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Communication research, both quantitative and qualitative. The researches will be comparative and concise, however, the blogger conducts them carefully as represented through the shared findings or statistical data.

Revolutionary Press Theory


William Hachtens (1981) defined revolutionary press as a concept that is being propagated “in countries coping with revolutions against the existing government or foreign domination”. He suggests that the media in such countries appear to be in a transitional phase, divorced from normal state-media relationships”. [1]

Clement (1997) discusses “Revolutionary Press Theory on the foundation presented by Hachtens, as a concept of illegal and subversive communication utilizing the press and broadcasting to overthrow the existing government or to wrest control from alien or unwanted rulers. In other words, revolutionary press is the “press of the people” who believe strongly the government under which they live does not serve their interests and should be overthrown”. [2]

Hachtens also admitted that examples of this type of press are difficult to find and
suggest.

POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Lenin in his work What is to be Done? (written in exile before the 1917 Revolution) proposed that the revolutionaries through the effective use of means of communication establish a nationwide, legal newspaper inside czarist Russia. Such a paper could obviously not advocate revolutionary goals, but its distribution could construct an efficient political machinery.

Lenin postulated that such a newspaper could:

-cover far-flung revolutionary organization
-mobilize the masses

Examples of vague nature can be identified in history. Like the underground press in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The editors and journalists of this clandestine press literally risked their lives to convey the messages through papers and pamphlets. The history of anti-colonialist movements in the former third world is replete with such examples. Throughout the British empire, especially in West Africa, political dissidents published small newspapers often handwritten, that expressed grievances against the the British rulers, then encouraged nationalism, and finally advocated political independence.
Aspiring political leaders such as Azikiwe, Awolowo, Nkrumah, Kaunda and Kenyatta were all editors of these small political newspapers that informed and helped organize the budding political parties and nationalist movements. The British authorities were surprisingly tolerant, even though they disapproved of and sometimes acted against the publications and the editors.
Much in the Anglo-American political tradition supported these newspapers and the editors claimed the rights of British journalists.
In the post-independence years, radio broadcasting has become a valuable tool of revolutionary groups seeking to overthrow the fragile governments of developing nations. Anthony Sampson said that “the period of television and radio monopolies prove a passing phase, as we find ourselves in a much more open field of communications…” Personalized media with interactive capabilities are now playing revolutionary roles. They tend to challenge autocracies and despots around the globe. Dissident voices collaborate to challenge rulers that have been adamantly governing countries over decades.

Note: For detailed written version drop a comment or send an e-mail to fakihahassanrizvi@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Research Hub, Slide shows

 

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The Uneven Dimension of Arab iRevolution


Introduction
History of the world will always narrate the ‘Arab uprising’ while discussing the years 2011 and 2012. It is the only one of its kind that was technologically driven. Edmund Burke’s ‘Fourth Estate’ evolved into new forms till it became the ‘voice of the people’ at places where they couldn’t use traditional means of communication. The ‘social media’ and virtual networking did wonders for Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans. On the other hand, Bahrainis are still longing for political freedom and strangled in sectarian strife. You won’t be able to see many headlines about the unabated misery of Bahraini protesters and the brutal treatment of US backed regime. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has ruled the third least populated land of Middle East for the past 41 years. If it is an ‘iRevoltuion’ then the social media statistics presented by Mashable media report in 2012 ( http://mashable.com/2012/06/08/arab-world-facebook-twitter/) presents a rugged ‘social media-scape’ in the Arab world.

Facebook 

facebook users in Arab world

facebook population penetration

Note the difference between Bahrain on 6th position (from left) and Egypt on 12th position.

Twitter

twiiter users in Arab worldpenetration of twiiter users in Arab worldCompare Bahrain and Egypt again.

Bahrain Versus Egypt
My post will strictly deal with Bahrain and Egypt as internet laws are more or less the same in both the countries. Moreover, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain have all moved to discourage bloggers and their vocal behaviour against state oppression.

In Egypt, even after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, the native blogger, “Son of Ra” was sentenced to three years in prison for criticizing the military. [1]

The website of Reporters without borders, revealed on June 21, 2012 that 21 suspects were prosecuted on June 2, 2011 for their affiliation with terrorist organizations and for attempting to over throw the Bahraini government, one of them was a missing blogger Abdulemam, who is regarded by fellow Bahrainis as one of his country’s Internet pioneers and is an active member of Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy forum that gets more than 100,000 visitors a day despite being blocked within Bahrain. [2]

The interesting part of the available social media reports and statistics is that Bahrain has an internet usage percentage of 88% (highest in the Arab world) with a population of just 0.7 million. Whereas, Egypt (population 66.6 million) has an internet usage percentage of 21% after United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon (countries where the Arab spring never blossomed). The statistics provided above also unveil that penetration of Twitter and Facebook (potential social networking tools used in the Arab spring).

An article published in the Guardian [3] could have appalled any of the online protesters, a journalist named Amber Lyon (involved in the production of CNN’s documentary ‘iRevolution‘) expalined that why CNN international did not air the documentary. The reason according to her was:

“A 13 minute portion in the documentary that covered protests in Bahrain.”

