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Fig. 1. Courtesy of Bryant Arnold, 2011.

The online journal Arab Media & Society has published its new issue that reflects on the role of social media in the Arab uprisings. Contributors "question and qualify the power of new media to effect long-term political change." All included articles are available online or in the PDF format for download. Arab Media & Society, formerly TBS Journal, is a joint project of The Center for Electronic Journalism at the American University in Cairo and the Centre for Middle East Studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford.

Contents

Robert Hassan: ‘Not Ready for Democracy:’ Social Networking and the Power of the People--The Revolts of 2011 in a Temporalized Context

Robert Hassan argues that high-speed social networking technology disrupts the traditional rhythms of liberal democracy which, since the Enlightenment, have been based on the slower processes of print-based culture.  Digital technology, he maintains, has propelled mass political action in the Arab world, but has left in its wake a political vacuum, with democratic processes struggling to catch up.

Sahar Khamis, Paul B. Gold and Katherine Vaughn: Beyond Egypt’s “Facebook Revolution” and Syria’s “YouTube Uprising:” Comparing Political Contexts, Actors and Communication Strategies

Sahar Khamis, Paul B. Gold and Katherine Vaughn compare and contrast the role of social media in the Egyptian and Syrian uprisings, providing a comprehensive review of the tactics used by both activists and regimes. The ability of new technologies to effect political change, they argue, is determined by pre-existing social, political and communication structures.

Nadav Samin: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Social Media Moment

Nadav Samin looks at the uprising in Egypt from the perspective of Saudi Arabia where an online attempt to initiate nationwide protest in March 2011 met with disinterest from a sector of the digital community. An assessment of social media’s role in the regional uprisings, he argues, must not overlook its ability to reinforce and amplify conservativism in some contexts.

Nabil Dajani: Technology Cannot a Revolution Make: Nas-book not Facebook

Nabil Dajani urges the academic community not to lose sight of traditional and folk media in assessing the role of digital technology in the Arab uprisings, warning that over-reliance on new media platforms to explain the events of 2011 has already led to a failure to understand and anticipate the course of change in the region.

Mohamed Nasser: Private Satellite Channels in Egypt: The Relationship between Ownership and Editorial Policy

Television producer Mohamed Nasser calls Egypt’s privately owned satellite channels a threat to the goals of the revolution and little better than their state-owned counterparts.  He proposes a series of reforms, including legislation to separate ownership and management.

Mahmoud Ghozlan: A Proposal for a Dialogue on Media Reform

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan calls for a society-wide dialogue to discuss the reform of both state and privately owned media, including a ban on individuals owning more than 10 percent of a media outlet.

Maurice Chammah: The Scene of the Crime: October 9th, Maspero, and Egyptian Journalism after the Revolution

In a piece of literary reportage, Maurice Chammah explores media coverage of the violence at Egypt’s state-television headquarters on October 9, 2011, illustrating the growing gap between state-owned and independent media and raising concerns about the blurring line between independent journalists and activists in post-revolution Egypt.

Mahmoud R. Al-Sadi: Al Jazeera Television: Rhetoric of Deflection

Mahmoud R. Al-Sadi analyzes the “anti-establishment” discourse of Al Jazeera host Faisal al-Qasim, revealing a complex rhetorical style that deflects Arab radicalism, nudges viewers towards the pragmatism of Qatar’s foreign policy, and thus serves to reinvent Arab autocracy.

El Mustapha Lahlali: Repetition and Ideology in Nasrallah’s Political Speeches

El Mustapha Lahlali examines the ideological function of lexical repetition in two political speeches of Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, illustrating the ways that Nasrallah employs this rhetorical device to further his ideological agenda and political strategies.

Mark LeVine: Book Review: Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps and Revolutionary Theater: Artistic Developments in the Muslim World

Mark LeVine calls this volume, edited by Karin van Nieuwkerk, a tour de force of cultural analysis of the blossoming production of religiously oriented art, music, and theater in the Muslim world. The book, he writes, will "further the interdisciplinary development of Islamic studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicology and even, it is hoped, the usually drier disciplines such as political science or sociology, both of which could certainly use a bit more rhythm and color in their methodological repertoires in the wake of the region-wide protests and revolutions in which culture has played a powerful and as yet poorly understood role."

Arab Media & Society editorial board members remember the life and career of journalist Anthony Shadid

Rami G. Khouri: Remembering Anthony Shadid’s Craft and Conscience

Daily Star editor-at-large Rami Khouri writes that Shadid’s gift was the blending of his craft and his conscience, his profession and his person.

Jon Alterman: Remembering Anthony Shadid

CSIS Middle East Program Director Jon Alterman traces the career of a friend whose life and reporting embraced ambiguity and complexity.

The latest issue of the Arab Media & Society is available online.