“I would like to say to the coming generations that God does not hold back his rewards from those who work well. I was working in layout in the 1960s when Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, former chairman of the board of Al-Ahram Establishment, sent us to international exhibitions in England and Germany.”
“We wanted to tie the editing and design processes at the daily Al-Ahram newspaper together and to be able to do both on one floor of the building. The British came up with a solution to this problem, developing insights owed to Egyptian journalist Gabriel Tekla. We later were able to introduce advanced design technology to Al-Ahram, transforming the old layout rooms into electronic design suites using computers,” remembered Al-Ahram Weekly editorial consultant Samir Sobhi, one of four journalists winning the Press Syndicate’s Pioneers of Journalism Awards in 2016.
“It is a matter of personal pride to me that 25 years ago in the first issues of the Weekly we were able to use this advanced technology, with editorial and design being joined together in ‘cool print’ journalism. Nowadays, the younger generation finds everything ready for them, and even people who never leave the house can be successful journalists using the new technology,” Sobhi said.
Three other Pioneers of Journalism Awards winners were journalists Ragi Enaya, Awatef Sherbash, and Fatma Al-Attar.
On 28 December, the Downtown Cairo headquarters of the Press Syndicate saw the awarding of 36 Excellence in Journalism prizes. The jury was chaired by Chairman of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qallash and included Secretary-General Gamal Abdel-Rehim and head of the Cultural Committee Mohamed Kamel. The names of the winners were announced earlier on 8 December.
Ahmed Amer was awarded a Certificate of Achievement for his story in the Weekly entitled “From Cairo to the Benghazi Front Line” and another story about Libya published in Al-Ahram Al-Arabi. Journalist at Al-Ahram daily Hosni Kamal was awarded a certificate for his series of interviews about the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt.
Al-Ahram daily journalists Maher Badr and Nematallah Abdel-Rahman were awarded second prize for environmental journalism, and Al-Ahram Al-Arabi journalist Maher Zohdi won second prize for art journalism. Ahmed Al-Sebani and Dina Mustafa from Al-Ahram Al-Iqtisadi won second prize for a feature about embezzled funds. Al-Ahram Gate website photo-journalist Mohamed Hassanein won first prize for photography for his coverage of the collapse of the Al-Fagallah building in Cairo.
Amr Al-Sawi received two Certificates of Appreciation for infographs published in Al-Ahram daily. Journalist at Al-Ahram Al-Masaai Abdel-Rahman Al-Abadi was awarded a certificate for his story about problems in the Ministry of Higher Education.
Other winners included Mohamed Abu Deif, a journalist at Al-Watan, and Iman Al-Warraqi, a journalist at Al-Youm Al-Sabei. Both Al-Ahram Al-Arabi and the Sabah Al-Kheir magazine were given Freedom of the Press Awards.
“I was unable to go to the awards myself, so my son went on my behalf. What made me really appreciate the prize was the fact that those working at Al-Ahram had nominated me,” Sobhi said. Over the course of a long career, Sobhi has been a journalist on Al-Ahram daily, one of the founders of the Weekly, and a member of the Press Syndicate for 58 years responsible for teaching many generations of journalists.
“I was surprised that Al-Ahram Al-Arabi won the prize, though it was a very pleasant surprise. It has aimed to stand for national journalism, or journalism that expresses the feelings of the nation, our real employer. According to the constitution, the national newspapers are the property of the nation. Al-Ahram Al-Arabi has always been a discussion platform for all. We even publish opinions different to mine as chief editor,” commented Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Al-Arabi Alaa Al-Attar.
“We publish material on artistic, cultural and economic issues. In April 2014, we published a whole issue on Shabab Masr ghadban leh? (Why are Egypt’s Youth Angry?) for example. We told the country why its young people were angry and warned of many of the things that are occurring now,” he said.
Eleven journalists who passed away last year were granted awards, including Mustafa Al-Gouweiki, Ezzat Shaaban, Farouq Abouzeid, Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, Hazem Hashem, Abdel-Azim Menaf, Mohamed Youssri Mowafi, Mahmoud Aref, Gamal Kotb, Souheir Gabr and Sarah Imam. Colleagues earning PhD and Masters degrees received awards, and a documentary on the history of the syndicate was screened entitled Nabd Wattan (Pulse of a Nation).
“This job gives back to whoever gives to it. Despite all the difficulties of the job, despite everything, it gives back to those who put the effort in,” Al-Attar concluded.