This leaves some never-ending questions for those who are happily advocating the role of ‘social media’ as a leader of the Arab Spring. Apart from that, it has led to an obvious conclusion:

‘The iRevolution if backed by the US could bring change in the Middle East’

References:

[1] H.A William & F.J. Scotton (2012), The World News Prism Challenges of Digital Communication, Wiley – Blackwell Eight edition.

[2] http://en.rsf.org/bahrain-bahraini-blogger-still-missing-a-21-06-2012,42840.html

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/04/cnn-international-documentary-bahrain-arab-spring-repression

[4] http://shusmo.me/2012/06/07/twitter-active-users-in-arab-world-english

Mashable media report – http://mashable.com/2012/06/08/arab-world-facebook-twitter/

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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Cyberspace Reporter Versus Earthly Reporter


Difference between ‘Reporting in the Virtual World
and
the ‘Physical World’

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi 

Abstract

This report will succinctly identify and explain the differences between reporting in the real world and in the virtual world. To test the differences, experience of reporting in both the cyberspace and physical world is presented. The differences are arranged in the themes of, data gathering, organizing the report, writing and publishing. Conclusion ascertains that differences lie mainly during the stages of ‘data gathering’ and ‘publishing’.

Introduction:

The report aims at identifying the major differences or divergence between data gathering, organization, writing and publishing, while reporting events in the real world (physical world) as opposed to Computer Assisted Reporting and Research through an online medium (virtual world).

Rose (1995) concisely describes the differences in the internet/virtual/cyberspace and the physical world by arguing that the Internet doesn’t host a ‘new set of population’. Whosoever uses the internet is also connected to the real world, somehow or the other. Consequently, the online providence of information reflects events in the real world. [1]

However, Susler (2001) justifies major differences between the virtual and real domains by taking the support of ‘Cyberpsychology‘. Internet is psychologically distinct due to its characteristics of ‘anonymity’, ‘variation in skill levels’, ‘absence of geographical boundaries’, ‘option to change appearance/identity that leads to deception. [2]

Kolodzy (2006) discussed the two reporting techniques in the context of ‘convergence’ that distinguished online news from the print medium by emphasising on ‘interactivity’, ‘hyper links‘ and ‘multimedia’, which allows online journalism to ‘guide’ and ‘tell’ more than any other medium of communication. [3]

Dueze (1998) mentions that the online reporting of events is more complex as; [4]
deuze2

He presented a model for online journalism in 2003, explaining that online reports leave more room for dialogue between the reporter and the reader, it is instrumental and concentration is centred upon ‘public connectivity’. On the other hand, traditional journalism concentrates editorial content through orientation and monitoring. [5]

Conclusively, the Cyberspace reporter is the creator and controller of the content, with the luxury of ‘self-publishing’ at his or her disposal. The traditional reporter is bound to follow the editorial policies of the news agency/print media outlet that he/she is working for.
Dueze’s model for online journalism:

Deuze2


Web Journalism: The Use of Blogs as tools for Reporting

Although social interest networks like Facebook, information network like Twitter, simple html websites and blogs, all are potential reporting tools in the virtual world. However, the report focuses on ‘Blogs’ only.

In 2009, the executive director of Committee to Protection Journalists, Joel Simon, said that “bloggers are at the vanguard of the information revolution and their numbers are expanding rapidly”. The Royal Pingdom (a forum that looks at the uptime-monitoring needs of 90% of the companies in the world) estimated that 70 million WordPress blogs shall be created by the end of 2011. In March 2012, the ‘nielsenwire’ reported that over 181 million blogs have been tracked around the world. The exponential rise in blogging is followed by citizen or participatory journalism, especially in countries where traditional media fails to present the views of the masses.

A specialist blogger (trained journalist having a blog of his/her own) applies the journalistic practices and values like objectivity, fairness, balance, coherence and news norms, such as timeliness, human interest, proximity, unusual nature, conflict, impact and helpfulness.

On the other hand, an undifferentiated blogger (not specializing in the field of Journalism) is likely to deviate from the journalistic norms. A citizen blogger may provide a highly subjective account, owing to some of the limitations and personal bias, while reporting an event.

Consequently, after content itself, it is the presentation of the content in the online report that counts. The presentation is likely to differ, according to the bloggers skill and familiarity with standard journalistic techniques of reporting.

 Experience: to Test the Differences

The experience of covering a seminar in the real world and the one that was mediated through a video clip on ‘vimeo’ can give a clear view of the points at which a Cyberspace reporter and Earthly Reporter diverge.

Reporting in the Physical World:
A seminar to be reported in the real world is likely to follow this pattern:

earhtly reporter

 Problems that influence reporting:

The tape recorder might not record properly as reporter is a participant, he/she is part of the audience. The hiss and noise in that setting is likely to obstruct the reporters concentration. This was removed by appointing two reporters so that points missed by the other could have been covered.

All the speakers weren’t available at the end of the session. The reporter had no other choice than to miss out details that were to be confirmed from those speakers, instead of misreporting them.

A photograph was taken by another participant at the event for the report.

