Global Journalism & The Arab Spring

Global journalism blurs the boundaries between nation states and creates new public spaces and global influences (Khorana, 2014). Global news is becoming more prominent, and it can be expected that significant worldwide events are discussed and considered in most news channels. It is interesting however, to observe and analyse the differences in news coverage, of an immediate event, as well as continued reporting.

Take the case of the Arab Spring for example. 

Mideast Libya

The Arab Spring began in 2011 with a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions throughout the Middle East, and has continuing repercussions today (Manfreda, 2014). The Arab Spring sparked 2011 as a year with monumental international journalism, however cultural proximity and the integration of foreign stories with domestic news still played an important role in the coverage of such events.

It is important to consider why international stories are included at all… are they really relevant to our lives on the other side of the planet? CNN’s senior national reporter Ben Wedeman shares his thoughts: I think it’s important that journalists who are serious about covering what is being called the Great Arab Revolt, the Arab Spring, they need big moments because this is a story of huge historical importance that will reverberate for years afterwards.

These foreign news stories were covered in a variety of ways around the world. Overnight, the Arab Spring made news headlines and remained as a focal point for some months later. Gradually some channels progressed to discuss the uprisings within the wider context of worldwide protest, and moved the issue into the sidelines.

Lee-Wright (2012) argues that the New York Times followed a method representing old media: The NYT employed a spectacle frame that hyped violence and drama far more than injustice, sympathy, or legitimizing frames, thus indicating that the excitement, fever, and even volatility of the protestors were more newsworthy, and thus important, than the underlying causes of the protest or the plight of the protestors. Many news organisations also embraced the use of new media in liberating voices across the Arab Spring and the role of social media become quite sensationalistic. While it is not the nature of news to stay with a story beyond the audience’s attention span, the Guardian covered an anniversary of the events, one of the few news channels to do so.

Some areas of conflict also had more coverage than others. For example, Yemen was largely ignored, though nonetheless suffered a serious humanitarian crisis. We must question, why such inequality? Factors such as production costs, company capabilities, and reporting security surely all play a part, but surely one story is not more important than other? Maybe the answer is that one story is more socially and culturally applicable, and fitting to national interest, and when it comes down to making the choice of what will fit on the agenda, news channels want to appeal to a wider audience.

References

Khorana, S. 2014, ‘Who Counts In Global Media? News Values’, Lecture Week 9, BCM111: International Media and Communications, UOW, 24/09/2014

Lee-Wright, P. 2012, ‘News Values: An Assessment of New Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’, in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-20

Manfreda, P. 2014, Definition of the Arab Spring, viewed October 7 2014, http://middleeast.about.com/od/humanrightsdemocracy/a/Definition-Of-The-Arab-Spring.htm

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