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.