Uncivil War of Words: Media and Politics in the Arab WorldMarch 2, 2008 10:56 pm General, Journalism, Publications
Dr. Fandy spent over two years developing this thorough study of the interaction of Arab media within the Arab world and with the West. Much of his analysis may surprise a general reader. Even if not owned by governments, most key media outlets are controlled by autocratic governments–hence, the public/private dichotomy is not as useful as it is in the West. Those who own media outlets use them to push forward their political ideas more directly than Western media do, and being a journalist in his world is very (and too) often a blood sport. The Arab media both shapes and is shaped by the historical and political context of the region. From this Fandy concludes that the media is seldom part of what Western scholars call “civil society.” The US fares poorly in Arab media, partly because it was the target of Soviet propaganda for a half century and inherited all the criticism of Western imperialism. The author suggests the US has to get out of the media business and work through cadres of local supporters if it wants to succeed. Overall, this is certainly the deepest, if not the best, of recent such work. Essential. General readers, graduate students through practitioners. To Buy The Book
One of the more noteworthy developments in the Middle East is the emergence of competing Arabic-language radio and television networks that seek to attract a pan-Arab mass audience. The best known of these among Western audiences is the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network. Others include the Saudi-supported Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeeras main competitor, and the Al-Manar news channel, which is owned and operated by the Lebanese Hezbollah. In recent years, the United States has sought to use its media power to win the battle of hearts and minds by launching the Arabic-language Radio Sawa and Al-Hurra TV as counterweights to Al-Jazeera. In this readable and informative book, Fandy offers a critical analysis of the role played by the media, especially the pan-Arab television networks, in shaping political debate in the Middle East. The authors main thesis is that the Arab media lack journalistic autonomy and are simply an extension of their respective government policies. For example, he contends that the two major TV networks, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, function primarily as conduits for Qatari-Saudi rivalry and tension. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.Library Journal
Fandy corrects the simplistic debate over whether Al-Jazeera is an independent source that scoops the Western media on Bin Laden’s story, or is only the media arm of Al-Qaeda. First he points out that Al-Jazeera is one of over 700 satellite television stations competing for viewers in the Arab world. Then he examines the nature of the media outlets as a group, who is behind them, what characterizes their programming, how they relate to governments and external political battles, and other matters.Reference & Research Book News
As the war on terror rages, another battleground has quickly taken shape and is being waged on daily newscasts around the world. In the Arab world, al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya are leading the fight. But do these news networks simply provide the news? Or, are they, as westerners suspect, tools used by governments and terrorists alike to relay their message to the man on the street as both Arab and Western leaders struggle to win the hearts and minds of millions of people? Fandy examines the impact that these and other news organizations have had on the war on terror, on the Arab world, and on the relationships that Arab nations share with each other, as well as those they share with the West. Focusing on al-Jazeera and other Arab networks, Fandy examines the battle between the Arab world and the West through the popular medium of television. He explores how autocratic governments control the media in order to preserve their own power while simultaneously engaging in a war of words, with their neighbors, the West, or many times, both.