Memo to US media: Egypt wasn’t about you

Ayman Mohyeldin is the Cairo correspondent for Al Jazeera English.

In two recent interviews (one with the New Yorker and the other with New York magazine) he outlines the responsibility of reporting during an uprising.

Note the way he highlights the ego-driven nature of much Western journalism:

For a day or so, the story in the U.S. became “our anchors are getting attacked.” Did you think it was ridiculous?
Without sounding disrespectful, it’s really a sad state of affairs when a big part of a news show’s coverage revolves around the anchor being punched ten times in the head, in the case of Anderson Cooper. In the case of Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour that they were jostled around by protesters. Listen, I’m not trying to take anything away from that. Those are very scary moments and we know that journalists have been harassed, but it’s really how you deal with the story that reflects the importance of it. This is a dangerous environment. The journalists are not supposed to be part of the story. Sometimes the tendency for these big personalities when they arrive in this country is to think that the story revolves around how they’re seeing the story rather than actual events that happened. But please don’t take my words out of context. I’m not trying to take any shots at these personalities. But it’s a slight disservice to the story when it becomes more about the journalist more than the actual people who are doing much worse.

You’ve been covering this for weeks. You’re in Tahrir Square. Is it hard not to feel like a protester yourself?
No, I don’t see myself as a protester by any means of the word. I see myself as a protester not for Egypt, but for freedom of speech and of expression, and the freedom of the media. Insofar as that I share that value, then I can be described that way. They have other demands. They want better wages, they want President Mubarak to step down, they want constitutional reforms. That does not impact me. But would my interests be advanced in an environment where there was more pluralism? Absolutely. So there can be convergence of interests. But I’m not seeing myself as the same as the people in Liberation Square.

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