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Month: October 2022

Reflecting @ the Midterm Point

I will admit that I came into this class with a narrow perspective and western assumptions. Without any real knowledge, I had already clumped all MENA countries together as conservative states with strict censorship systems and weak medias. Even after studying abroad in Jordan this past summer, I was oblivious to the different mediums available to me and the public, as well as how private news channels and the state used the media. Frankly, this class has made me extremely frustrated in myself for not taking advantage of the mediums around me to explore the limits and gray areas within the media. Now, more than ever, I am excited to learn more in the next half of the class and better understand the true intricacies and pressure points that go into the relationship between the media and politics.

The one topic that has surprised me the most so far is:

How the emergence of satellite TV, not only deteriorated the government’s monopoly of information, but created a more competitive media market, where both international and domestic news outlets and states vied for viewership.

What originally drew my interest was the role of CNN in providing the world 24-hour news on the Gulf War from 1990-1991. Naturally, the Arab countries did not want citizens relying on American TV and thus, begun creating their own 24-hour news channels. As the number of channels grew, consumers now had channels upon channels to choose from.

There were two results:

  1. The deterritorialization of TV stations:
    1. States created replicas of popular channels from other countries; by doing so, the TV sphere consisted of many channels with very similar content (9/29 class discussion)
  2. Improving channels’ entertainment values
    1. With the increase in channels, states were encouraged to improve the quality of their channels; specifically, by making them more interesting with additions such as more journalists and more news stories (9/20 class discussion)

Thinking Differently?

Honestly, this class has so far made me act more carefully, especially online, in regard to what I say, what I do, and even what I “like.” Censorship is a serious thing especially in the MENA region, where one post or one tweet could cost you your life.

I feel as though I have also become more attentive to the different news channels and their content; asking questions about whether it leans towards a certain political ideology, who owns it and how are they funded? etc.

Lebanon Migrant Boat Tragedy

I wanted to use this blog post to discuss the migrant boat tragedy in Lebanon. On Wednesday morning, September 21st,  more than 150 people were aboard a small boat fleeing crisis-ridden Lebanon in hopes of a better life in Italy. The passengers were mostly Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian, some of whom were both children and elderly. 

Four hours after leaving Lebanon’s shores, the engine quit, and the boat capsized off the Syrian port of Tartous.  Almost immediately approximately 100 people died; bodies were floating everywhere, while survivors clung to the overturned boat. Despite Lebanese authorities refusing to help and threatening to kill anyone who returned, 20 people were rescued, either swimming to the Syrian shore or picked up by Syrian and Russian boats. Currently, the survivors are either still recovering in Syrian hospitals or have been returned to Lebanon. 

This deadly smuggling operation forces necessary attention to the underlying problems forcing both Lebanese citizens and other asylum seekers to attempt such a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. The most prevalent issue in Lebanon is the endemic and crippling poverty exasperated by the 2019 financial crisis. 

As we have discussed in earlier blog posts, Lebanon is also the temporary home of a massive group of refugees from Syria and Palestine who the majority, live in cramped and thrown together camps across the country. Unfortunately, these refugees, specifically Palestinian refugees, are denied basic rights; without citizenship and no access to healthcare or education. Even if one tried to make a living in Lebanon, most are marginalized and disenfranchised, barred from owning property and from entering fruitful professions. 

Sad to say, this situation is not unusual; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that “approximately 3,500 individuals attempted to make the journey this year alone.”

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