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The role of the media and the Internet in the overthrow of the Egyptian regime
Material posted: Publication date: 17-02-2011

In each new revolution, which still occur on Earth, the role of media. In particular this applies, of course, social media was a great tool for coordinating the actions of the masses. But "traditional media" - news agencies, TV stations, even Newspapers - it's a little early to dismiss. Events January-February 2011 in Egypt once again demonstrated this.

1. What's new

In October of 2010 in the magazine the New Yorker released a lengthy sobering article, the author of which is Malcolm Gladwell, a lot of years writing about social microtrend and social effects of technological progress - expressed, referring to prominent researchers and ordinary common sense, a few simple ideas of a "new type of activism", ostensibly formed of Web 2.0. The point was simple: when you already have a revolutionary weight, Web 2.0 really gives it the maximum opportunities for the exchange of information and planning of action; but if the revolutionary masses not to create it through the Web 2.0 it is impossible. To pick one specific person to make a revolution - not enough to be his freedom in Facebook and followers in Twitter, then you'll need a more strong and close social ties. These ideas, however, and was drowned in enthusiastic glee, say "twitternya revolutions" in Moldova (where by the spring of 2009, the microblogging was the one-two and obchelsya) and in Iran (where most of the messages were for some reason written in English and not in Farsi).

With Tunisia and Egypt were all the same. The laurels of the organizer of the Egyptian revolution persistently attributed to a top Manager middle East branch Google Wael Gonia to that already in June 2010 created the "protest" page on Facebook. If the rebellion started on such pages - the fire of world revolution was now blazing across the planet, except maybe remote Islands in the Pacific ocean, far not yet reached the Internet. At least the revolution in Egypt would have started in June 2010 and not in January 2011.

Not creating any "new activism", the Web 2.0 in the case of the Egyptian revolution has become a powerful tool of activism of the old. The best proof of this may be that in the night of 27 to 28 January, the authorities organized a disconnection across the country. Revolution, of course, and not thought to an end: the people and without any of the Internet knew where to go and what to demand, and were sure a lot of them and they are the power.

In addition to the "new activism", in connection with the Egyptian revolution a lot was said about the "new citizen journalism". Say, information about what is happening now is transferred directly by thousands of event attendees.

But here's the thing. Most popular "revolutionary" tweets were... journalists. Dan Nolan of "al-Jazeera" (from the event), Nick Kristof from The New York Times (from the event), Anderson Cooper from CNN (from the event), Andy Carvin from National Public Radio (aggregator), editorial micro-blog "al-Jazeera" (the aggregator) right from them and not from the alleged thousands of ordinary Egyptian mikroblogerov the whole "Twitter" knew in real time what is happening in Egypt. And this is understandable: journalists for and was in Tahrir square and in other "hot spots" to convey information, while the demonstrators came there just after the other. And to read all tweets in a row on the main "revolutionary" hashtags (#egypt, #jan25, #tahrir, #mubarak) was simply impossible - too many. Here helped professional editors who selected and aggregated the key messages.

It turns out that Web 2.0 tools are changing the coordination of the revolution and the genres of her light, in fact left everything in its place: the revolutionaries are rebelling, journalists, and others read, comment on and "sick".


2. A report from the blindfold

For blocking the Internet in Egypt on January 30 was followed by the ban of the TV channel "al Jazeera", which is the most complete and detailed coverage of the revolutionary events and was a main source of news from Egypt for many of the world's media. The calculation was the same: to deprive the demonstrators to exchange information and to be aware of what is happening outside their field of vision. However, this measure did not help the regime of Hosni Mubarak to bring down the wave of protests.

Moreover, "al-Jazeera", despite the ban, continued to work in the same volume. The next day after the ban, January 31, in Cairo detained a film crew of Dan Nolan. Journalists were soon released, but all the equipment they have selected.

On 4 February followed by an attack on the Cairo office of "al-Jazeera" and hacker attacks on its website. However, the channel, in spite of everything, continued to work. All the main events in Tahrir square, he showed in a live broadcast, all the key statements by the representatives of the opposition (including the banned organization "Muslim brotherhood") was heard there.

Supporters of Mubarak, out of nowhere appeared in Cairo February 2 (it was reported that they were brought from all over the country by bus, and that among them were many mercenaries dressed as civilians and police and intelligence personnel), referred to the journalists is hardly more hostile than to the demonstrators. They ran around the streets and broke into hotels in search of foreign correspondents. From their hands has suffered, in particular, the crew of CNN star Anderson Cooper. Upon returning to the U.S. Cooper was probably the most welcome guest of any talk show on American television. On February 9, he appeared in the popular Late Show with David Letterman and blamed the attacks on journalists by Vice-President Omar Suleiman, who has previously stated that the riots "are foreigners".

Every day from Egypt come reports of beatings, detention or disappearance of several journalists. In particular, February 1, in Cairo, the lost crew of the Russian TV channel "Star" in the composition of the correspondent Arkady Nazarenko and operator of Algirdas Mikulskis. Later it turned outthat they are about a day delayed is unknown who is in the throes of unrest and bristling with a variety of posts Cairo, it was in the order of things. February 2 was beaten correspondent of VGTRK Sergey Pashkov. Then went to the crew of Russia Today, which were sandwiched between crowds of supporters and opponents of the regime.

Most of the reported attacks on journalists apply to 2-3 February, when the streets were suddenly overrun by "Pro-Mubarak demonstrators" and peaceful demonstrations gave way to actual street fights. However, the "supporters" failed to repel the protesters the streets, they soon themselves somehow "melt away", and journalists felt more or less safe.

The Egyptian military, though he retained to the last the underlined neutrality in the civil conflict, were also a source of constant worry. For example, reporters of the French TV channel TF1 military 15 hours, kept blindfolded. However, was not beaten. In General, all foreigners who happened to be detained by Egyptian military, stressed that, with the exception of tying the eye, they were treated quite correctly.

Attacked or detained during the Egyptian revolution were representatives of probably all the media that covered it.

As for Egyptian state television, it managed to ignore the protests, even when the participants are measured in the hundreds of thousands. When the score went into the millions, in the air there is only very limited reports of individual "speeches of extremists". Framed these messages cheerful reports about the virtues of stability and how Egypt has been steadily rising from its knees.


3. P. S. And about Iran

Not managed to defeat the revolution in Egypt, how anxious eyes turned towards Iran. That, presumably, begins in the birthplace of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a curious touch that is related to our topic.

What revolutionary weight in Iran has showed the excitement of the summer of 2009. Twitter and other social networks in Iran for a long time and securely locked, but there is much more ancient and powerful method of self-organization of the people: unlike secular Egypt, in Iran a very strong tradition of joint prayers and Friday sermons.

At the peak of the unrest in Egypt, the Iranian service "Bi-Bi-si" showed a live interactive talk show, during which their views about events are able to exchange their Egyptian and Iranian audience. Many Iranians then said that he is very closely monitoring developments in Egypt.

The Iranian authorities, who certainly have not forgotten about the summer of 2009, were not happy with the local "Bi-Bi-si" pays the Egyptian revolution. But this interaction was, apparently, the last straw. February 11 "Bi-Bi-si" saidthat the signal of its satellite, which is being broadcast to Iran, is blocked.

It seems that the Iranian authorities came too late, with "bi-Bi-si", as the Egyptian authorities at the time were late with the shutdown of the Internet and the prohibition of "al-Jazeera". However, revolutions are not made neither in the Internet nor in "al-Jazeera" or the "bi-Bi-si". So someone who, as guardians of the Islamic revolution know.


Artem Efimov

Tags: Africa

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