew the current president and seized power in 2014.1 After this, a new constitution was adopted, claiming to protect press freedoms, but in reality sought to purge publications of outspoken voices.2 This explains why Daily News Egypt does not explicitly express opinions about the government or its decisions. Articles remain relatively objective with both perspectives of citizens and government officials.
In comparison to U.S. publications, Daily News Egypt refrains from writing subjective pieces on political issues and events. It states facts about the current state of the country and features opinions from both citizens and government officials, but since it is an independent news source, it leans slightly in favor of public opinion. It is also not subject to government censorship, which allows it to report on government issues without imminent threat. It can be deduced that Daily News Egypt views Egypt as a faltering country with promise of redemption; stories on policy and politics highlight government wrongdoing without explicitly stating such, showing objectivity in political matters. This is seen in articles about journalists and activists being detained by the government; though Daily News points blame at the Egyptian government and its unfair policies and laws, it used careful language to avoid possible conflict. More controversial topics, such as the banned group Muslim Brotherhood, are authored under “Daily News Egypt,” which may be to protect journalists from legal action by the government. I thought this was interesting, as I had rarely seen this in any U.S. news sources. At first I had wondered why some articles had no names attached to them besides the name of the publication, but then as I read more articles under that author name, I came to a conclusion that it was to divert persecution from any specific author.
The articles published by Daily News Egypt are diverse in their content, spanning from political reform, to immigration, to environmental research, to social unrest. Though the U.S. is only mention in terms of the upcoming presidential election, Daily News featured coverage not only about Egypt, but also in the greater scheme of the African continent. An article detailing the Pan-African Parliament’s proposal for it to be Africa’s legislative body is an example of the global scale that Daily News reports in; in U.S. news sources, international affairs are covered, but not with the vigilance that is displayed in Egypt’s online publication.
Egypt hosts over 31.767 million Internet users, which is the 15th most Internet users in the world.3 Daily News makes their articles available without subscription, unlike most major publications like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. This means that almost 32 million people have access to the information provided by Daily News Egypt, which creates an environment that demands frequent updates about local, national and international news. From what I can deduce, Daily News Egypt provides dozens articles a day, not only in political updates, but other areas of life, which totals up to a well-rounded publication.
The only issue I found with Daily News was the surprisingly short lengths of the articles. Though they were short and kept my attention span, they did not provide the depth of information that other U.S. publications usually do, and perhaps that is due to the reason I had pointed out earlier, to not take a definitive stance and keep objectivity. Overall, I really enjoyed an assignment where I was forced to leave my comfortable news bubble of U.S.-centric publications, as it helped me gain a little more insight as to what is happening across the globe.
1 Egypt. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2016, from https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2015/egypt
2 Egypt. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2016, from https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2015/egypt
3 The World Factbook: Egypt. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2016.