Category Archives: Journalism

Left Behind

Who knew the US government had a sewing book?

“This was a campaign for social behavioral change,” he said. “I would ask people, ‘What do you do when you’re frustrated?’ And they would say, ‘I march.’ ”

His reply became almost standard, he said: “If the people who marched actually voted, we wouldn’t have to march in the first place.”

That’s an NYT article from a couple days ago, about Obama’s hopes to win Arizona by galvanizing the Latino vote next year. The situation for Latinos in Arizona and liberals and leftists in Egypt is quite different. But…

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Filed under Downtown Personages, Journalism, Music, Politics

NEWSWEAK

TBE WEB EXCLUSIVE

If there’s one thing that’ll awaken TBE from the non-alcoholic champagne and caviar haze in which we currently live, it’s poorly argued journalism about Mohamed ElBaradei. Reading the recent commentary on ElBaradei in Newsweek, we kept having to check the URL, to make sure we weren’t reading the aggressively illogical and agrammatical musings of a certain “journalist” whose comments, despite being free, often leave one demanding a refund.

Since we’re shorter on time than we used to be, we’ve simply reprinted the article with some parenthetical annotation. Following the article are a few more thoughts, and an invitation to the article’s author to clarify a few points.

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Filed under Journalism, Politics, Reviews

Baradei’s Now

Alaa al-Aswani catches a lot of flack for being the official go-to person for lazy Western reporters seeking comment on whatever has seized their inane fancy that week. As we’re in no position to judge whether this is due to grievous acts of self-promotion or the aforementioned lassitude in dogged pursuit of stories, we tend to give the good dentist the benefit of the doubt.

Also, we like his writing in this piece, urging his fellow citizens to welcome Muhammad ElBaradei upon his arrival at Cairo Airport, which gains its power not from stylistic flourishes but rather from its very direct appeal and the heartstrings tugging towards the end that is his specialty.

We promise, our “Al-Baradei, All the Time” phase will end soon, if only because we’re running out of suitable puns…

From al-Shorouk’s Tuesday, February 16 edition:

Why Are We Going to Welcome ElBaradei?

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Filed under Journalism, Politics, Translations

No Real Estate Taxation Without Representation?

Some Background

Something potentially important just happened in Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak personally announced that a planned new real estate tax, expected to come into effect this year, would be postponed until after upcoming elections. This came after the bill had provoked a furious outcry in both parliament and the press. While the decision has garnered plenty of hot air and a fair amount of righteous indignation, we haven’t seen much analysis of the decision’s longer term implications, which is what we aim to provide.

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Filed under Conspiracy Theories, Journalism, Politics

TBE Assignments Editor

The Muslim Brotherhood's favorite bank?

Dear Foreign Correspondents,

It’s a journalistic and academic commonplace to maintain that the Muslim Brotherhood derives some (or a lot) of support by providing social services for the poor-middle classes.

It’s also a journalistic and academic commonplace to maintain that the government is heavily involved in licensing and generally sticking its nose in everything. And it’s not exactly possible to run a medical clinic or whatever in secret, even if you’re totally deمحظورة out like مظاهر محظورة . (That’s a Kriss Kross reference.)

Where these two common places overlap lies an interesting story angle.

Bonus incentive: Al-Baradei will return on the 19th, and you’ll surely get a story out of it. But between now and then nothing is likely to happen that will get your name in the newspaper/magazine.

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Filed under Conspiracy Theories, Hip Hop, Journalism, Politics

Time For A Journalism Ethics Panel?

TBE doesn’t usually engage in journalism, much less (open source) investigative journalism, but sometimes we decide not to simply pass a story on to someone else, as we usually would.

This tale begins with our catching up on some reading. We were looking at some neglected feeds on our RSS reader and came to Stephen Walt’s FP blog. Innocently scrolling down we came to a post about an Iran conference convened by the Israel Project, a US propaganda outfit that toes the “stopping settlements is “a kind of ethnic cleansing”” line, according to J Street. Not having attended the conference, we don’t know what was said. But if the materials on the group’s website are any indication, it was probably quite similar to a little ditty sung by former presidential candidate John McCain in one of his more unguarded moments. None of this is altogether shocking in a US context.

What did surprise us, however, was a panel, “How to Get Published and Write a Letter to the Editor with journalist and Reuters Editor Alan Elsner.” Why, we wondered, would an editor at Reuters, which, as far as we know, hews to US journalistic standards of objectivity, lead a panel at a conference run by a group that is almost certainly attempting to influence the coverage of the news organization for which he works? A quick google news search indicates that he is an editor at Reuters’ Washington, DC bureau. Past postings, according to his personal website, have included stints as Jerusalem correspondent (1980-85) and chief political correspondent (1994-2000).

With those facts in mind, and lacking any contact information for Mr. Elsner himself, we contacted Reuters’ public relations department. After a little back-and-forth, we received the following email:

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TBE Saves Journalism

"Even if now she got a perm..."

TBE has long been fascinated by the way information spreads in settings, like Egypt, where the media tends to focus on official utterances and big scandals and events, with very little attention paid to more localized developments, both at the neighborhood level and in localities outside the capital or other major cities. A generalization, to be sure, but we think the reception of the exceptions, like Pakinam Amer’s great reporting in the aftermath of the Naga Hamadi murders, and this story we translated a while back, prove the rule.

Verily the Boursa Exchange was started as a means of remedying this sorry lack of local news, as a fake newspaper providing coverage of Boursa events, though we readily admit we’ve strayed quite far from our original mission statement. Anyway, the immediate occasion for this rueminiscence was the news that al-Masri al-Youm has started publishing an Alexandria edition, with al-Shorouk’s set to start on February 1st, a welcome development in the Egyptian media scene and one that we hope will continue. And we’ve got a brilliant idea how to “git r done,” as our mentor Larry the Cable Guy would say.

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Filed under Journalism, Politics