Reporting in the Virtual World:

A cyberspace reporter is likely to follow this pattern:
cyberspace reporter

 CONCLUSION:
The highlighted differences represent the distinction between a Cyberspace reporter and an Earthly Reporter. Note that both the events were more or less similar, but the reporting processes of data gathering and publishing differed in both the worlds.

References:

[1] Rose (1995) Net Law: Your Right in the Online World

[2] Axelrod (2009) Violence goes to the Internet: Avoiding the snare of the net, Charles C Thomas Publisher

[3] Kolodzy (2006) Convergence Journalism: Writing and Reporting Across the News Media, Rowman & Littlefield.

[4] http://cybra.lodz.pl

[5] Veglis & Siapera (2012), The Handbook of Global Online Journalism, John Wiley & Sons.

Journalism Notebook

Journalism Notebook (Photo credit: planeta)

mappa_blog

mappa_blog (Photo credit: francescopozzi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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Exploring the Images in Arab Blogosphere


Exploring the Images in Arab Blogosphere

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi 

Introduction and Background:

The word ‘blog’ is a contraction of two words, Weband ‘Log’. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘weblog’ as a frequently updated website consisting of personal observations, excerpts from other sources, typically run by a single person and usually with hyperlinks to other websites. It can also be referred to as an online journal or diary.

Walker.R (2008) defines ‘blogging’ as a cumulative process as the information shared is always placed in a broader context and bloggers have complete control over the content that they want to share unlike other means of communication (print, broadcast). [1]

Brans & Jacobs (2006) while discussing the ‘Uses of Blogs‘ elaborated the concept of ‘News Blogging’ as a “practice of covering the news through blogging- either by reporting originally or by providing opinion on the news that has been reported in the news sources”. [2]

Barlow (2008) explained the working dimension of blogs, he argued that the words on the screens become movers of judgement, all supposedly equal, though there are plenty of means of heightening their exposure. [3]

Pole (2010) discussed the influence of blogging networks (blogosphere) on political communication. As per his argument, blogging has altered political discourse by changing ‘how’ and ‘when’ people discuss politics. He further supports this by explaining the enhanced level of interactivity while blogging that enables dialogue among bloggers and readers leading to an exchange of ideas. The ideas can then be manifested in the form of an ‘action’, ‘policy’ or ‘mobilization’. Therefore, political communication has no boundaries with regards to ‘scope’ and ‘magnitude’ in the blogosphere. [4]

The Arab uprisings and protests starting from 2010 used blogs as an important source for disseminating information that was denied any other outlet (mainstream news media). However, some argue that the role of ‘social networks’ and ‘blogs’ in triggering the waves of protests around Middle East is overstated. Whether less or more, the impact of social media did resonate and there are no differences over this. Downing (2010) marks 2003 as the year during which Arab bloggers/citizen journalists started to gain prominence. However, it was only after 2005 that these bloggers “emerged as important leaders of social movements.” [5]

This is the reason that Murphy (2011) labels blogging as a predominant form of written protest in the Arab world and the Internet as the new “clandestine printing press.” [6]

Arab Blogosphere

Arab Blogosphere

Literature Review:

This is a concise research study which aims at revealing the images in the Arab Blogosphere, pertinent to four key issues of Middle East during 2012:

  1. Morsi as the President of Egypt
  2. Syrian Massacre
  3. Protests against anti-Islam film in the Arab World
  4. Recent conflict between Gaza and Israel

‘Three’ blogs were considered for this research study. The images that reflected the issues mentioned above were studied. ‘Image analysis’ is very significant for analyzing opinions being communicated through the web. 

Image source: Encyclopedia of Social Media Movement by John D.H.Downing (2010)

Image source: Encyclopedia of Social Media Movement by John D.H.Downing (2010)

It becomes all the more significant in the case of ‘blogs’ as readers are hooked by the images accompanying the posts. Sometimes they even get a clue of the entire post by viewing images. In case of the Arab world, there are certain blogs that share images being submitted by natives belonging to different countries in the Arab countries. In this way the blog becomes ‘a portrait of the current happenings’ in the Middle East.

It’s time to take a look at the images in the Arab Blogosphere

References:

[1] Walker. J. Rettberg (2008), Blogging.

[2] Jacobs J. & Brauns A. (2006), Uses of Blogs.

[3] Barlow A. (2008) Blogging America: The New Public Sphere

[4] Pole A. (2010) Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a networked society.

[5] Downing. J. D. H (2010) Encyclopedia of Social Media Movements

[6] Murphy. C. Emma (2011) The New Arab Media: Technology, Image, Perception

BLOG URL’s

http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

http://tabsir.net/

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Research Hub, Slide shows

 

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Techno-politics in Pakistan During 2012


Techno-politics in Pakistan during 2012: the Role of Social ‘Information Network’ (Twitter) in Political Communication
A Comparative Study of Tweets by Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

@CMShehbaz or @ImranKhanPTI

@CMShehbaz or @ImranKhanPTI

Introduction:

Media and politics are intertwined, especially in democratic states. Technological advancement has drastically changed the process of communication and this in turn has brought significant variations in ‘political communication’. Significance of e-connections has increased at an exponential rate in the age of ‘Internet-reliance’. The human of 21st century is submerged in an ocean of information, constantly being bombarded with packs of ‘what he/she wants to know’ and even ‘what he/she doesn’t want to know’. The later pack is a gift of the world-wide web, stirring a change in media environment, referred to as ‘new media’, ‘e-media’ or the ‘cyberculture’, according to some.

