According to the latest spin, Morocoo's Communication Ministry had banned "people in cafes sharing newspapers with others". That is a common practice in coffee shops around the world, and it is now illegal in Morocco.
Or at least that is what the press reports are saying; if we go back four chains in this game of Telephone we find a different story.
From The Telegraph:
It is a familiar sight in any pub, cafe or train carriage - newspapers being left on seats for others to read, passed from friend to friend, or even handed over to curious strangers.
But in Morocco, the practice has been banned after publishers complained they were losing millions in revenue because people kept sharing them.
Members of the Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Publishers (FMEJ) said the habit of "leaving newspapers behind in public places" was costing their industry $150m each year in lost revenue.
The habit of sharing newspapers, leaving them lying around and generally trying to avoid paying for them was "bleeding the sector," they claimed in an appeal to the Moroccan government.
As a result, the country's communications minster has agreed to ban providing newspapers for free in cafes, as well as lending them.
Mustapha Khalfi said newspaper editors were "suffering" and that the government needed to try and "limit the damage."
"The figures demonstrate just how serious it is," he said in an interview with the Moroccan news website HuffPo Maghreb.
The problem with this story is that it sounds too good to be true. This is a man bites dog type of story for me, and many others in the media, so rather than simply accept it I went looking for confirmation.
And I found it - sorta.
According to the Ministry of Communication's press release, there is no ban on sharing newspapers in public. Instead, the Ministry has agreed that the Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Publishers can offer its input on the draft law which would ban this practice.
There is no ban, nor is there a law which would enact the ban at a future time.
Instead, we have a proposal for a ban.
Or rather, that is what I got out of Google Translate when I fed in the press release. (While there's always a chance that GT screwed up, I have found that officialeeze like public pronouncements usually comes through in the clear.) At the very least, I am more willing to trust Google Translate than I would trust the press. Frankly, you should take the same position, and that includes me.
Would anyone be interested in providing a human translation for the original press release, or other local coverage?
I want to know what's really going on, and whether I am as off as everyone else.
image by andynash