This book examines the evolution of national Arab media and its interplay with political change, particularly in emerging democracies in the context of the Arab uprisings. Investigated from a journalistic perspective, this research addresses the role played by traditional national media in consolidating emerging democracies or in exacerbating their fragility within new political contexts. Also analyzed are the ways journalists report about politics and transformations of these media industries, drawing on the international experiences of media in transitional societies. It builds on a field investigation led by the author and conducted within the project “Arab Revolutions: Media Revolutions,” covering Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt.
This report on Algerian national media and political change is part of the ‘Arab National Media and Politics: Democracy Revisited’ project, which examines the relationship between Arab traditional mass media and the political sphere within the broad subject area of political change in the Arab world. Based on a series of around 30 in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with journalists and media stakeholders in Algeria, as well as analysis of media regulations and individual case studies, this report looks at the role played by national media – radio, television and print – in widening or restricting public debate under a competitive authoritarian system.
The protests of the Moroccan Spring provided the national media with an open season that did not last long. Then, ‘untouchable’ topics were debated in public, including those related to the King’s centralised power. Today, however, journalists work in a controlled media climate. Media rights recognised by the 2011 Moroccan constitution lack clear definition, are negated by many exceptions and are short of international standards. Legal cases against journalists and moral denigration through cases based on private affairs or media spins are used to silence journalists and activists and isolate them socially. Economic boycotts and legal sanctions against independent media projects have made them unsustainable. Lack of professional training and weak job stability are pushing journalist to other professions. Consequently, self-censorship habits are now widespread and with media investment linked to political and ideological agendas, engagement in support of democratic values is not a priority for Moroccan journalists.
Moroccan National Media: Between Change and Status Quo
Introduction by Professor Charlie Beckett, Director of Polis, LSE Media and Communications:
“There had been hopes—partly inspired by the role of social media and platforms such as satellite television in the various uprisings—that news media in Egypt might become more open and play a positive role in any moves towards greater democracy. The mainstream media that this report deals with had been shackled by state influence and clientalism under Mubarak. Yet media reform during this complex political transition was slow, stalled by brutal political struggles. While topics such as media professionalism, fairness in the presentation of opposing viewpoints and media regulatory reform were often highly present in political debates, this did not lead to substantial change. The blurred line between journalism and activism along with the excessive political alignment of media further contributed to a stalled reform process. The media “revolution” is yet to be launched.”
Egyptian Media Under Transition:
In the Name of the Regime... In the Name of the People?