Wolsfeld (2011) has argued that the transition of ‘media’ with the advent of Internet hasn’t altered the central focus of the ‘political game’ that is ‘the need to be heard’. A larger part of the Internet industry is influenced by the ‘Social Media‘. [1]

Brown (2008) while explaining the development of ‘social media’ has described it as a requirement of the Internet users. He backs this observation by stating that “social media makers merged elements of multimedia within the concepts of social media”. The sphere of ‘social media’ is complex due to its vast and comprehensive nature. A prominent part of it revolves around the idea of ‘networking’ or connecting people together via Internet. This, today, is largely being achieved through ‘social networking websites’. [2]

Lester and Waters (2010) define the term ‘social network’ as a ‘specific type of service provided by the social media’, which is often confused with various components of social media (Blogs, Wikis, Internet Forums, Social News Sites, Photo and Video Sharing/Hosting, dating services, Bookmarking and Tagging services). They have classified the ‘social networking landscape’ as follows: [3]

1- General-Interest Networks: All – purpose/ popular/ mainstream networks. This group includes networks that share striking similarities with Facebook, hi5, Orkut, Google Buzz and My Space. Such networks give a unique mechanism for ‘connecting people’.

2- Business Networks- Professional or business-specific networks like LinkedIn, eBay Neighbours, Xing.

3- Niche Networks- Within this network users socialize through movies, music, games or they belong to a similar educational/workplace/ethnic/religious background.

Any substantial or function-based deviation from the above is not a part of the ‘social network’.

Twitter is often considered as a ‘social network’, but it is a ‘micro-blog’ (with a limitation of 140 characters). It is counted as a ‘information network’ that has a ‘macro-impact’ due to its ‘sharing-oriented’ operation.

The research study will explore the use of Twitter by two tech-savvy politicians of Pakistan (Imran Khan the President of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-PTI) and Mian Shehbaz Sharif from Pakistan Muslim League- N-PML-N) The election campaign of 2008 inducted ‘social media’ in American politics. President Barack Obama was the first politician to ‘Tweet’. The world has already viewed ‘Tweets from Tahrir Square’ in the Arab Spring. Under the authoritarian regimes, social media was taken as an alternative form of media by the suppressed and forcefully-muted citizens. The immense role social media has played in times of crises (floods of 2010 in Pakistan) allowed it to expand its influence and penetration among the masses. Relief and rehabilitation was aided by the effective use of social media. Digital activism and other participatory activities being achieved by the Pakistani population (youth in particular) has definitely shifted the focus of every sector towards the social media, whether it be politics, traditional media outlets, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) or the health and education sectors. Politicians of Pakistan for the first time have used social media with such exuberance and vigilance. Therefore, this is a major development in their strategies of ‘political communication’, where the use of internet is becoming vital. The researcher will discuss at length the ‘politics of virtual world – in Pakistani context’ as reflected by the ‘Tweets’ of the selected politicians from January 1, 2012 till November 15, 2012.

The research study aims to investigate:

Who is a better Techno-politician, Imran Khan or Mian Shehbaz Sharif?

The investigation will be carried out by a self-devised ‘Model of Technopolitical Communication’ by the researcher.

Significance of the Study:

The research study will be the only one of its kind that will explain technopolitics in Pakistan by analysing the use of Twitter. Instead of merely relying on the statistical data, the researcher also intends to relate the functions of Twitter with aspects of participatory politics. ‘Tweets’, ‘Retweets’, and other information shared on Twitter will be studied under the political lens.

Rationale for the selected Politicians:

The number of politically affiliated Twitter users in Pakistan is large. However, the study focuses on just two politicians, for the sake of comparison. The rationale for the choice depends on the following factors:

1- They are selected by the number of Twitter followers. @Imran Khan – 426, 655 followers, @CMShehbaz – 58,577 followers (according to what was viewed on the Twitter profiles of both these politicians by the researcher on November 18, 2012)

2- According to the Gallup-Poll-2012, Pakistan Muslim League – N (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) have been the most popular political parties of the country from 2008 till 2012. The selected politicians have the highest number of followers on Twitter among other members of their respective parties.

Theoretical Framework:

The researcherwill use a self-devised ‘Model of Technopolitical Communication’ that will relate politics of virtual world with the real politics and traditional political approaches of politicians in Pakistan. This relationship is for the sake of understanding and cannot be taken as a replacement for politics in the real world.

The relations constructing this model are as follows:

Technopolitician – Twitter user who is Politician in real world.

Tweets – the message of the technopolitician, similar to a press conference in real world or the use of other mass media by the politician to communicate with the people.

Retweets – how much flexible is the technopolitical orientation, what does he/she want to share with his constituents through other available sources. In the real world, politicians often attribute certain statements or present data/information to logically convince the public. However, Retweets move a step forward as a technopolitician can share what people have to say about him at national and international levels. The conversation on Retweets ascribed to the citizens at national level can represent what the recipient of the technopolitical message has to say.

