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The Eyewitness Texture of Conflict: Contributions of Amateur Videos in News Coverage of the Arab Spring

Michael Lithgow & Michèle Martin | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: Our paper uses the events of the Arab Spring to examine amateur videos as a discourse of conflict produced by untrained and unpaid individuals, often at great personal risk, and which is taken up by, and incorporated into, news outcomes by professional news networks. The different semiotic elements comprising amateur images used in news coverage create what we call an “eyewitness texture” that reflects not only the generally low quality technologies in use and non-professional camera skills, but the sensibilities of a public desire for proximity and immediacy, which is sometimes utilised by news organisations as a means to authenticate their coverage with affective and narrative features.
The corpus of our study includes the amateur footage used in news coverage of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya during the first 100 days of the Arab Spring uprisings (December 17th 2010 to March 31st 2011) by France 24 and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Our paper uses a multi-pronged discourse analysis to reveal a range of priorities at work in the selection and use of amateur images. We notice that the inclusion of the eyewitness textures of amateur produced images in some cases implied meanings that tied news narratives to larger and largely ideological forms of discursive significance.

Journalism’s Rewriting of History in Reporting the Arab Spring

Hanne Jørndrup | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: Investigation of journalism’s role as writer and rewriter of the record of political episodes of world importance is central to this article, which takes an empirical approach in choosing the Danish press coverage of The Arab Spring as its starting point. The article analyses how a number of historical references to, in particular, European revolutionary history from Eastern Europe in 1989, are woven into the journalistic descriptions of events in Tunisia and Egypt. But the analysis also reflects on journalism’s own historical precedents in that field. Therefore, this paper takes the topics and circumstances that put Tunisia and Egypt on the Danish media’s agenda in the year before the Arab revolutions as a starting point. The central point of this comparison is to convey how journalism, while describing contemporary events of The Arab Spring, at the same time rewrites its own prior commentary on the region. Rewriting history in this way gives journalism a neutral and unassailable position as observer of events of world-wide importance, but it brings in its train other problems with staying true to both the readers and to unfolding events.

Changing Revolutions, Changing Attention? Comparing Danish Press Coverage of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Syria

Mikkel Fugl Eskjære | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: The Arab Spring has generated unprecedented attention to the Arab world in Western news media. This paper presents a comparative study of Danish press coverage of the uprisings in Tunisia and Syria during the early months of the Arab Spring (January-March 2011). The study is based on a mixed quantitative and qualitative content analysis aimed at identifying patterns of news reporting of the Arab Spring. The investigation looks into whether temporal developments of the Arab revolutions, the level of journalistic presence in the region, and national differences influence Danish press coverage of the Arab Spring.
The findings indicate that media coverage of the Arab Spring points in different directions. On the one hand there has been a remarkable increase in media attention to the Middle East in purely quantitative terms. On the other hand the study finds that a number of traditional media patterns persist, not least in relation to media perceptions of Islam and democracy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the ability to reform the Arab world from the inside.

Altering Courses in Unknown Waters: Interaction between Traditional and New Media during the First Months of the Syrian Uprising

Lorenzo Trombetta | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: This papers aims at investigating the relationship between traditional and social media during the first six months of the Syrian uprising. Thanks to direct testimony made available to the author by various cyber activists inside and outside Syria and through constant monitoring of the official propaganda and the coverage of the Syrian events by the two main pan-Arab satellite TVs, this article intends to investigate how both the regime and the activists attempt to represent the “real events on the ground”. In a country where the foreign and pan-Arab press have been mostly expelled since the beginning of the protests and the consequent repression, these two opposite poles heavily fight on the media level. On the one hand, the propaganda dominates traditional media and has sought to show familiarity with new methods, while maintaining the same content and rhetorical tone. On the other hand, the activists, masters of the new media, attempted to overcome the limitations of their tools, aiming at more traditional forms of communication. In both cases, the Internet has emerged as the main weapon of this media confrontation.

The Arab Spring is a Latin American Winter: TeleSUR’s “Ideological Approach” and the Breakaway from the Al-Jazeera Network

Massimo Di Ricco | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: The Arab Spring represents a breaking point in the cooperation between the pan-Latin American satellite television TeleSUR and Al-Jazeera. Even if in February TeleSUR firmly condemned the closure by Egyptian authorities of the Al-Jazeera Cairo offices, NATO military intervention in Libya and the beginning of protests in Syria provoked an important change in TeleSUR coverage of the Arab Spring. This shift coincided with a departure from the Al-Jazeera network, sanctioning the possible end of a collaboration that always had strong political connotations. TeleSUR joined the cause of the protesters in the coverage of the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings, meanwhile it took what we can refer to as an “ideological approach” in the coverage of the uprisings after the international intervention in Libya, implicitly embracing the official media version of the Arab regimes. This stance sparked controversy especially within grassroots Latin American movements, igniting a strong debate mainly visible on the web. At an international level, the undeclared departure from the Al-Jazeera network reflects the future split between leftist Latin American governments, who embrace and fund the multi-state TV network TeleSUR, and the forces that will come out from the Arab Spring. Finally, the Arab Spring represented a missing opportunity for TeleSUR to play an important role in global media, and not only for a national or regional audience. Indeed, TeleSUR gave more importance to the political interests of the channel’s founders, than in pursuing a balanced information out of ideological interests or geopolitical strategies.

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