As is the case with tragedies like the Louran building collapse; they bring us to question all the role players on the scene, Government, society, local authorities, District office, engineers & of course the media.
The global media coverage is in the least, sad but true, it gives us a painful insight about how we’re viewed as a nation worldwide, and it’s not by any means an optimistic or admirable image.
The CNN coverage stated that:
“Buildings regularly collapse in Egypt, either as a result of deterioration with time or shoddy construction that fails to meet standards and regulations.”
Al Jazeera, Reuters, Herald tribune & New York Times coverage gave statements to the same effect. As for the MSNBC, they went further to state:
“Shoddy materials, illegal construction and a culture of corruption were blamed for the deaths of more than three dozen people buried when a 12-story apartment building crumbled to the ground.”
That’s how we are viewed globally now, as a culture of corruption!
However, what’s even more upsetting was the Egyptian media’s coverage. The Egyptian media’s coverage of the incident confirmed that our media is still divided into two halves; which I’ve named the appeasers & the inciters.
The appeasers being of course the sector of the media that is indirectly sponsored & controlled by the government, those work as somewhat an unpaid PR agency for the government, trying to pacify and soothe the society in the face of such tragedy.
Therefore the information communicated by this sector is somewhat true, but is often unreliable because it is toned down to the maximum.
As for the inciters, they are of course all the yellow tabloids and opposition owned media, which tend to do the exact opposite, blow the news out of proportion and exaggerate it to the other extreme.
Those two faces of the coin are equally untrustworthy for getting facts and objective information. And usually in a lot of these cases they both worsen the sufferings of those directly affected by the tragedy, with their mixed false information and uncertain facts.
An example of this is the “Al Masry Al Youm” coverage which on 28/12/2007, on its website published the news of the death of Roba Ayoub & all of her family. Although at the time Roba (God bless her soul) was still under the rubble.
Al Masry Al Youm went further than that to develop its own little touching story about Roba’s death, whom they referred to as Reda! The website published:
“Chance alone caused the death of Reda Salah Ayoub. She had come back from Kuwait… to spend the vacation with her parents. She was having fun over the past few days with her Siamese cat and she became known in the neighborhood for her love for cats.
Reda died under the rubble with her father and her mother… Their bodies were buried, but rescue workers found the cat alive after three days. Neighbors said it was Reda’s cat and that she had brought her from Kuwait.
Reda’s brother said that she had been working in Kuwait for three years and had come back to spend Bairam with her parents… Their bodies were pulled out of the rubble 12 hours later.”
Of course this is all but a figment of the writer’s imagination, because, Roba (not Reda) didn’t work in Kuwait, not for three years or even one! Prior to the collapse she travelled to Kuwait for a period of three month, which she spent with her family, and more ironically she never had a cat.
What’s even more tragic was that 2 days after the collapse two other newspapers published that Roba was out of the rubble alive, which started an optimistic rumor and false hope among her relatives & friends, and of course later on intensified the effect of her lose.
Now isn’t there some fundamental law that says that a journalist should verify his/her info before publishing it?
OK! How about completely made-up stories! Isn’t there some law against that?
And isn’t about time we have an objective newspaper, that doesn’t have a hidden political agenda, and that tries to publish True facts to the public for a change?