Conversation – the number of politically active netizens (virtual substitute for citizens in the real world), supporting or resisting the technopolitical messages (Tweets/Retweets (Netizens at national level). 

Techopolitical model

As shown in the diagram, the model explains the relation between the Tweets/Retweets (Technopolitical message) and the Response or impact that can be assessed through the Retweets of Netizens at national level and the conversation that the Technopolitician has with them.The model has its limitations and cannot be considered as an alternative for how traditional political communication operates in the real world through mass media or other ways.

However, it is applicable for studying and comparing the use of ‘information network’ (Twitter) by real life politicians. The model doesn’t rely on the number of followers, but the number of those ‘interacting’ with the technopolitician (either in response to the Tweets or when the technopolitcian Retweets what the Netizens have to say about him/her or to him/her). This implies that the conversation to Tweets ratio or the conversation to Retweets (Netizens at National level) ratio accounts for the effectiveness of the technopolitical communication. Another advantage that the technopolitician gets through this technologically driven virtual political campaign’ is the ‘feedback’ that helps in constructing appealing political messages by enhancing the content that has resulted in the desired impact.

Method:All the ‘visible’ activity on the Twitter accounts of both the politicians was recorded from January 1, 2012 till November 15, 2012. The data were then tabled as follows: 


@CMShehbaz:

SHEHBAZ SHARIF CM

@ImranKhanPTI 

IMRAN KHAN PTIDiscussion:

 Tweeting Captain (Imran Khan) Versus Tweeting CM (Shehbaz Sharif)

@ImranKhanPTI has a large number of followers, but his activity on the basis of the model presented by the researcher is negligible. He can be regarded as a weak Technopolitician in comparison to @CMShehbaz. From January 1, 2012 till November 1, 2012, Imran Khan Tweeted 610 times, Retweeted 69 times, Conversations on Retweets by Pakistani Netizens were just 2 out of a total of 8 conversation during 10 months. It is also noteworthy that @ImranKhanPTI Retweeted his own party member (Shafqat Mehmood) most of the times. He exhibited a certain trend while Retweeting journalists, only Hassan Nisar and Mubashar Lucman were Retweeted by him.

On the other hand, during the same time frame, @CMShehbaz Tweeted 1050 times, Retweeted times, Conversations on Retweets by Pakistani Netizens were 60, Retweets of Pakistani citizens were 110 out of a total of 730. @CMShehbaz remained a very active technopolitician in a very positive way. He Retweeted media persons of Pakistan 99 times and no particular trend was found. There was a variety (Asma Shirazi, Maria Memon, Talat Hussain, Nadeem Malik, Hamid Mir, Sana Bucha- to mention a few) The CM not only Retweeted praiseworthy remarks, but criticism was also found on his Twitter page, few and far between. Retweets from PML-N officials or other Twitter accounts of PML-N were 111 (Khurram Dastagir was the most Retweeted party member). There were 50 Retweets by the CM from International Community and one of the citizens of Nigeria even stated that he aspired for a CM like Shehbaz Sharif in Nigeria, who uses Twitter. The interesting observation was the large number of Retweets from various other pages, The Dissenter, Revolt Today, The Economist, BBC, Overt Dictionary, Great Quotes (to name a few prominent ones), which together amounted for 360 Retweets.

Conclusion:
@ImranKhanPTI has a large number of followers on Twitter, but his Technopolitics is weak according to the findings. @CMShehbaz possesses the Technopolitical acumen. He is using the Information Network like Twitter is a very effective way.

References:
[1] Gadi Wolsfeld (2011), Making Sense of Media and Politics, five principles in Political Communication
 [2] Brown (2008), Social Media 100 success Secrets: Social Media, Web 2.0. User generated content and Virtual Communities – 100 Must Asked Mass Collaboration Questions, George Brown, JR.
 [3] Lester and Waters, 2010, The Everything guide to Social Media: All you need to know about participating in today’s most popular online communities.
 
https://twitter.com/CMShehbaz  
https://twitter.com/ImranKhanPTI
 

Please note that the researcher has no political leanings or biases. It was an interest based academic study, being a student of Communication Sciences. The researcher, therefore, doesn’t want to tarnish the repute of or disappoint the supporters of the politicians discussed in this post!

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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Is ‘Mohammad Morsi’ the ‘New Hosni Mubarak’?


Is Mohammad Morsi the ‘New Hosni Mubarak‘?
A Comparison of the Editorial Coverage given to Morsi by the New York Times and the Khaleej Times, from June 25, 2012 till November 29, 2012.

