News / Middle East

    Arab Spring Brings Successes and Setbacks for Media Freedom

    The Arab Spring uprisings successfully uprooted several long-standing authoritarian governments in the Middle East and North Africa, and led to elections in Tunisia, and next month in Egypt.  But the shift from decades of authoritarian rule to a more open and free society has been bumpy in some cases.  And challenges to press freedom persist across the region.

    When Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned this year, expectations were high that the Arab Spring would bring a blossoming of media freedom.

    But analysts note that events like the government's recent crackdown on protestors in Cairo -- and state media's coverage of the riots -- are only small examples of the challenges journalism continues to face.

    In their coverage of the protests, state media not only claimed the protestors were armed, but also urged the public to come out and support the military.

    Adel Iskandar is an Arab media analyst at Georgetown University here in Washington.

    "This was sort of a reminder that even the state media, the state broadcasters, the state journalistic institutions -- they haven't actually reformed, but have deteriorated in the manner in which they treat news," Iskandar said.

    Independent news organizations disputed Egyptian state media's reporting of the protests.  The military held its own news conference and praised state media for its coverage.

    According to journalists in Egypt, the transitional council has on numerous occasions interfered with programming.

    Yosri Fouda recently suspended his popular talk show "The Final Word" indefinitely to protest government efforts to stifle free expression.

    "We're seeing this tug of war between media institutions that are trying to affirm and assert their freedom to cover stories.  And the military, trying to control the political situation, so it doesn't get out of hand for them," Fouda said.

    Karin Karlekar of the U.S.-based human rights group Freedom House agrees.

    "The impetus to reform hasn’t really happened with the military transitional government.  There have been quite a few crackdowns -- both in terms of arrests of [Internet] bloggers and other types of legal restrictions or sort of saying no one can criticize the military government," Karlekar said.

    Karlekar says the prospects for media reform look better in Tunisia -- the country that ignited a string of uprisings across the region and held landmark elections last Sunday.

    "Tunisia did pass a freedom of information law recently, which was a really good step.  There have been discussions on legal and regulatory reform.  And there have been a lot of local groups, unions, press freedom organizations that have been involved in those discussions," Karlekar said.

    In Syria, where an uprising has been going on for months, analysts say the space for broadcast media is so limited that the Internet remains the only source of information.

    "We are talking about a protest movement that began in mid-February.  So this is a fairly lengthy period of time to not have access to reliable, easily corroboratable information," Iskandar said.

    Footage which purportedly shows Syrian forces shelling the city of Homs on Wednesday is one example of how media access remains tenuous because it can not be independently verified.  Under such conditions, media analysts say it is amazing that the protests have managed to last as long as they have.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.