Author: Katharina Nötzold (Communication and Media Research Institute University of Westminster)
For more than a decade, Arab media has been undergoing a profound transformation. Undoubtedly Al Jazeera has become the most visible and bestknown symbol of this trend, something which is also reflected in the large output of literature about the station in particular (Miles, 2004; 2005; Nawawy, 2003; Nawawy and Iskandar, 2002) and about ‘The Al-Jazeera phenomenon’ (Zayani, 2005), its effect (Seib, 2008) and its place in the Arab television landscape (Sakr, 2001; 2007). And whereas the plethora of new satellite channels may be the most visible signs of that change in a once dull and heavily regulated media environment, other media such as the internet, social networking sites, blogging (Loewenstein, 2008) and mobile phones have become commonplace in Arab cities. Lynch (2006) sees in that development the opportunity that a multitude of opinions creates the basis for an Arabic public sphere that will shape the future of (governance in) the Arab world. Bloggers have reported incidents of police brutality in Egypt, or the recent appearance of a video clip showing a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family torturing an Afghan, which would never have been covered in the traditional state-owned media; now these reports find their way not only to Western media outlets and advocacy groups but were also reported on in mainstream media in the Arab world and resulted in discussions about misuse of power. Moreover, legal provisions that allow the distribution of licences for new TV stations and newspapers, and the creation of so-called Media Free Zones in several Arab countries, contribute to the impression that the once tightly guarded Arab media market is experiencing not only economic but also political liberalization. These examples may justify the expectations and hopes which several observers and policy makers had pinned on the democratization potential of Al Jazeera and Co., especially in the early days of their emergence.
How to Cite: Nötzold, K. (2017) “Editorial”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 6(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.16997/wpcc.108