Egypt’s Answer to ‘Street Cred’ for Reporters

By Genevieve Long Belmaker
for the Foreign Policy Association

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Getting ‘Street Cred’ in Egypt

Friday, February 4 6:05 am EST

Journalists and reporters have an unofficial badge of honor they work for in their careers: credibility. Or what people in the media industry sometimes jokingly refer to as “street cred.” It is usually earned by reporting under dangerous, extremely taxing, or even life-threatening circumstances.

An extreme example is a story I heard from a former journalist who worked for NPR in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980′s. He told me that he and another journalist were once kidnapped while working on a story. That’s serious street cred. Other stories I have heard include things like riding in a vehicle on rough roads in a third-world country while trying to outrun gunfire. Or breaking a leg while on night patrol with US soldiers in Afghanistan and walking on it all night to get out of enemy territory.

Those examples of street cred so infallible that the reporter instantly earns a certain level of respect. Those, and many other stories, involved journalists who went to the verge of the battle–whatever it might have been–and got a little too close for their own personal safety. Luckily, they made it out alive.

The situation in Egypt is likewise forcing numerous journalists into this category of those who have brushed up against danger and death and lived to tell the tale. But the problem is, reporters in Egypt shouldn’t be getting attacked, kidnapped, arrested, detained, and beaten with iron bars. Not that it should ever happen anywhere, but Egypt’s track record in an extremely short period of time is so bad that it should do more than raise eyebrows back home. It should awaken alarm, because targeting journalists is an obvious intention to hide the truth from the world.

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