Media

From People to Citizens in Tunisia

While Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation will undoubtedly remain the iconic image of the 2011 Tunisian revolution, another set of pictures has also stuck in the minds of Tunisians. On the evening of January 14, despite an army curfew, a man staggered across Avenue Habib Bourguiba, shouting, “Ben Ali fled — the Tunisian people is free! The Tunisian people will not die! The Tunisian people is sacred!”



What’s the Line?

Much of what was written from Egypt on and after January 25, 2011 was captivating and intense — as one might expect from reporters witnessing a democratic movement overthrowing a dictator. But the Beltway reporting that tried to explain US policy was another matter.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Egyptian Media

Ursula Lindsey 02.15.2011

It took 18 days of mass mobilization, the deaths of hundreds and the wounding of thousands, the crippling of Egypt’s tourism industry and the crash of its stock market, to bring an end to the 30-year presidency of Husni Mubarak. And almost every minute of the revolution was televised.

Another War Zone

In late May 2010, the convoy known as the Freedom Flotilla met off of Cyprus and headed south, carrying humanitarian aid and hundreds of international activists who aimed to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The organizers used social media extensively: tweeting updates from the boats; webcasting live with cameras uplinked to the Internet and a satellite, enabling simultaneous rebroadcasting; employing Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and other social networking websites to allow interested parties to see and hear them in real time; and using Google Maps to chart their location at sea. Until shortly after its forcible seizure by Israeli commandos in the wee hours of May 31, the flotilla stayed in touch with the outside world despite the Israeli navy’s efforts to jam its communications. A quarter of a million people watched its video feed on Livestream alone, while many more consumed these images in abbreviated form on television news.

Sects and the City

Moustafa Bayoumi 05.17.2010

I had almost forgotten I’d sent in an application when the e-mail message appeared, like Mr. Big, out of nowhere. “Hi, Moustafa,” it began, as if we were old friends. “Thank you for e-mailing us regarding your interest in working on ‘Sex and the City 2.’ ”

A Web Smaller Than a Divide

Sinan Antoon 05.14.2010

At first glance, there’s a clear need for expanding the Web beyond the Latin alphabet, including in the Arabic-speaking world. According to the Madar Research Group, about 56 million Arabs, or 17 percent of the Arab world, use the Internet, and those numbers are expected to grow 50 percent over the next three years.

Many think that an Arabic-alphabet Web will bring millions online, helping to bridge the socio-economic divides that pervade the region.

Donning the Uniform

In his book The Making of Israeli Militarism, Uri Ben Eliezer described Israel as a nation-in-arms—the Jewish collective identity in Palestine was constructed mainly through the militarization of the society. The Zionist leadership used the army as the principal agent of development and integration. Through mandatory reserve service and seasonal mass maneuvers, the army became the hammer and anvil forging national entity.

Satellite Television and Development in the Middle East

Upon hearing a Dutch diplomat recite a dismal litany of statistics indicating the current social and economic plight of most Middle Eastern states, a Jordanian academic heaved a sigh. “This is a triple tragedy,” she said. “Not only are the figures bad, but they have to be collated by foreign agencies while governments in the region keep people in the dark.”

Short-Circuiting the Media/Policy Machine

Media coverage of the February 1998 showdown with Iraq highlighted subtle but significant changes in the relationship between the mainstream media and US foreign policymaking. Although the major media — despite some alleged soul searching by media professionals [1] after the Gulf war — have changed little since the pro-war hysteria of 1991, activists are discovering more ways to obstruct the media juggernaut and influence policymaking — sometimes by actually using the mass media.

Countering Israel’s Fiftieth on the Internet

The struggle over the historical record and popular memory of 1948 has reached the Internet. A number of websites and posted materials devoted to the Palestinian experience in 1948 known as the nakba (national catastrophe) offer a wealth of information to counter the virtual media silence about the victims of Israel’s independence. Two comprehensive nakba websites have been created by the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem (www.arabstudies.org/mainp.htm) and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah (www.alnakba.org/), both of which provide historical accounts of the nakba, survivors’ testimonies, chronologies and photo galleries.

Al Miskin International/Tainted Love

What is up in Egypt? In Cairo, Mustafa Bakri, was deposed as editor-in-chief of al-Ahrar following the failure of the mutiny he led in the halls of the Liberal Party to depose of its leader, Mustafa Kamal Murad. Bakri stormed the party headquarters with 600 armed followers and had himself voted president. For a few days, two versions of al-Ahrar competed for space on the newsstands. Bakri’s paper made a vain stab at seeking Mubarak’s support by turning even more obsequious than the state-run press. Meanwhile, deposed party head Murad published his own loyalist edition attacking the Bakri cult of personality before the police finally moved in and ended Bakri’s short reign. What triggered the coup?

Column: Globalization and Its Discontents

“Globalization” is currently fashionable among privileged quarters of American society. It stands as the umbrella term for contemporary trends in culture, production, finance, marketing, technology, consumption, ideas, values and institutions that are variously celebrated, denounced, dissected and deconstructed.

Kurdish Broadcasting in Iraq

In the transition from exile to autonomy, Iraqi Kurdish parties have set up the first Kurdish-controlled television channels in the Middle East. Their broadcasts now reach more than half of the estimated 3 to 4 million people in “Free Kurdistan.” [1]

Islam and Public Culture

Walk the streets of Cairo or village lanes in Egypt any early evening and you will see the flicker of television screens and hear the dialogue and music of the current serial (musalsal). Read the newspapers and you will find articles and cartoons that can only be understood if one is following these televised dramas. The serials, usually composed of 15 episodes aired daily, seem to set the very rhythms of national life. Extensive access to television and limited broadcast hours and channels mean that the audience can sometimes include a majority of Egyptians.

Politics and Media in the Arab World

Hisham Milhem is the Washington correspondent of the Beirut daily al-Safir. Born in Lebanon, Milhem has lived and worked in Washington since 1976. Joe Stork and Sally Ethelston spoke with him in Washington in September 1992.

What are the salient features of the power structure of the Arab media? Who controls it? Who sets the tone?

Any generalization is problematic. We’ve been involved in journalism in Lebanon-Syria and Egypt for more than a century. That is why the Lebanese, the Egyptians and the Palestinians have been predominant in the Arab press.

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