Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Visa Renewal and Reporting 101

Everyone makes mistakes, even journalists
Thanks to a reader, I was directed to a blog article from the Luxor Times Magazine titled “The Ugly Destructive Face of Media… AnInsight on the Visa Situation.” This bimonthly magazine created a blog in order to keep readers in-the-know between print publications with this particular entry claiming that media reports about visa denials were untrue and the disturbance in the expat community as a result.

It said, “Those sites based their reports on personal [stories] of [a] maximum of four individuals and to make it look important and big exposure that no other media source but them managed to find that fact, they used fancy expressions like ‘Cracking down on visas’ or ‘simply cut [the expat community] off is kind of worrisome.’”

It said that articles like this shouldn’t be dubbed news and even proceeded to give the definition of the term saying, “News means something happened but when it is a case of few individuals and the editors didn’t even try to get to the source or the responsible official to check if that information is true or not.” Then it combated the use of the source from the Ministry of Tourism saying that it has nothing to do with issuing visas to foreigners.

First of all Luxor Times, I have to question what kind of news reporting you are doing. The standard rule for journalism is that you must include no less than two sources per article. The use of four sources in one article well suffices the requirement. Second, the Ministry of Tourism has everything in the world to do with the issuance of…wait for it…wait for it…tourism visas. And third of all, with it’s the backlash over these “unqualified” sources, not once did the Luxor Times Magazine use ONE source.

It said that articles like these only aimed to increase web traffic and added, “Freedom of press comes with [the] responsibility and requires maintaining a high level of integrity otherwise the media will lose its credibility.” I couldn’t agree more. So Luxor Times, perhaps it’s time that you take your own advice and check into the story yourself instead of ending this entry with “…or if Luxor Times information is not correct please pay a visit to the passport office and get back to us.”

What’s most worrisome is that I tried to post a comment on the blog entry to point out these discrepancies. A comment was posted on the story saying thanks and requesting the magazine urge Egypt Today to correct its story in print. Talk about the destructive face of media – someone apparently gives the Luxor Times Magazine too much credit when it has yet to adhere to the journalism standards that it claims to uphold. And yet, my comment has yet to be approved for posting.

In conclusion, I will admit that perhaps these news articles listed in places like Bikya Masr need further research. I believe that a clarification should be made. Tourism visas are only being extended three months at a time; however, work visas for foreigners are being declined in greater numbers. If the Luxor Times Magazine would like sources on this, I can give them five right now, but it will be forced to call three sources in Germany since they were forced to leave after having their visas denied. I can also give them two other Americans in my building that just graduated from the American University in Cairo. These two have been in Cairo for a little over a year and were denied extensions. I can also provide an Egyptian source that helps foreigners expedite their visa process whom will also confirm that visas are more difficult to obtain in the present situation.

So again, I want to say that everyone makes mistakes - even journalists. Don't take everything you see and/or read to be fact. If unsure about the information reported, please research the matter yourself. Unfortunately journalism has shifted away from its humble beginnings. My blog cannot be considered journalism because it is my life, personal accounts and opinion. News isn't always entertaining and entertainment isn't always news, nor should a true journalist include his/her opinion in stories. News is, after all, supposed to remain unbiased unless appearing in the Op-Ed section.

Coming soon…

3 comments:

  1. The sad fact with most "news" organizations, especially broadcast ones, is that they have become more geared to providing viewers with entertainment and opinion rather than straight news. I understand that they need to keep their ratings up, but there is very little excuse for poor reporting these days. Granted as you said everyone makes mistakes, but it sounds in this case as if the abovementioned newspaper didn't even bother to check the facts to begin with...which is becoming more and more common in news agencies in my view. I wonder sometimes if those to be a journalist trying to adhere to the ideals of journalism would be to fight an uphill battle in this entertainment minded field of employment?

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  2. Hi Leann, Nice posting as always. I have a question. Do you know a good contracts lawyer as I am having some problems in Sharm with my developer. Tried some of the law firms on the American Embassy web site and they ran off with my money and did not help. I now need to find someone good.

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  3. To Anonymous: why don't you personally email me a bit more information. Furthermore, I certainly hope you wrote to the embassy to inform them of this. Getting the information out will help others avoid the same unfortunate circumstance that you now face. With more information, I can ask some of my contacts here in Cairo (I have an American off the top of my head right now) and hopefully help you. Send a message to: leannegraves@hotmail.com

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