Media monitoring on steroids

The US Department of Homeland Security is funding a program to get several universities to develop software to monitor foreign media for their sentiments on US policy. Press freedom people don't like it, but I don't see why not. What, don't they know that governments already monitor these things? It'd be nice to have a resource on the foreign media, it's important for the US government to follow debates in other countries, and they might even learn something from it. For the Arab world it would certainly be nice to have an Arab press monitoring service that doesn't have an agenda like MEMRI and would place articles in the context of the reputation of their writer and the publications they are printed in. The BBC Monitoring Service, for one, is a quite decent basic source of info of that kind. But people are so suspicious of US security policy these days that they automatically see a threat. It won't be if it's done transparently, is peer-reviewed, and doesn't spin things.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.