Problems on hold
It is an editor-in-chief’s responsibility to establish the measures for journalistic performance he expects his editorial team to follow. If professionalism is to be upheld, an editor-in-chief must insist that credibility be at all times prioritised in order to earn and maintain readers’ trust. In this regard, a thorough and rigorous procedure should be in place to scrutinise news and verify their authenticity and the accuracy of their details prior to publishing. This, however, might in all probability entail that scoops—a major competition tool in the media—would be sacrificed. In Watani, we prefer not to rush and publish poorly substantiated material which may later prove inaccurate; we take our time to check and verify the news we publish; otherwise we would have to apologise to our readers for news published hastily and later proved inaccurate. But Watani has to walk a tightrope, since delay in printing news or stories until their accuracy is verified more often than not leaves the reader with the impression that our weekly paper is out of touch and does not cover events in due time. Our reporters, moreover, feel frustrated for missing out on scoops. However, this is compensated by our online service which covers events and follows up on them as they unfold, free from the time and publishing constraints on the weekly paper.
Despite the vigilance and caution we exercise, it is inevitable that at some point or another something would slip through the sieve and an inaccurate item would be printed. You can never be too cautious. This week, Watani found itself in that unenviable situation for printing imprecise news in its Sunday 24 November issue.
Friday 22 November was the date announced for the launching of the first Egyptian Satellite Tiba-1; a telecommunication satellite that takes Egypt a qualitative leap into communications and information technology. Driven by enthusiasm and pride at the launching of the first Egyptian Satellite Tiba-1, we at Watani prepared extensive material on the new satellite, the preparations for it to see light, the team that worked on its design and the tasks it was to accomplish, the time set to send it into orbit, its scope of coverage, and suchlike.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology had confirmed that Tiba-1 would be launched on Friday 22 November at 8pm by the French rocket Ariane 5 from the space centre in Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America. Given that the time announced by the Ministry would have been only a few hours later than the time Watani goes to press, we were confident that the coverage Watani would carry on Tiba-1 on Sunday 24 November would be both timely and interesting, and would honour the great national achievement. But what happened? On Saturday 23 November news circulated that the launching of Tiba-1 had been postponed for technical reasons and that, according to Muhammad al-Qousi who heads the Egyptian Space Agency, a further launching date would be set and announced. By that time, Watani was already on the market, carrying the story on Tiba-1. True, the story focused on the scientific, technological and developmental aspects related to the satellite, as well as the role it is expected to play. But it was linked to the launching of the satellite into orbit, and this had already been postponed; incidentally Tiba-1 was successfully launched last Tuesday 26 November, and started fulfilling its mission.
As Editor-in-Chief of Watani, I offer an apology to my readers, and look forward to a swift recovery of the technical dysfunction that led to delay in launching Tiba-1. Hopefully, it would be launched as soon as can be.
1 December 2019