Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011
Originally published on February 8, 2011
Frank Rich, op-ed columnist at the New York Times, made a very important point this week: Revolutions are not about Facebook and Twitter. Revolutions are about human dignity and hunger. It seems that a few journalists are trying to push the (mainstream) media's fascination with the role of (social) media in Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran toward a more realistic point of view. After a prime-time CNN talking head stated that social media are the most fascinating thing about the events in Egypt (!), some senior journalists seem to have had it with the ICT hype. Rich tries to pull attention to why people rise up against their government: "starting with the issues of human dignity and crushing poverty."
The commentary also points out some realities about ICT. Protests against the presidential election in Iran were sometimes branded the "Twitter Revolution" - all of 0.027% of the population in Iran has a Twitter account. A fifth of the Egyptians is online. Mass media, in particular television, may have a much stronger influence on people and their political behavior. In CommGAP's book "Public Sentinel," Lawrence Pintak argues that Arab journalists, in particular those working for Al Jazeera, have become a catalyst for change in the region by acting as a watchdog to governments and by driving a pro-reform agenda. This is not an argument against the role of ICT. It's an argument for looking at the entire media system of a country: an independent media system as a whole can strengthen civil society and lend legitimacy to governments.
One of the biggest demonstration in Egypt yet occurred on a day the Internet had been shut down by the government, Frank Rich quotes CNN anchor Jim Clancy. MSNBC reporter Richard Engel put it this way: "This didn’t have anything to do with Twitter and Facebook. This had to do with people’s dignity, people’s pride. People are not able to feed their families."
Picture: Flickr user Nasser Nouri
- Iran, Islamic Republic of
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Middle East and North Africa
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Richard Engel
- Public Sentinel
- New York Times
- Lawrence Pintak
- Jim Clancy
- Independent Media
- Frank Rich
- Al Jazeera