Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Authoritarian Regimes and the Media

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Authoritarian Regimes and the Media

Article excerpt

THE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL Private Enterprise (CIPE) held a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on June 8 entitled "The State of Journalism Globally: How Authoritarian Regimes Control Information."

CIPE executive director Andrew Wilson set the stage for the discussion by outlining the importance of a free and independent media. "If the press is limited in its ability to reach out and show a variety of viewpoints, democracy suffers," he said.

Deborah Amos, Middle East correspondent for NPR News, said that authoritarian regimes in the Arab world have gotten better at controlling information, despite the advancement of technology and social media. The regimes have "more tools" and are "more subtle" in how they exercise their power, she noted. "They want legitimacy, and to be a crusher of the free press is not a role they want to be in," she said. "So, they use the law, they use subtle pressure."

According to Amos, journalists in authoritarian regimes "know what they're supposed to do...toe the line." In Jordan, for instance, she said it's not uncommon for journalists to receive calls from the palace when the king doesn't like what is being reported.

Amos pointed out, however, that each Arab country has its own unique media environment. …

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