January 18, 2008
Media criticism and blaming the victims
A new issue of Arab Media and Society is out, and well worth a look. I found the long article on mulid music in Egypt, basically inshad remixed as dance music, fascinating (here's their extended mulid dance party mix), and this piece on the rise and fall of London as an Arab media hub was quite good as well. Also noted without comment is my review of Al Jazeera correspondent (and ex-Marine) Josh Rushing's ghosted autobiography.
However, I want to take issue with AMS editor Lawrence Pintak's opening editorial.
In his overview of the year in Arab media, Pintak discusses the climbing death toll among journalists in the Arab world, and mainly in Iraq, saying:
There are many reasons journalists have become targets in the conflict zones of the Middle East and broader Muslim world. Among them is the sad reality that the media has allowed itself to become a weapon of war and, in the process therefore, a target.
This strikes me as crossing the line from media criticism to blaming the victims. Pintak's desire to see a media that is nonpartisan and non-sensationalist has overwhelmed his analysis of the cause of the violence against journalists, which goes back to the nature of the conflict in Iraq.
In that war, the media have been attacked not because they are a weapon of war, but because they are an element of the civil functioning of society, and the insurgency's tactics in fighting the war include attempting to disrupt that functioning. Pintak points out that 207 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began, but well over 100 doctors have also died; are they also partially to blame?
The only way the media could have been anything but a target in the war is if they had no significant effect on society whatsoever. Even if this was possible, I doubt Pintak would find such a development praiseworthy.
Posted by tomscud at January 18, 2008 01:41 PM
Filed Under: MENA Region General
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Well, at least he acknowledges that war journalists' work has a broader significance, unlike Vladimir Putin, who apparently thinks that the poltically motivated murders of war journalists are insignificant.
Posted by: Eva Luna at January 18, 2008 03:25 PM