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Media on Media Roundup (November 8)

[Arabic sign warning of camera surveillance] [Arabic sign warning of camera surveillance]

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup revolves around a number of issues dealing with freedom of expression, dictators on social media, and memes as a political vehicle.

A newly published report entitled “140 Characters” claims that Arab gulf states are surveilling, imprisoning, and silencing activists for social media posts, citing testimony from Human Rights Watch that a number of journalists and activists have been tracked down using high-tech social media surveillance.

Moreover, with 2 November marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Reporters Sans Frontiers released a list of "press freedom predators," mainly composed of Gulf monarchs and leaders.

Just ahead of the US presidential elections, The Guardian newspaper examines how online memes have become a major political tool in the effort to gain publicity and popularity among voters.

With social media posing a threat to dictatorships who have typically reacted with internet censorship and blackouts, dictators like Bashar Al-Assad are beginning to utilize social media platforms like Instagram to portray themselves in a positive light, but does Instagram have any authority over the content these dictators publish?

In other news, Al Jazeera questions western media’s coverage of the Mosul battle, exploring the problematic rhetoric of the West’s use of the same liberation discourse it used in the 2003 Iraqi occupation period.

All of these stories and more are available below in further detail.

Media and Politics

Meme warfare: How the power of mass replication has poisoned the US election
Source: The Guardian
This article looks at how political memes have become a powerful propaganda tool, and their ability to shape public opinion.

Can battle over public broadcasting bring down Netanyahu?
Source: Al Monitor
After calling for the opening of a new public broadcasting corporation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is criticized in this article after having caused a major political dispute now that he has changed his mind and wants to close it.


Gainax, Saudi Arabia’s Arinat make 3-minute "Desert Knight" trailer
Source: Anime News Network
"Desert Knight" is a Japanese anime series set in the Arabian Peninsula, becoming a first of its kind.

Khalid Abdalla: 'I didn't have the right to play Arab roles unless I had lived the struggle'
Source: The Guardian
This article follows Khalid Abdalla’s career as a documentary filmmaker in post-revolution Egypt

Portrait of Iraq’s Picasso
Source: Financial Times
A closer look at Dia al-Azzawi’s paintings that uncannily resemble those of Picasso’s, except for the fact that they’re inspired by Arab poetry and the Arab political discourse.

Media Industries

Comedy Central greenlights satirical news program focused on Middle East
Source: AV Club
In an attempt to break stereotypes about the Middle East, the new show uses satire to make fun of the US media practices while covering the region.

Newspapers bear the brunt of "advertising recession"
Source: Khaleej Times
With the rise of online media, newspapers and magazines in the GCC countries are most affected by the decline in ad revenue.

الجزيرة من قطر..معركة الوعي العربي
المصدر: عربي 21
تلقي هذه المقالة الضوء على الدور الأساسي الذي لعبته قناة الجزيرة على طيلة 20 عاماً في تفعيل الوعي العربي أمام الأنظمة الحاكمة.

Freedom of Journalists/Expression

Report: Arab Gulf states are surveilling, imprisoning, and silencing activists for social media posts
Source: The Intercept
A newly published report prepared by HRW, denouncing the increased levels of online censorship and surveillance Find the report here

Meet the Middle East's "press freedom predators"
Source: Alaraby Aljadeed
Marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the RSF has released a list of ‘press freedom predators’ featuring a number of Arab monarchs and leaders.

International community condemns Turkey’s "ruthless" crackdown
Source: Rudaw
Over 160 media outlets have been forced to shut down by Turkish authorities after the failed coup in July. This article cites Turkey’s HRW director to comment on the dire situation for the media, in light of the ongoing violation of freedom of expression.

About the International Day to End Impunity
Source: UNESCO
This article looks at why the UN has pushed towards implementing protective measures to insure that journalists and media personnel around the world can operate independently and freely.

Egypt bans TV interview with corruption critic
Source: Al Jazeera
Interviewing former chief auditor Hesham Genena, Egypt’s Edward Snowden who is currently on trial after exposing governmental corruption totalling $75bn, has officially become illegal.

Has Social Media Killed Free Speech?
Source: Forbes
Though not directly aimed at the Middle East, the article argues that online freedom of expression is in jeopardy especially when social media outlets are acting more as "editors-in-chief" over what gets published and does not.

Demystifying social media censorship--in Arabic, Spanish and English
Source: Global Voices
The article criticizes the fluidity of online censorship laws, by shedding light on the increasing requests by governments to remove content from social media platforms.

