The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Revolution and Counter-revolution in the Media

I have an article in MERIP looking at the communication networks and strategies that the protesters and the government in Egypt each used during their standoff. Here's a bit from the intro:

In the tense and unpredictable days between January 28 and February 11, when Mubarak stepped down, the mood of the TV-watching Egyptian public veered from support of the protesters’ demands to a desire to return to normalcy to sympathy with the beleaguered president and back again. To a large extent, the contest of wills between a spontaneous, grassroots movement and an entrenched authoritarian regime became a battle of words and images, in which issues of national authenticity were paramount and modes of communication vital. Who could legitimately claim to speak for Egypt? Who could not? The protesters and the government debated these questions through very different means -- the former using free-wheeling, peer-to-peer, mostly digital networks, the latter with top-down announcements through channels over which they retain exclusive control.

(On a side note: I hold a deep and personal grudge against some of the state TV announcers who with their incitement put protesters and foreign journalists like myself in serious physical danger. They're all still there, even as state channels have completely jumped on the "youth revolution" bandwagon, and all the footage they wouldn't show during the protests is suddenly being used to make patriotic montages. They should be fired.)