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi 

Mohammed-Morsi-1

Introduction:

Protests that sparked around the Arab World, collectively called the ‘Arab Spring‘ toppled down decades long regimes. Starting from Tunisia and spreading across Syria, where the inflammation has aggravated, the Arab Spring will remain a significant sign post in the political history of the world. For the Egyptians, the billows of the Arab Spring brought a democratic dispensation being headed by Mohammad Esa al Ayat Morsi. On July 1, 2012, Morsi had formally sworn in as the first democratically elected president of Egypt by beating his competitor, Ahmed Shafq (prime minister of Egypt during Mubrak’s rule) with a narrow margin of 3.5%. There are differences over as to how fair the elections were and the question of a citizen-centred change. However, the change is obvious, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, ruling Egypt. Morsi has taken charge of his country during a crucial period and he is under a global-glare. Belonging to a party, widely known for its staunch Islamist nature, antipathy towards Israel, hostility towards the U.S and resentful over the role of military at home, Morsi’s presidential actions are being examined carefully. Under the Mubarak regime, Egypt had been a key ally of the US in the Middle East by cooperating with Israel, its relations with Iran were strained on account of sectarian divide. Philips. L . David (2009) predicted that a path for Muslim Brotherhood to enter politics is likely to make Egypt an undisputed democratic leader in the Arab region. However, there are conditions and tests for this to materialize. Starting from the steps that a non-violent Islamist party can take to stop the more fanatic violent one’s from entering into politics, extent of civil participation in the politics, transparency, press freedom, socio-economic development to the diplomatic orientation adopted by it. [1]

However, Bowker (2010) has argued that there can be broadly three likely drivers of political change: a new class of entrepreneurs, an impact of demography and generational changes on both the secular and Islamic political life and the effects of engagement with other countries like the United States and Israel. [2]

Vincent. H. Billie (2012) described the adverse changes that could lead to grave consequences for the region and above all, the Egyptians. “A worst-case scenario would be if Morsi turns out to be a weak and pliant president. His flexibility can allow the terrorists to compete for power. If this happens then the military will stage another coup, creating long-term turmoil in Egypt.” [3]

Morsi’s bout with the military and the need to restore economy is a complex duo. After taking charge as the president he has been in the international mainstream media. Commentators and media analysts from around the world are assessing the developments in Egypt under his control, ranging from Egypt’s Sinai problem, the débâcle between Egyptian military and parliament, to broad issues like the protests against the anti Islam film or the regional destabilization due to turmoil in Gaza. James Petras in his article, ‘The Summer of Muslim Discontent: it’s not “the Amateur Film” Stupid, builds the opions that the “Egyptian Muslim and secular populace are profoundly disenchanted with the Brotherhoods betrayal of their promises of welfare, jobs, prosperity and nationalist foreign policy .The “film” served as a “legitimate pretext” to unify their forces: the protest against “the film” was in reality about the larger socio-economic and political cleavages emerging and the tremendous boost in US influence in Morsi’s Egypt.” [4]

Amid these wide range of discussions, Morsi is being stigmatized for exercising dictatorial powers that make his decisions irrefutable and legitimate till a new government is elected. Such measures are not constructing a positive image of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, who is time and again being described with phrases like: the ‘new Mubarak’, ‘Morsi the new dictator’, Morsi’s democratic dictatorship’ and ‘Morsi’s Coup’. On the other hand, dissenters have already started to gather once again in the historical Tahrir Square, raising slogans that warn Morsi (remember Morsi after the throne, there is jail).

In light of the background information this research has the following objectives:

R1 What is the extent of editorial coverage given to Mohammad Morsi in The New York Times and Khaleej Times after he won the presidential seat?

R2 What suggestions are given by the editorials for handling governance issues, whether explicitly or implicitly, by The New York Times and Khaleej Times?

R3 What words/adjectives have been ascribed with Morsi during the editorial coverage in The New York Times and Khaleej Times?

Method:For the first research question, the researcher will present a quantitative analysis of the editorial coverage of Morsi by both the newspapers. For the second and third research questions, a discourse analysis of the editorials will be presented, according to the relevant hypotheses. All the editorials from June 25, 2012 till November 29, 2012, containing the terms ‘Morsi’ and ‘Egypt’ will be considered as the sample for the research. The time frame starts from the day Morsi took charge as the President till late November this year. A discussion following the editorial will compare and contrast editorial coverage, the description of Morsi and the advices that the editorials are lending to him as the president.

Newspapers:

The New York Times: An American daily newspaper. The paper’s motto, printed in the upper left-hand corner of the front page, is “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” The New York Times website (NYTimes.com) has the motto “All the News That’s Fit to Click.” Copies of this newspaper have circulated in the New York City since 1857. It has won the most Pulitzer Prizes among all the news organizations in America. It is also considered as the most popular American print media outlet. The paper in owned by The New York Times Company. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times]

Khaleej Times: A Dubai based newspaper catering to the needs of the readers in the Gulf. First published in 1978, the newspaper became the first English language newspaper of Dubai. The government of the United Arab Emirates owns it partially. Khaleej Times Online is the global face of the newspaper on the internet. The online version offers more stories and exclusives not found in its print paper. Currently, it’s print edition is the second most popular English language newspaper in Dubai. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khaleej_Times]

Hypotheses:

The following hypotheses have been formulated by the researcher:

H1 Khaleej Times gave greater editorial coverage to Morsi as compared to The New York Times.

H2 The New York Times explicitly mentions that stability in Egypt can’t be achieved without the cooperation of US, whereas, Khaleej Times suggests Morsi to handle the situation keeping view the aspirations of his subjects.