In Oman, independent media suspended until further notice
Source: Global Voices
The article covers the closure of Oman’s first independent online newspaper which have caused major waves of anger among Omanis who are worried over the future of freedom of expression in country.

طرد فريقي قناتي "الجزيرة" و"العربية" من تغطية عمليات تحرير الموصل واعتقال صحافي ياباني
المصدر: القدس العربي
تلقي هذه المقالة الضغوطات التي يتعرض لها الصحافيون اثناء تغطيتهم للحروب والنزاعات، خاصة في حال تعدد الأطراف المتنازعة وإختلاف وجهات النظر.

Social Media

Dictators in the age of Instagram
Source: The New Yorker
The author contemplates whether or not Instagram has the authority to censor Bashar Bashar al-Assad’s account, even when it does not violate any of the platform’s content policies.

How social media is preventing the ISIS advance online
Source: Economic Times
This article provides an extensive explanation to how social media platforms are proactively deterring IS online propaganda.

Media Practices

Reporting on Mosul and Aleppo: Mirror opposites
Source: Al Jazeera
This episode of ‘Listening Post’ looks at how mainstream media’s reporting the battle of Mosul differs from Aleppo’s, describing the editorial decisions in the process.

Lebanon and the rubbish crisis
Source: Al Jazeera
This episode of ‘The Listening Post’ looks at Lebanese media outlets as it examines the sectarian and political affiliation of each TV channel and how it affects reporting.

Mosul blogger defies ISIS by listening to violinist Itzhak Perlman
Source: CNN
The article looks closer at the "Mosul Eye" blog, which has recently been gaining global attention for its inside coverage of the raging battle around the city.

Citizen journalism is playing a crucial role in Syria–but it comes at a cost
Source: Wired
Chris Baraniuk looks closely at ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently’, a citizen-led online media outlet in Syria, and how it has been adapting its coverage practices with the ongoing fighting, in order to ensure the safety of ‘journalists’ on the ground.

Anti-US talk dominates Iranian media on anniversary of hostage crisis
Source: Al-Monitor
Al-Monitor reviews a number of prominent Iranian media outlets’ coverage of the anniversary of the 1979 hostage crisis.

"مونديال القاهرة" يدعو للتمسك بالقيم العليا للإعلام
المصدر: البوابة نيوز
الأمين العام لجامعة الدول العربية يدعو إلى ضرورة محاربة الإعلام المتطرّف الذي يسعى لنشر الحقد والتعصّب.

بأي لغة عربية نكتب؟
المصدر: شبكة الإنترنت للإعلام العربي
تقدّم هذه المقالة مقارنة ما بين اللغة العربية المستخدمة في الروايات وفي العمل الصحافي.

فوضى الإعلام وإعلام الفوضى
المصدر: الإتحاد
تلخص هذه المقالة محاضرة حول الأخطاء في ممارسات الإعلام العربي في ظل عدم التزامه بالمعاهدات والمواثيق التي تنظم عمله، بالإضافة إلى السعي نحو خلق جمهور متلقياً "مؤمناً".

Is it wrong to call Mosul battle a "liberation"?
Source: Al Jazeera
Raed Jarrar argues that US media narrative of the Mosul battle is stuck in a pro-US propaganda discourse, and suggests that we look at the sectarian affiliations (after the occupation of Iraq), the imposed sanctions, and the ‘myth’ that the US plays the role of savior in Iraq.


A new role in journalism: the digital fixer
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
Not specifically about media in the Middle East, the article sheds light on a new role in today’s connected journalist: the digital fixer.

New Report: New Frontiers in Newsgathering
Source: TOW Center for Digital Journalism
Though not directly related to media in the Middle East, this report explores technology’s implications for reporting political unrest: how and why the protestors and official sources used chat apps, and the ways foreign reporters used chat apps (which are typically closed platforms) for newsgathering, internal coordination, and information sharing.

From Jadaliyya Media Roundups

Yemen: Freedom of expression suffering greatly during conflict, says new report on media and journalists
Source: Arabian Peninsula Jadaliyya Media Roundup
Journalists are targeted, abducted or killed, and the right to freedom of expression is curtailed, says the new report, “Let Them Speak.”

How We See Syria
Source: Syria Jadaliyya Media Roundup
The evolving conflict has forced news agencies and their photographers to adapt. 

[Media On Media Roundup" is an initiative to survey published material in the news and broadcast media that deals with journalism, coverage, or mass communication practices about the region. These roundups are produced and curated in collaboration with the American University of Beirut's Media Studies ProgramThe items collected here do not reflect the views of Jadaliyya or the editors of the Media Page.]  

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