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The Egyptian Crisis and the failure of journalism - lost_aesthete [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Si natura negat, facit indignatio versum

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The Egyptian Crisis and the failure of journalism [Feb. 5th, 2011|03:41 pm]
lost_aesthete
Hi, I have been watching the unfolding street protests in Egypt with great interest. I have also been watching closely the reporting of this event with interest. It seems to me that journalism has become the simple representation of events. Journalism used to be about attempting to understand events in a deep way, as expressions of a political or ideological viewpoint. What has happened over the last half century is that Journalism has declined to the point where they no longer have any real opinion that is either considered or insightful. Instead they have grand narratives that simplify a world that is in no way simple or simply present what occurs as a camera presents a photograph. Neither of these modes of reporting are what journalism should be about, journalism should be a filter that helps us to understand what occurs, I buy a newspaper or read an article expecting the writer to have both a) a deep understanding of the event b) a considered opinion of the event. Before I go on I would like you to watch this video...

The Egyptian crisis was immediately reported by the media in the manner of the old grand narrative, of good vs evil, of innocent individuals fighting against corrupt political systems. This idiotic fable fed to us by ignorant journalists utterly fails to take into account both the history of Egypt, the history of popular uprisings in the middle easts or any sort of evaluation taken from the standpoint of real politik. So stupid have our journalists become that they see all political strife as ultimately a moral battle between a side that is good and a side that is evil. I am glad to say that already this idiotic approach to journalism has collapsed before the 'revolution' itself has failed. In their hysterical desire to see the linear progression of a traditional good vs evil narrative come to fruition the journalists forgot that Mubarak is an ally of the west, that he is the only leader in the middle east to have a peace treaty with israel, that the Egyptian armies officers are trained by the Americans and that he has been suppressing a fundamentalist muslim movement called the Muslim Brotherhood. Do the journalists who talk about the will of the people understand the will of the people they are implicitly supporting? Should we support mobs who have regressive views or who are demanding systems of governance that could turn a country with stable secular institutions into a divided failed state? What do they understand about the social forces at work in Egypt and how they would react when suddenly released from the control of a stable, yet not to any degree bloodthirsty dictator? With the massive demographic powder keg growing in the arab world (huge population of young and mostly unemployed men, with little economic opportunity) we are likely to see more unrest and call for reform in a region dominated by paternal autocrats, monarchs and presidential dicatorships. What is needed from the media is not a simplistic good vs evil fairy tale to make things easy to understand, but real reporting on the dynamic and complex problems facing the region and their repurcussions for those of us in the west.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: saithkar
2011-02-11 11:16 am (UTC)
I <3 Charlie Brooker.

The problem for the media and the general public in situations like this is that suddenly everyone has to become an overnight expert on a country who's history and politics they were totally ignorant of before in order to "discuss" or "report" on what is going on there. You see this same story over and over again every time trouble breaks out in somewhere like Ukraine, Thailand or Tunisia. It's not like the Israel/Palestine conflict where everyone knows the basic facts even if they can't bring themselves to push for the obvious solutions to the problem. So when you've got a huge hunger for news about a place people know next to nothing about, you're not going to get informed commentary based on a sound understanding of the political, historical and cultural origins of the current crisis, you're going to get moronic, good guys vs bad guys crap from uniformed reporters to an uniformed audience.
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