Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio, and Television in Arab Politics

Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio, and Television in Arab Politics

Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio, and Television in Arab Politics

Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio, and Television in Arab Politics

Synopsis

Since September 11, 2001, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many television viewers in the United States have become familiar with Al Jazeera as offering an alternative take on events from that presented by mainstream U.S. media, as well as disseminating anti-American invective. Westerners have tended toward simplistic views of Arab newspapers, radio, and television, assuming that they are all under government control and that freedom of press is non-existent. William A. Rugh, a long time observer of the Arab mass media, offers a more nuanced picture of the Arab press as it relates to the political situation in the Arab world today.

Excerpt

The flow of information between the United States and the Arab world is overwhelmingly one way, West to East. Arab audiences know much more about America than Americans know about Arabs. Every day, 24 hours a day, Arabs have access to CNN and other American television channels that are relayed to them via satellite. The language barrier is crossed for news going West to East because information from and about the United States is carried almost every day on the front pages of Arab newspapers published in Arabic, and discussed in editorials. Because the United States is the world's only superpower and is involved in many aspects of life in the Middle East and North Africa, and because its foreign policies affect the lives of Arabs in many ways, Arab media editors constantly report on what the United States is doing. Arab television stations typically broadcast reviews of the world's press every morning, and American news is regularly featured. Newsweek now appears in an Arabic version that is available throughout the Middle East.

In sharp contrast with the Eastward flow of information, the Westward flow is meager. Americans know relatively little about the Arab world, and almost nothing about Arab media and what newspapers and television are saying. Part of the reason is the language barrier, since most Arab media are in Arabic and probably fewer than one percent of Americans can read that language. There are a few Arab newspapers printed in English, but they are intended for non-Arabs living in the Middle East so their news and editorial content are quite different from the media in Arabic which

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