POWs, Dead Dictators, and Journalistic Ethics (CJR.org)

(Oct. 27, 2011) The young Iranian prisoner was no more than fourteen, still caked with a thick layer of dust from the battlefield. He was among thousands of old men and young boys being held in an Iraqi POW camp somewhere outside Basrah. It was September 1980, the early weeks of the Iran-Iraq War, and […]

Tweets from the Revolution (Dateline: Overseas Press Club)

(June 2011) “I was attacked today when I tried to protect some foreigners.” The Facebook message arrived in my inbox early afternoon Pacific time. It was evening in Cairo on Feb. 4, the pivotal “Day of Anger” that would ultimately lead to the downfall of the regime. The young woman who sent the message was a […]

English Lesson: The Moment Has Arrived for Al Jazeera English, Except in the US

[This is a sidebar article to the May/June 2011 cover story, “Breathing Room: Toward a new Arab media,” which you can read here.] Back in November 2008, I skewered Al Jazeera English’s live coverage of election night in the US in an article for CJR.org. “It was a bit like watching a local college TV station try […]

Breathing Room: Toward a New Arab Media (Columbia Journalism Review Cover Story)

(May/June 2011) Before there was Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or even Al Jazeera, there was Hama, Syria. It was 1982 and an anti-government protest was put down with ferocious violence. The Syrian government simply destroyed whole sections of the city, leaving at least ten thousand people dead. But the slaughter went unreported in that closed society. […]

Egypt Through My Students’ Eyes (CJR.org)

(March 2, 2011) “I was attacked today when I tried to protect some foreigners.” The Facebook message arrived in my inbox early afternoon Pacific time. It was evening in Cairo on Feb. 4, the pivotal “Day of Anger” that would ultimately lead to the downfall of the regime. The young woman who sent the message […]

The Al Jazeera Revolution (ForeignPolicy.com)

 (Feb. 2, 2011) As darkness fell on Tahrir Square the night of Feb. 1, a giant makeshift TV screen broadcast Al Jazeera’s live coverage of the Egyptian uprising to the enthusiastic crowd. The channel would later transmit Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s speech, in which he announced that he would not stand for reelection but would […]

Columbia Univ. Dart Center Interview

Columbia Univ. Dart Center Interview For Journalism and Trauma (Feb. 1, 2011) A media scholar explains how Arab news professionals, under siege as governments seek to manage their message, see themselves as agents of change in a turbulent time. Note: A media revolution unleashed 15 years ago with the launch of independent satellite network Al […]

Arab Media Revolution Spreading Change (CNN.com)

(Jan. 31,2011)  Egyptians have overcome their fear of the police state. It is a seminal moment in the history of the Arab world’s largest and most influential nation. The upheaval underscores a grim reality for authoritarian regimes the world over: The electronic dam has burst and with it, their ability to control the flow of […]

Inside the Arab Newsroom: Arab Journalists Evaluate Themselves and the Competition (Journalism Studies)

(Vol. 10 No. 2 April 2009) In the years since 9/11, much has been written about the alleged bias and lack of professionalism in the Arab media. The first cross-border survey of Arab journalists finds that they have a mixed view of their own industry. They are frank about the lack of independence, fairness and […]

Borderless Journalism in Gaza: BBC, CNN-I, and Al Jazeera English offer nuanced coverage of Gaza war

CAIRO (Jan. 21, 2009) – In television terms, Gaza has been déjà vu all over again. U.S. television has been dominated by talking heads parroting Israel’s talking points, the wide shots of bombs exploding and smoke pillars that have become the white noise of Middle East conflict, and the occasional glimpse of a body bag. Here […]