Cairo - Soumaya Ibrahim
TV presenter Jihan Mansour has reaffirmed in an interview with Arabstoday that the stage which Egypt and the Arab world are currently going through is extremely dangerous, and one that requires maximum efforts to emerge successfully. She also said that the political liquidity Egypt is currently experiencing is a result of 30 years of oppression. Mansour expressed that she hopes for a better tomorrow, but during the interview she did not hide her anxiety over what will happen next. Jihan talks to us about these topics and more in the following interview.
* What differences have you noticed between Arab and Western media through working for various TV stations?
The difference between any media agency is the level of freedom a reporter is allowed, especially in the political sphere. For example when I left Egypt TV and went to work for Al Arabiya in Dubai, I worked with many different Arab nationalities and gained a different type of Arab knowledge, which has broadened my thinking and taken me out what we call the “Pan Arab” mentality. Then I traveled to Washington and worked as a news anchor for Al Hurra TV and a presenter for “From America” at ART and later as an office manager for TV station Russia Today in Washington. The idea of an ‘International experience’ came from working with Americans and Russians and non-Arab nationalities, which gives a reporter experience with a variety of cultures and different visions. That’s why Western media wins over Arab media.
* What’s your favourite TV station that you’ve worked at?
Working at Al Arabiya was like working with a big family, because MBC in Dubai was in a 5-floor building, which had MBC, Al Arabiya and the radio station too. Everyone was friends there, and there were so many nationalities, Arab and non-Arab; it’s an amazing place to work really. As for Russia Today the best skills needed there were those of directing and filming, in addition to a sense of adventure in journalism. I was covering the American elections in 2008, and visited 52 American states, which was exhausting but extremely beneficial and enjoyable. As for Dream TV, it was one of the first private Egyptian TV stations and will be 10-years-old in September. But Dream was also the first to search for the truth, and go against the flow since 2001; it is a leader between private TV stations and has the highest audiences in Egypt. I’m very happy to be working in Dream, and I have a lot of love, respect and appreciation for my colleagues.
* Why did you specifically choose “The Square” to be your presenting job on Dream?
I presented the show “Crisis and Solution” everyday of the revolution, so surely “The Square” has a huge importance in the present time, especially with the events taking place every single day in Egypt, and the fresh events that take place every Friday. The show is aired every Friday as a conclusion to the developments in each Tahrir square in Egypt. We have followed the news of every square in Egypt and interviewed politicians, locals and reporters in addition to Presidential candidates and economic experts.
* With the spread of talk shows and TV stations after the revolution how do you think you can compete with them?
I think that the spread of TV stations is a very healthy phenomenon, because each new media and journalistic contribution is a new added competitiveness which enriches journalism and media work, and invites everyone to present their best talents to draw in audiences, who are the ones that will judge who is best.
* Private sector Egyptian media received a lot of criticism both before and after the revolution, especially with each station taking a single extreme path either for or against the revolution…
I think even Egyptian viewers are the same, so why blame the media? There’s political awareness available and each station presents the viewer with the service they like. That’s why I think a variety of media TV stations and different opinions is one of the objectives of democracy. At the end of the day the honesty of the reporting stations is on the line seeing as many stations report on the same news at the same time.
* How long do you see political liquidity in Egypt lasting for?
It is a result of 30 years of oppression, so it is natural for this to happen. It will eventually turn into political maturity after learning the practice of democracy in elections, putting a constitution together, and indulging in political parties and civil society movements; they are all new experiences. But what is important during this transitional period in my opinion is learning the skill of quiet debating and dialogue, and respecting and accepting each other’s opinions in general. It is natural for people to disagree, that’s why it feels like this liquidity will last for a while.
* How do you, as a citizen not journalist, see the future of Egypt?
I’m optimistic about it, but I can’t hide my worries about what’s happening right now. I am optimistic though because I believe in the Egyptian people who have carried out the most noble and beautiful revolution which everyone looks up to with pride and admiration. The reason behind my worries is the troublemaking-way of dealing with some issues, extremism, not thinking objectively and scientifically when solving problems.
* What about the poet and writer Jihan Mansour?
The poet and writer Jihan excels at certain times, so that would be political activist Jihan, but now I am worried about my country and politics has won my mind over poetry and writing. I have written many poems in exile especially in Washington, and I felt that those poems took me back to Egypt; but now I am in my erupting country and will be in a state of eruption with them until all the demands of freedom and equality are met. After that I will start writing poetry again, and Jihan the poet will take over political activit Jihan.