A Shift in Media Power: The Mediated Public Sphere During the ‘Arab Spring’

Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Social Media and the Politics of Reportage, 2014, pp. 123 - 138
Issue Date:
2014
Full metadata record
The Arab Spring protests, as have been discussed in this book, have provided examples of the complex power relations between traditional and new methods of crisis reporting. This chapter aims to conceptualise these relations of power within the mediated public sphere and in turn discuss future implications of these interrelations. Historically, global crisis reporting has been mainly controlled by mainstream journalists, where audiences around the world receive their knowledge of political happenings through dominant media players, such as CNN and BBC World. Yet the wave of political unrest in the Arab world has somehow tipped the power that such dominant news networks hold and left them struggling to ‘control’ the flow of information. The Arab Spring, therefore, has brought about a shift in power where alternative media ‘reporters’ on the streets have risen to play a prominent role in the coverage of these political events. This has been made possible through social media technologies which have allowed alternative reporters, activists and protesters to disseminate information globally. It is therefore necessary to theoretically understand relations of power that have emerged from the interactions between established media and alternative media practitioners, within the mediated public sphere. I have discussed elsewhere (ElGhul-Bebawi, 2009) the interrelationship between alternative and mainstream media more generally, where I have argued that alternative media seek to challenge the power of dominant media; however, there is a need to better theoretically understand the specific nature of power relations between mainstream and social media during the reporting of the Arab Spring.
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