[QODLink]
Listening Post
The Arab Spring's spin doctors
A look at how embattled Arab governments have employed the services of Western PR companies to clean up their image.
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2012 13:58

Since the beginning of the Arab revolutions, embattled regimes have faced a barrage of criticism in the press. From Tunisia to Bahrain, each piece of news about the uprisings has been fought over in a pitched battle to control the media message.

Operating behind the scenes in these media wars is a coterie of PR firms contracted by Arab governments to counter criticism and to clean up their image.

Consulting companies like the Washington-based Qorvis Communications and the London-based Bell Pottinger have been quietly working for governments in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

As the bad press has grown worse for these governments, business has improved for these companies. But their work has pushed them into unfamiliar territory - putting them under the spotlight - and some have had to defend their business deals.

Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi takes a look at the spin doctors working behind the scenes in the Arab Spring.

"The images, the styled, glamorous images of First Lady Assad attempted to show how she and her family are not very different from the sort of Western upper or upper-middle class family. But when their client is shooting unarmed people in the streets, the integrity of these firms rightly belongs under a microscope."

James Duggan, photojournalist

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.