From the Editors
Meet the Media with ONTV's Reem Maged
The Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism hosted its second Meet the Media discussion of the semester on Wednesday, 28 March 2012. The discussion featured Reem Maged, host of ONTV’s Baladna Bel Masry. The discussion was titled “The Media and the Military: A Closer Look at the Relationship.”
Moderator Hafez Al Mirazi, director of the Adham Center and host of Dream 2’s Cairo Time, started off by showing the audience clips of some of the most well-known and controversial moments from Maged’s show-- namely the episode she co-hosted with ONTV’s Yosri Fouda in March 2011. The episode featured a tense argument between then Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik and one of the Egyptian revolution’s most popular icons, writer, thinker and leftist, Alaa el Aswany. Shafik resigned the following morning.
Maged started off by joking about what she perceived was a peculiar name for the show she co-hosts with Ibrahim Eissa, Baladana Bel Masry--a merge between her previous show Bel Masry Al Faseeh and Ibrahim Eissa’s Baladna. She had, and still has, objections to the name and the merge but, as she added, it was an executive decision.
Al Mirazi then asked Maged to tell the audience - mainly students who are fans of her show - how she began working in the field of television. She started her career in 1995 on Nile TV’s English/French channel, where she held different positions over the course of her 12 years there, including assistant director, French news anchor, and finally, reporter, producer and editor. “My biggest challenge was the language, French, which is not my mother tongue,” explained Maged. “This challenge, however, helped me overcome my fears of trying new things.” After Nile TV, Maged moved on to different channels and various posts, including Al Jazeera, where she produced a series of humanitarian documentaries that shed light on groups of people from different countries across the globe. She ended up at ONTV, the only channel she actually aspired to work for. “ONTV is the Egyptian channel best suited to producing high quality documentary films and this is why I wanted to work there on producing more documentaries, which was my area of strength and my passion.”
Despite her expressed interest in documentary filmmaking, Maged was chosen to anchor a news program,The World in One Hour, before she was chosen to host Bel Masry Al Faseeh, the show that proved her presence in the field and paved the way for her to become a media icon with a wide base of followers today.
Turning to the topic of the discussion--the relationship between the media and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF)--Reem critiqued the current system. “We have a completely corrupt media system,” she said. “The relationship is very complicated and it is very difficult to separate opinion from news, given the flawed system and the intentionally misleading tactics adopted by the SCAF in their communication with the public.It is very difficult not to criticize the SCAF or to be objective in covering their news.”
[Egypt's military rulers hold a press conference on 19 December 2011
following clashes with protesters. Photograph: Al-Jazeera]
One main challenge she faces as a talk show host, Maged said, is the constant effort it takes to remain detached and professional in her news coverage while at the same time maintaining credibility and satisfying one’s conscience. “Sometimes I have proof that what is being claimed or announced to the public is inaccurate and misleading. Yet, one has to remain uninvolved and relay the message as is. This is the challenge in which I fail a lot of times since I want to tell the people the truth the way I see it, even if it is not in the most professional manner,” explained Maged. “It helps me sleep better at night knowing that I did not help deceive the public.”
A primary example of the media system’s distortion is the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes a media figure, and what should be the criteria required for talk show hosts who appear on TV every day and shape and manipulate the public’s perceptions and ideas of what is right and wrong. “We cannot just add anyone who goes on TV to the list of media representatives, there has to be some criteria for who is held accountable and who isn’t,” explained Maged. Adding to this predicament is the unclear understanding of what a talk show host is supposed to do. Emerging as a substitute for regular local independent news bulletins, which were not allowed under the previous regimes, talk shows have become a kind of channel by which their hosts can relay the news independently from the official bulletin. “A talk show host is not a news anchor, however, and cannot be asked to maintain his/her objectivity or refrain from showing what he/she thinks,” explained Maged. “A talk show host is more like a newspaper columnist than a news reporter.”
Finally, Al Mirazi asked Maged about the popular gossip segment of her show which she conducts in Egyptian colloquial and is called Belmefteshr or “bluntly.” In this very short segment, Maged brings up a hot topic of discussion and tackles it in very slang-heavy colloquial Arabic that everyone can relate to. It is meant to have a sarcastic tone, making it more of a standup segment. Maged attributed her fluency in colloquial Egyptian and the complex use of Arabic terms to her grandmothers, with whom she used to spend a lot of time listening to how they spoke.
The discussion ended with a clip of Maged’s appearance after being released by SCAF following a 24-hour interrogation session. She explained that she was called in for questioning after allegations made on air by one of her guests against the SCAF. She was was accused of inciting the public against the SCAF and for revealing an official source cited by her guest.. Maged added that she is not convinced that an official source needs to remain confidential. “If it is official, it is public,” she added. She also insisted that she was not inciting or making allegations, but rather was giving her audience a piece of accurate and correct news.
The discussion was followed by a Q&A session in which the audience asked Maged about her views on the current political scene and issues related to the credibility of the media and their complicated relationship with SCAF. Renowned poet, writer, and activist Fatma Nawoot was among the audience, and she expressed her admiration for Maged’s adept use of language in her show.
The discussion was held in Moataz Al Alfi Hall, AUC New Cairo and was conducted in Arabic.
[This interview is being reposted with permission from the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism at the American University in Cairo]
العلاقة بين الإعلام والعسكري: لقاء مع ريم ماجد
If you prefer, email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot on Facebook
"Although we were in Paris, when people gather, they still whisper. Everyone I met kept glancing over their shoulders before saying anything significant, to make sure no one suspicious was listening in."click | email | tweet
Jad NavigationView Full Map, Topics, and Countries »
From Jadaliyya Reports
Jadalicious / جدلشس
Latest EntriesView All Entries »
- Egypt Media Roundup (June 17)
- حديثي مع الشيطان
- Defining the Terrain of Struggle in Taksim
- New Texts Out Now: Markus Dressler, Writing Religion: The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam
- Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (June 18)
- فرانكشتاين في بغداد
- O.I.L. Media Roundup (17 June)
- هل يمكن تطوير الجدل حول المثلية الجنسية؟
- Resisting Tear Gas Together
- معتقلو موريتانيا في غوانتانامو
- Last Week on Jadaliyya (June 10-16)
- Will the Presidential Elections “Cure the Pain” of the Iranian People?
- الانترنت والعولمة الثقافية
- #resistankara: Notes of a Woman Resisting
- It Is About the Park: A Struggle for Turkey’s Cities
- 'Ottomanalgia' and the Protests in Turkey
- إصلاح بروتوكول باريس في عامه العشرين: أسئلة وأجوبة لإرضاء الإصلاحي العنيد
- Report from Istanbul: Koray Caliskan on Democracy Now
- Syria Media Roundup (June 13)
- Maghreb Media Roundup (June 14)