The new media arena

 28 Nov 2013 - 7:01

Arab media has been shaped into one dimension, to adapt submissively to the attitudes and desires of the dictatorial authorities controlling power in each country. Egypt’s Sawt Al Arab radio (Arabs’ Voice) claimed in 1967 that Arab armies had managed to defeat the enemy, and described the supposed downing of their jets as flies falling down in droves. The reality on the ground, however, was that Arab armies were facing the most humiliating defeat. Jerusalem, the rest of Palestine, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, northern Jordan (Ghore and the West Bank), and a key part of Syria (the Golan Heights and its rivers) had already fallen into the hands of the enemy (Israel). 
This defeat was then called a “setback”, before the most important victory followed when Israel came close to assassinating the great leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and overthrowing his progressive Arab nationalist regime.
All newspapers, magazines, television and other media were managed, whether publicly or secretly, in line with the agendas and attitudes of each state. No matter could be read or listened to unless it was approved and passed through the censorship of the authorities and their agents. Even privately owned media was not exempt from that — all were under control and not allowed to go out of the official track. Privately owned media turned into a government tool to evade pressure from foreign governments and human rights organisations by claiming that they were free and independent and had no problem discussing negative issues in their countries. 
This situation still exists as the traditional Arab media establishments and their prominent figures are still linked to the authorities and serve as their tools. The past three years, however, have brought in significant changes wherein different rules were laid down and a new reality was imposed on the process of shaping the media. This may lead to a radical revolution which can eradicate everything that is taken for granted or considered immutable or ineradicable on the Arab media stage. 
The revolutions that have swept some Arab countries are just the beginning of a major and deep shift. History will not stop at a specific point. We have seen the way the new generation has used the new media and exploited social networking websites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to overthrow authoritarian regimes and dictatorial leaders, reveal conspiracies, and expose corruption and political authoritarianism.
The new media has managed to counter the traditional media and cross all red lines in ways that gave a chance to virtual space to shape the public space. This, in turn, has helped create consciousness and understanding and contributed to change that will spread everywhere. It is only a matter of time, as history teaches us.

Arab media has been shaped into one dimension, to adapt submissively to the attitudes and desires of the dictatorial authorities controlling power in each country. Egypt’s Sawt Al Arab radio (Arabs’ Voice) claimed in 1967 that Arab armies had managed to defeat the enemy, and described the supposed downing of their jets as flies falling down in droves. The reality on the ground, however, was that Arab armies were facing the most humiliating defeat. Jerusalem, the rest of Palestine, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, northern Jordan (Ghore and the West Bank), and a key part of Syria (the Golan Heights and its rivers) had already fallen into the hands of the enemy (Israel). 
This defeat was then called a “setback”, before the most important victory followed when Israel came close to assassinating the great leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and overthrowing his progressive Arab nationalist regime.
All newspapers, magazines, television and other media were managed, whether publicly or secretly, in line with the agendas and attitudes of each state. No matter could be read or listened to unless it was approved and passed through the censorship of the authorities and their agents. Even privately owned media was not exempt from that — all were under control and not allowed to go out of the official track. Privately owned media turned into a government tool to evade pressure from foreign governments and human rights organisations by claiming that they were free and independent and had no problem discussing negative issues in their countries. 
This situation still exists as the traditional Arab media establishments and their prominent figures are still linked to the authorities and serve as their tools. The past three years, however, have brought in significant changes wherein different rules were laid down and a new reality was imposed on the process of shaping the media. This may lead to a radical revolution which can eradicate everything that is taken for granted or considered immutable or ineradicable on the Arab media stage. 
The revolutions that have swept some Arab countries are just the beginning of a major and deep shift. History will not stop at a specific point. We have seen the way the new generation has used the new media and exploited social networking websites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to overthrow authoritarian regimes and dictatorial leaders, reveal conspiracies, and expose corruption and political authoritarianism.
The new media has managed to counter the traditional media and cross all red lines in ways that gave a chance to virtual space to shape the public space. This, in turn, has helped create consciousness and understanding and contributed to change that will spread everywhere. It is only a matter of time, as history teaches us.