The revolution was not televised…
Social media helped tell the story of Tunisia’s unrest, but Western news outlets were slow to grasp its significance.
As events in Tunisia unfolded, it was evident that media – new and old – were playing a huge role. We analyse that media angle of the story in our show this week. Also, we have a report on satellite imagery and its growing role in modern journalism.
When protesters took to the streets in Tunisia back in December, the Ben Ali government cracked down hard on the media – shutting down news outlets, arresting bloggers and locking out foreign journalists. But through sites like Facebook and Twitter, pictures of the protests were able to get out and were picked up by satellite TV channels. The images spread like wildfire through the Arab world, reaching audiences across the region and binding them to the ever changing story. Western news outlets on the other hand, at least initially, failed to give the story the coverage it deserved.
Quick hits from the media world: A new media law in Hungary has people up in arms across the European Union; new legislation passed in Vietnam makes life harder for the country’s online community; the News of the World phone-hacking scandal comes home to roost; the global recession claims another victim in the publishing world, this time it is the Irrawaddy magazine run by exiled Burmese citizens; and Israel’s government makes a security faux pas against a group of foreign journalists.
The satellites first launched into space at the height of the Cold War so the US and the Soviet Union could keep an eye on each other have become a powerful tool for journalism. When commercial satellite companies began offering imagery for sale in the 1980s, the technology began to be used by news organisations, and private corporations … those who could afford it.
But Google Earth, launched in 2005, gave high-resolution satellite imagery to the masses. Journalists have found that it gives them not only new ways of investigating stories, but new ways of telling them. Listening Post’s Jason Mojica looks at the fusion of satellite imagery and the media.
Our web video of the week links to our main stories. It has been put together by a group of Tunisian bloggers from the website nawaat.org. They have been monitoring the Ben Ali government for some time now and using Google Earth and photographers on the ground, they tracked where the ruling family went and posted it online. And let us just say that the places they visited are known more for what they offer shoppers than their vibrant political scenes. We hope you enjoy the show.
This episode of Listening Post can be seen from Saturday, January 22, at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.