H3 The New York Times will be more blatant while ascribing certain words with Morsi and Khaleej Times will present a more factual account regarding Morsi rather than attaching words like ‘conservative’ with him.

Hypotheses Testing:

Editorials of The New York Times and Khaleej Times were retrieved from the websites of both the newspapers. After analysis, the following quantitative data was observed:
Morsi-editorial coverage

H 1 Deduction: Editorial coverage of Morsi by Khaleej Times is greater than that of The New York Times

The New York Times gives the following suggestions to Morsi:

The New York Times has talked of Egyptian transition as yet another chance for the people of Egypt to steer through a democratic pathway and for this more willingness is required to reduce political polarization. It has explicitly stated that Egyptians can decide their own future, but they will need help from the United States. The editorials suggest Morsi to curb military power but not to dissolve the entire legislative cabinet (only the legally questionable number should be re-contested). [Another Chance for Egypt, June 25, 2012-The New York Times]

Regarding the Sinai problem, The New York Times mentions it as a new series of tensions between Morsi and the army. To make Sinai a priroity is in the national interest of Egypt and Morsi should deal with it as a test of his ability to control lawlessness in Egypt. It stated the possibility of Egypt revising its treaty with Israel in order to increase the military assets. In another editorial, it has implicitly suggested Morsi to improve security relations with Israel as there are a number of other problems like shattered economy to deal with at home. [Egypt’s Sinai Problem, August 7, 2012. Morsi’s First Crisis, August 10, 2012]

Morsi is exploiting the attack on Sinai Peninsula by firing Generals to seize on going protests going on in Egyptian streets. Egypt shouldn’t hope for change is Morsi continues with stern actions. [Morsis’s Rebalancing act, August 16, 2012-The New York Times]

The newspaper builds the opinion that Egypt cannot restore its economy without the support of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States. Therefore, Morsi should consider the aid and loans being granted by the Obama administration. [Egypt’s Economic Struggle, September 24, 2012]

Morsi is blamed by the newspaper for a delayed response on the gruesome attack on the US ambassador for Libya and attacks by protesters of Anti-Islam film on the US embassies in Cairo. He should condemn violence with a firm fist in order to improve the economic condition of the country. It clearly mentions that the expected $4.8 billion loan to Egypt by IMF would receive the Western support if ‘Egypt is reasonably safe’ for the West. [Belated Response from Egypt, September 13, 2012]

Morsi can be given ‘some’ credit for the Gaza deal, but that doesn’t mean that the United States will support measures which are perceived to be of authoritarian nature by the Egyptians. “While the State Department advocated a constitutional process that does not overly concentrate power in one set of hands.” [The Crisis in Egypt, November 26, 2012]

Khaleej Times gives the following suggestions to Morsi:

Khaleej Times describes the change in Egypt as a positive sign, but the free and fair future of democracy is uncertain. Cooperation between the military and the Islamists will decide the sustainability of ‘democratisation’ in Egypt. A compromise between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military can lead to a sustainable democracy. [What after the Elections?, June 26, 2012- Khaleej Times]

The newspaper endorses Morsi’s move of ‘negotiating powers back from the military’. It’s a painful exercise to make sure the required transition as civil engagement in the political process is also required. On the other hand, retaining military stalwarts in the cabinet can be disappointing for the protesters. [Transition in Egypt, Power Struggle in Cairo, Cairo’s Cocktail Cabinet, July 22, July 26, August 4, 2012- Khaleej Times]

Morsi should deal with the Sinai predicament like a ‘true leader’ by ensuring that Cairo has zero tolerance for militants. Egypt should not go against its agreements with Israel, especially when Morsi has to keep a check on radicalism and reply back to his political allies for the compromises he has made with military generals.Morsi has made the right move by firing generals as he has denied the chance of a puppet administration. The people of Egypt can’t tolerate a coup and Morsi has shown civilian authority by retiring generals using the brazen attack in Sinai as an opportunity. [Cairo’s Sinai predicament, Bold-Shake up in Egypt, August 10, August 14, 2012-Khaleej Times]

This is the time for the intelligentsia, media, academia and elected representatives to strive against poverty, terrorism and parochialism.” The newspaper doesn’t completely thwart Morsi’s decision of disallowing freedom of speech. Editorial reflects that press should be responsible enough in a democratic set up and at such a crucial time the government can’t look at superficial issues. People in Egypt won’t move towards the Presidential Palace if they are allowed personal freedom. AN example of this had been given by quoting Egypt’s Maria TV starting in July, where women wearing Niqab present shows. Under Mubarak rule there was a ban on head scarfs for female news presenters. The editorial asks Morsi to allow personal freedoms without taking into account Western reaction (that viewed the Hijab as a wave conservatism in Egypt). [Morsi versus the Press, Egypt’s ‘cover story’ August 26, 2012, September 4,2012 Khaleej Times]
The judiciary is not supporting the transitional process. Morsi should adopt a reconciliatory approach and nullify the baseless accusation against Muslim Brotherhood. The newspaper builds the opinion that President Morsi’s move is temporary just to increase the pace of legislative process. “The arguments against the Mursi decree may have their own merits, but it seems the president has taken the measure in good faith and in an attempt to let the elected representatives exercise their right of governing their constituents”. [Power Tangle in Egypt, November 27, 2012]

However, the latest editorial published warns Morsi that the protests will be more grand this time. He should consider the demand of the protesters or take them into confidence is they seem unstoppable. At this point in time, Egypt is in the hands of those who have a good will for governing the country. Agitators must be convinced somehow, even if it requires a compromise over the decree. Otherwise, an army is likely to stage a coup. [Trouble in Cairo, November 29, 2012]

H 2 As predicted The New York Times exhibits a total imbalance while suggesting Morsi, Khaleej Times has taken a balanced and rational approach.

