The Listening Post

Sudan: Crackdown on protests, clampdown on media

Sudan security forces rampage through protest sites and a media blackout is enforced. Plus, British poverty-porn media.

On this week’s The Listening Post: Events in Sudan take a turn as security forces rampage through protest sites and a media blackout is enforced. Plus, the toxicity of British poverty-porn media.

Cracking down on demonstrators, controlling the message

Nearly two months after mass anti-government demonstrations led to the overthrow of Sudan’s long-time president, Omar al-Bashir, a mostly peaceful political transition has turned violent.

This past week, soldiers taking orders from the military council that now rules Sudan opened fire on protesters, killing more than 100 people.

The council imposed a communications blackout – blocking access to social media, disrupting phone traffic, severely restricting the news and information flow.

Over the past few weeks, many foreign journalists, including from Al Jazeera, have had their licenses revoked and their offices raided, meaning stories of alleged mass murder and rape at the hands of the security services do not make it beyond Sudan’s borders.

When the generals took power, they promised new media freedoms, space for independent reporting. However, their tolerance for those telling the stories of this revolution has run out, and they are using tactics straight out of Omar al-Bashir’s playbook.


Khalid Albaih – Sudanese political cartoonist

Eric Reeves – senior fellow, Harvard University

Isma’il Kushkush – journalist

Yassmin Abdel-Magied – writer and broadcaster

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about police raids on two news outlets in Australia that have put media on high alert, and a BBC report on army abuses in northwest Pakistan which the military has claimed is “a pack of lies.”

Myths and money in Britain’s poverty porn industry

“Poverty porn” is a British TV genre that follows a simple formula: Take what Brits call a “benefits scrounger” – someone who’s milking the state’s welfare system for all it’s worth – throw in a dash of stereotyping, a little demonisation, add a pinch of reality TV and presto, you have a television show.

British TV channels and tabloids have long been hooked on stories about people falsely claiming money from the state.

But that comes at a cost. Poverty porn might entertain audiences, but it also often misleads them about the reality of the welfare system – and that can have implications for the people who depend on it.


Rossalyn Warren – freelance journalist

Rachel Broady – lecturer, Liverpool John Moores University

Bob Jefford – co-executive producer, Benefits Britain

Barry Tomes – PR agent

Ruth Patrick – lecturer, York University