Problems on hold
The right of reply is among the firmly established principles of quality journalism. A paper is committed to publish any reply or correction it receives concerning news or editorial content it had published. This does not necessarily mean that the material printed or posted was questionable; it just pays respect to the right of any individual or body that suffered in any way on account of what was published, and accordingly desired to inform the reader of a correction.
Watani has always been faithfully committed to the right of reply, out of respect to its sources and readers. The Law for Regulating the Press and Media which was passed by the House of Representatives on 23 June 2018 and ratified by the President earlier this month, stipulates that the editor-in-chief or managing editor of a paper, media channel, or website must publish corrections or replies at no cost to and upon request of the party concerned, within three days from receiving the reply. This should be in the first upcoming issue of a paper in all its editions, or in the first episode related to the issue in the media channel, whichever comes first, insomuch as it conforms with printing or broadcast schedules.
In respect of the right of reply, I today publish a letter I received from Rashad Refai, Chairman of Misr Travel Company, which came in reply to a story posted on 5 September 2018 on Watani’s website [www.wataninet.com] under the title “No Christians…decision by Misr Travel regarding its trips for journalists.”
I will here quote the original story posted on wataninet before I publish Misr Travel’s reply. The wataninet story read:
“The Activities Committee of the Journalists’ Syndicate announced a tourist trip to Taba, in cooperation with Misr Travel Company. A number of colleagues in Watani applied to join this trip which was scheduled from 15 to 18 September. These colleagues were surprised, however, to receive a phone call from the Journalists’ Syndicate on 5 September, notifying them that Misr Travel declined to accept Christians on the trip, and that, accordingly, Christian subscribers must head to the Syndicate to collect the subscription fees they had paid. Watani called Mr Hussein Zanati, head of the Activities Committee, to get to the bottom of the matter. Mr Zanati confirmed that Misr Travel declined to accept Christians on this trip since the road to Taba, he said, was not sufficiently safe for them. When Watani asked whether the entire trip was cancelled owing to security reasons, Mr Zanati said the trip was proceeding as planned on 15 September, but without Christian members. He offered his apologies, stressing that the decision had come in accordance with Misr Travel directives.”
The story posted on wataninet spurred much controversy, especially among those who had initially joined the trip but were later denied joining.
Following is the letter I received from Misr Travel:
“Mr Youssef Sidhom,
Editor-in-chief of Watani paper and website,
In reference to the item posted on your website on Wednesday 5 September 2018, under the title: “No Christians…decision of Misr Travel regarding its trip for journalists”, I would like to make the following facts clear:
First: The Company denies having issued any decision that would ban our Christians brothers from travelling anywhere; quite the contrary, the Company is keen to set up programmes for all Egyptians alike.
Second: Through the protocol of cooperation signed between Misr Travel and the Journalists’ Syndicate, we have organised more than nine trips. with Mr Hussein Zanati, head of the Journalists’ Syndicate’s Activities Committee, during the past months with no problems whatsoever. Among these were trips to Taba that included Coptic participants. These trips included Christian journalists.
Third: The Company stresses its respect and appreciation of all religions.
To conclude, we offer you our deep respect.
Rashad Refai, Chairman and Managing director”
I have published this letter in respect for the right of reply, and hope to have thus, calmly and wisely, contained any misunderstanding that might have arisen between the parties to this incident, of whose the patriotism and faithfulness I have no doubts.
13 September 2018