Comparing words ascribed to President Morsi

The term ‘new dictator’ has only been used in one of the editorial of New York Times. Morsis has been labelled as a ‘conservative ‘Islamist’, for Khaleej Times he is a good will leader who can steer Egypt out of the domestic turmoil if he takes the proper steps. The New York Times has emphasized the dependence of Egypt on the financial assistance provided by the IMF and the United States. Morsi has even been blamed of being ‘shrewd’ when he removed the military generals in response to the Sinai attack. On the other hand, Khaleej Times expressed the notion that he can be a ‘true leader’ provided that he handles the things in accordance to the will of the people.

H 3 The New York Times is not taking a fair approach while ascribing words to Morsi.

Conclusion: An imbalanced editorial coverage by The New York Times, suggestions are made in a very authoritative and blatant way. Khaleej Times has a much fair line. Though at times it seems increasingly considerate for Morsi, but it strongly backs up whatever opinion it tends to formulate.

Sources:

[1] Lawrence (2009) From Bullets to Ballot: Violent Muslim Movements in Transition, Transaction Publishers

[2] Bowker Robert (2010), Egypt and the Politics of Change in the Arab Middle East, Edward Elgan Publishing.

[3] Vincent H. (2012), Bombers, Hijackers, Body Scanners, and Jihadists, Xlibris Corporation

[4] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32538.htm#.ULeFafkDL8k.email

Editorials retrieved from the online versions of The New York Times and Khaleej Times.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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Islamophobia Intensifying into Islamorealism


As images of the twin tower collapsing flashed on the television screens, Al Qaeda was alleged for carrying them out. The world was segregated into ‘evil’ and ‘bad’ by the president of a hegemonic state. Muslims forcibly had to wear the tag of ‘terrorist’. The ‘war on terror’ was against all those who were with Al Qaeda and its leader, world’s most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden.

This war has covered a time period of 11 years and after a decade of blood shed Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a secretive operation by the US NAVY SEALs. If this is what the US wanted then the world must have been converted into a peaceful abode. The terrorist groups must have been eliminated by now and Muslims all around the world wouldn’t have been suffering from such discriminatory tortures. Every bearded man or a Pakistani wouldn’t have been stigmatized for his adherence to the injunctions of Islam. The ‘war on terror’ has inflamed the world by using ‘hate speech’, ‘psychological manipulation’ and ‘unethical stereotyping’. It’s not just the Muslims now, one of the world’s most tolerant states was literally shaken when at least 87 were shot dead by an eccentric Christian at Oslo, back in 2011. Anders Behring Breivik underwent a psychological check up and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Cemil Çiçek told a session on intercultural dialogue as part of the Third Consultation Meeting of the Parliamentary Speakers of the G20 Countries in Riyadh that:

“As people in North Africa and Middle East risk their lives to fight an honorable struggle that highlights the joint values of humanity; in Europe racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are on the rise with the economic crisis. It is of great concern that political parties portraying migrants as a source of security concern, unemployment, crime, poverty and other social problems are increasing their support.”

This year we saw outrageous demonstrations against an anti-Islam film by Muslims all around the world. Things have gone beyond the poor and unjust notion of ‘Islamophobia’- which doesn’t imply a good picture of the world at all.

Rick Jacobs in his op-ed contribution for The New York Times discusses ‘The Sin of Sowing Hatred of Islam’ on September 25, 2012. According to him:

“The American Freedom Defense Initiative is the group spearheading this provocative anti-Islam campaign. In July, a federal judge in New York ruled in favor of the group in a freedom of speech case, forcing New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to place an ad that denigrates Islam in subway stations, and now, time may have run out for further appeals. It reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Those ads went up Monday.
What is the message of this ad, directed at the multitude of subway riders of countless faiths and ethnicities?
By using the term “jihad” in the context of a war against savages, the ad paints Islam as inherently violent, evil and bent on overthrowing the Western democracies and their key ally in the Middle East, Israel — even though, for the vast majority of Muslims, “jihad” refers to a spiritual quest, not the more politicized idea of holy war.
Yes, these ads are lawful. But they are wrong and repugnant”.

It’s an alarming incident. The dichotomy of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is getting more distinct. Where evil is being used as a synonym for the Muslims. Flawed and irrational concept of Islamophobia is burgeoning up as Islamorealism. It is just another well organized attempt to sling mud at the world’s fastest spreading religion. While the Arab world is engulfed with Syrian massacre and calls for self-determination, if Muslims won’t properly react to this strengthening ‘propaganda’ against them, then more anti-Islam films will be released soon.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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