During the 18-day uprising, state TV and pro-Mubarak newspapers portrayed the hundreds of thousands of protesters as a minority of troublemakers. While raucous protests raged in downtown Cairo, state-run Al-Nil TV showed serene videos of the Nile River. – AFP Photo

CAIRO: Egypt’s state and pro-government media have abruptly changed their tune. Faithful mouthpieces of Hosni Mubarak’s regime until the end, they now celebrate the ouster of the longtime Egyptian president — and pledge to be more attentive to ordinary Egyptians. State TV even promised to be more truthful in its reporting.

During the 18-day uprising, state TV and pro-Mubarak newspapers portrayed the hundreds of thousands of protesters as a minority of troublemakers. While raucous protests raged in downtown Cairo, state-run Al-Nil TV showed serene videos of the Nile River.

But on Saturday, a day after Mubarak’s resignation, the message had been turned upside down.

“The people ousted the regime,” proclaimed the once pro-Mubarak Al-Ahram on its front page.

A state TV journalist, reporting from outside Mubarak’s Cairo palace where thousands had gathered after Mubarak’s ouster, said that “at these moments, Egyptians are breathing freedom.”

And an editorial by the state-run daily Al-Gomhouria called for greater transparency, complaining that “the sharks of the old regime sucked the life from Egypt.”

The Armed Forces Supreme Council, which assumed control of the country from Mubarak, has made clear it would continue to use the government-funded outlets as a platform, with a series of appearances by a uniformed spokesman announcing plans.

But Hisham Qassam, who publishes several independent Egyptian papers, said state media could even fade away if a new government cuts off funding. “It’s a slow demise, it could take over a year,” he said. “But it’s over, it’s finished.”

During the uprising, some pro-government media were targeted by the protesters.

Some of the largest and most violent protests took place in front of the Ministry of Information, from which state TV broadcasts. At some point, riot police clashed with protesters trying to take over the building. Many accused Information Minister Anas al-Fiqqi of orchestrating a heavy media campaign against protesters by accusing them of sabotaging Egypt.

On Friday, just hours before Mubarak resigned, thousands chanted in front of the heavily guarded building, preventing employees from entering. “The liars are here, where is Al-Jazeera?” some chanted, showing their preference for the Qatar-based satellite TV channel. Al-Jazeera was repeatedly targeted by the Egyptian government for what it viewed as coverage sympathetic to the protesters.

Many said Al-Jazeera’s live coverage of protesters was responsible for the large turnout in early days when the government blacked Internet and mobile phone communications. But there were also challenges from within.

A day before Mubarak’s ouster, reporters and editors at Al-Ahram demanded that the editor-in-chief be fired over the negative coverage of the protests. They demanded the newspaper run a front-page apology for what Hanan Haggag, a senior editor, called the “very unethical coverage.”

It remains unclear at what point editorial policy changed, but the dramatic shift was apparent.

On Saturday, state TV issued a statement carried by Egypt’s Middle East News Agency, “congratulating the Egyptian people for their pure great revolution, lead by the best of the Egyptian youth.”

“Egyptian TV will be honest in carrying its message,” the statement said. “Egyptian TV is owned by the people of Egypt and will be in their service.”

Opinion

Kashmir question
06 Mar 2021

Kashmir question

Every single spell of détente evaporates before our very eyes.
Inventing cultural nostalgia
06 Mar 2021

Inventing cultural nostalgia

Glorifying violence & conquest through fictionalised history will have devastating consequences for Pakistan.

Editorial

Vote of confidence
Updated 06 Mar 2021

Vote of confidence

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan’s decision to take a vote of confidence from parliament today is a bizarre move.
06 Mar 2021

PSL disaster

RAPID escalation in the number of coronavirus cases has led to the postponement of the Pakistan Super League’s...
06 Mar 2021

India ranking

WHILE India has often tooted its own horn as the ‘world’s largest democracy’ — being supported in this...
Ravi project
Updated 05 Mar 2021

Ravi project

THE assault by an enraged group of farmers on a provincial revenue team assigned to acquire land for the...
05 Mar 2021

Climate change

PAKISTAN received much less rainfall in January 2021 as compared to previous years, making it the 17th driest month...
05 Mar 2021

Antimicrobial resistance

WITH the focus on Covid-19, many health issues, though otherwise recognised as serious medical problems, tend to be...