Al-Watani Al-Youm joins the ranks of partisan newspapers
The ruling National Democratic Party has established a new weekly newspaper called Al-Watani Al-Youm. The newspaper means The National Today and appeared on newsstands earlier this month for the first time.
It was necessary that a new newspaper would be established to express the evolution of the National Democratic Party and its new reformist vision, says Mohammed Hassan El-Alfy, editor in chief of Al-Watani Al-Youm newspaper.
The NDP formerly published another newspaper, Mayo (May). Mayo ceased publication in 2005, and has now been replaced by Al-Watani Al-Youm.
Compared to Mayo, the currently weekly paper has a new flavor. The content itself is different, with critical pages being added including coverage about the government and civil society.
The new current in the party was complaining about the old paper. Gamal Mubarak s New Thinking has led to a new generation of politicians to enter the party. They are mostly businessmen, not experienced in politics. Most of them are in the policy committees in the party, explains Samer Soliman, a political science professor at the American University of Cairo. They needed a new paper to express [this].
Al-Watani Al-Youm contains the usual items found in all newspapers, ranging from news reports, to art to sports.
The second issue of the publication carried an interview with President Hosni Mubarak. It is anticipated that the paper will include some exclusive reports and interviews of key members of its part.
The paper carries party news, items on their headquarters and officials, with pages speaking to the government either in support or – surprisingly, given the party s leadership – attacking it. The publication even includes stories on corruption.
We have new critical papers, as if it belongs to opposition newspapers more than the ruling party s. Opposition papers sometimes attack the government just for the sake of attacking it, we don t do that. If there s something that deserves to be addressed that s what we do, said El-Alfy. The same [applies to] matters that deserve applause.
Like other national newspapers, it should encounter the same difficulties in criticizing the government after the new press law that was passed in the parliament. The law states that journalists who defame government officials can face considerable fines, making it difficult for journalists to investigate and write about government officials financial integrity.
There s a question whether the newspaper will be any different from state-owned newspapers. State-owned newspapers are officially independent, but are seen by many as government mouthpieces.
National newspapers already express the government s views, says Soliman. I don t think anyone will be interested in knowing what the National Democratic Party will have to say in this new newspaper. The party already controls the media, he continues.
We re totally independent from the party, they can’t interfere with our work, says El-Alfy.
Critics of the state owned newspapers claim that more and more people have begun turning to independent newspapers in the last couple of years for credible information. One of the most successful independent newspapers is Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Only three issues have been published of Al-Watani Al-Youm. Time and distribution figures will tell whether people will find it credible for news and information about the party.