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Algeria's election: A fait accompli?

For many, even those in the media, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s re-election is a foregone conclusion.

Last updated: 19 Apr 2014 09:45
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Algerians went to the polls on Thursday and, even before the official count, most believed that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s re-election was a foregone conclusion.

Airtime usually plays a key role when analysing the coverage of elections, but the clearly ailing 77-year-old president will likely win a fourth term despite having hardly been seen or heard in public during the campaign.

Algerians are wary of instability and for many of them Bouteflika is the figure who brought an end to a brutal civil war in the 1990s.

But where does that leave the Algerian media? The landscape for journalists in 2014 is far from ideal but not nearly as bad as it once was. One private TV station has been closed for questioning Bouteflika’s re-lection and the government has been refusing visas for some foreign journalists.

However, over the past decade the media have become increasingly pluralistic and new media platforms have been used extensively during the campaign.

Helping us understand the media coverage of the Algerian elections are: Amrane Mahfoud Medjani, from El Watan newspaper; Imad Mesdoua, a media analyst specialising in the Middle East, North African and Sub-Saharan African regions; Hichem Bouallouche, director of Atlas TV; and Ismail Debeche, professor of international relations at Algiers University and former leading member of President Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front.

Our News Bytes this week: The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the Pulitzer prize for public service for their coverage of the Edward Snowden/NSA story; Russians will no longer be hearing the Voice of America on their airwaves after the Putin government refused to renew its license; three journalists working for the Lebanese TV channel al-Manar have been killed in Syria; and the Association of Colombian Newspapers bails out paper-starved Venezuelan newspapers by sending tons of newsprint.

This week's Feature takes us to Israel where the revolving door between journalism and politics is spinning ever faster, with most of the movement in one direction - from the media into positions of power.

It is a trend that goes back to the founder of political Zionism, former journalist Theodore Herzel, and continues into the present day. Listening Post's Flo Phillips examines the implications.

And finally, it is National Library Week in the United States. Last summer, the Seattle Public Library set a new world record for the longest book domino chain. None of the 2,131 books used “were harmed” and are now being sold to help raise money for library programmes and services. The Book Domino Chain World Record is our web video of the week.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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