Disgusting. Humiliating. Ugly.
That was my day yesterday. The editorial team behind Daily News Egypt was to get one more slap on the face Tuesday.
I hate to discuss this. We always resisted being the story, even when the paper was censored. But it’s difficult to remain mum for no good reason.
I thought we were dealing with respectful people. I thought the owners of the paper would sustain a shred of decency, but I was proven wrong.
We went to pick up our salaries for April, which we were told by the owners we should be grateful to take. While employees in other departments took theirs, an order was made to exclude the journalists and editors. The reason? “A problem with one of the investors with the editor over ‘passwords’”. But we left everything including access to our virtual profiles and emails at the office before we were effectively kicked out. No one asked me for any “passwords” until I went to get my salary. And even if a “problem” persists, why punish a team of 15 for a problem with one person?
Well, the “passwords” seem like a mere excuse to me. The editorial team is the one that led the move to file a complaint at the labor office, after being told by the owners and the liquidator (who also served as the supervising accountant and auditor for the company over the years) that court is our only option to get the outstanding financial rights.
Like the sudden closure of the DNE website for a couple of days last month, the owners seem to be making decisions affecting the paper and its staff based on any phone conversation they don’t like. Ironically, when we reminded the owners they owe us and the whole staff financial rights more than just salaries, they told us to talk to the liquidator they appointed because legally they had no control over the company assets anymore. This “control” is only effective when they want to change something.
It was heartbreaking to see the tears in my colleagues’ eyes, shocked by this spat of humiliation. Journalists have repeatedly put their lives at the line to get the story out and everyone has sacrificed a lot personally and professionally to get around the ever scarce resources. On Tuesday, we kept reminding each other to keep our chins up; this situation didn’t reflect on us as much as those who forced it on us.
I really expected it to go gracefully, or at least with less drama. Instead, we have to deal with erratic and spiteful decisions. Shame!
Read the statement by the staff over Tuesday’s events. (It’s mirrored on all of our individual blogs).
Make sure to read DNE business reporter Reem Abdellatif’s take on the investors of the paper here.