Monday, April 1, 2013

Morning Brief: Egyptian satirist arrested and questioned by police; the NYT announces new 'appification' effort

Popular television satirist Bassem Youssef was arrested and questioned by Egyptian police, accused of insulting Islam and Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Youssef was released after three hours of questioning.

The arrest warrant was issued on SaturdayYoussef was released on bail of 15,000 Egyptian pounds, or around $2,200 U.S.

"Touched by people's support and media attention,however, there are many more activists being prosecuted that deserve to get that support," Youssef said via his Twitter account.

This is not the first time the comedian, often referred to as the Jon Stewart of the Middle East, has been hauled in for questioning. Earlier this year the host was investigated for similar activities.

Youssef's show originally was seen only through YouTube, but "el Barnameg" or "The Program" was picked up by an independent satellite network following the January 2011 revolution.

The New York Times announced a new "appification" initiative with the signing of a deal with the developer of Angry Birds, the Finnish computer game developer Rovio Entertainment. The initiative is an attempt to improve the fortunes of the venerable newspaper.

"There is no question that we will need to make new efforts to reach a younger audience," said new NYT Co. CEO Mark Thompson. "Possibly presenting news and opinion in a more game-oriented way will allow The New York Times to reach an audience previously only interested in free news on the web."

The first app will feature a variation of the classic Angry Birds game, only with popular columnists featured.

"Most announcements coming out of newspaper companies say that'heads will roll' – now, I suppose, you can say they will fly," said Thompson, the former Director-General of the BBC.

Mikael Hed, CEO at Rovio said his company was excited about the prospect of working with the NYT on new apps. "This will present us with a new and interesting challenge." Though the app developer was quick to admit that "there's is only so much we can do, of course. We're not miracle workers."