Hisham Kassem

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Hisham Kassem

"One of Egypt's most prominent publishers and democracy activists, Hisham Kassem was, until recently, the publisher of Al-Masry Al-Youm ("The Egyptian Today") Egypt's first independent daily paper. He is also former Vice President of the liberal opposition Hizb al-Ghad (Tomorrow Party), and has served as chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

"Last year the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl noted that "It's worth marveling at the mini-revolution his paper has wrought," pointing out that before Hisham launched Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egyptian [daily papers] consisted solely of official organs such as al-Ahram, whose editors are appointed by the regime."

"Hisham is a staunch advocate of independent journalism, noting that "the manipulation of media by politics during the past 50 years has led to a serious drop in readership." He stresses the importance of transparency in newspaper ownership and funding for preventing corruption and covert political influence. Egypt is one of only 12 states that impose prison sentences for libel. "That makes the press a risky investment, which is plainly bad," he says, "because all press must be owned by private, joint-stock companies without political agendas if we're to have a free flow of information."" [1]

"In 2008, Kassem resigned from Al Masry Al Youm to begin the spadework for a landmark Arab media conglomerate. He toured the world's great newsrooms to learn how to develop his own news management system and organized a road show to line up 30 million pounds (about $5.2 million) in start-up capital - under Egypt's press law, he is prohibited from raising funds from non-Egyptians.

"As 2010 approached, he had signed a lease for two floors of prime office space and he was negotiating with an architect the fine points of the floor plan, from the thickness of sound-proofing tiles in the recording studios to the wattage of recessed halogen bulbs in the newsroom. He was just about to start hiring staff when the rebellion against Mubarak gripped the nation and consumed the world." [2]

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References

  1. 2007 Democracy Award to Spotlight Press Freedom, NED, accessed September 14, 2007.
  2. Washington Post New Hope for Egypt's Pioneering Journalist, February 1, 2012.
  3. Steering Committee, World Movement for Democracy, accessed May 18, 2010.