Swedish journalists mull leaving Egypt

Swedish media groups contemplated calling back journalists who are covering the upheaval in Egypt as most Finnish reporters and photographers attempted to flee the country Friday.

Swedish journalists mull leaving Egypt
Anti-Mubarak demonstrators in Cairo on Saturday

Attacks on foreign news media in Cairo, including arrests and assaults, intensified this week as embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rejected protesters’ demands to stand down immediately after three decades in power.

Although no media organizations had yet recalled their staff, many reporters were being asked to stay in their hotel rooms.

“This of course is having huge consequences since they can not be on site themselves and see with their own eyes what is going on,” said the head of Sveriges Radio’s (SR) foreign service, Christina Gustafsson.

“Instead they have to watch TV images and stuff like that and from that try to report.”

A similar debate was taking place in neighboring Finland as most Finnish journalists in Egypt were reportedly trying leave the country. Among them were reporters from Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper and commercial broadcaster MTV3.

“The atmosphere has been constantly worsening and journalists have become targets,” John Palmen, a photographer with the Iltalehti daily told Finnish news agency STT.

“The situation started turning so that we were enemy number one. Also at the hotel they started quizzing us on what we were reporting on. We are leaving at the last minute,” he added.

Finnish public broadcaster YLE however said its reporters would remain in Egypt until Sunday.

Swedish public broadcast SVT said Friday that its reporter Bert Sundström was still in serious but stable condition after having been stabbed in Cairo a day earlier.

It is not yet known how the reporter, who also suffered a head injury, came to be attacked or how ended up at a hospital in the Egyptian capital, SVT said.

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Google News to return to Spain after seven-year spat

Google announced Wednesday the reopening of its news service in Spain next year after the country amended a law that imposed fees on aggregators such as the US tech giant for using publishers’ content.

Google News to return to Spain after seven-year spat
Google argues its news site drives readers to Spanish newspaper and magazine websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue.Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

The service closed in Spain in December 2014 after legislation passed requiring web platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay publishers to reproduce content from other websites, including links to their articles that describe a story’s content.

But on Tuesday the Spanish government approved a European Union copyright law that allows third-party online news platforms to negotiate directly with content providers regarding fees.

This means Google no longer has to pay a fee to Spain’s entire media industry and can instead negotiate fees with individual publishers.

Writing in a company blog post on Wednesday, Google Spain country manager Fuencisla Clemares welcomed the government move and announced that as a result “Google News will soon be available once again in Spain”.

“The new copyright law allows Spanish media outlets — big and small — to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content,” she added.

“Over the coming months, we will be working with publishers to reach agreements which cover their rights under the new law.”

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at the failure of Google particularly to pay them a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news stories.

Google argues its news site drives readers to newspaper and magazine websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue and find new subscribers.