108727470

by Chris Bodenner

Lawrence Pintak praises the network:

The media is by no means the only force at play in the continuing upheaval in Egypt, the Tunisian revolution, or the copy-cat demonstrations going on elsewhere in the Arab world. At root is a raw anger fed by decades of political, intellectual, and economic stagnation that has led to a powerful convergence of the region's three main political trends -- pan-Arab nationalism, nation-state nationalism, and Islamism.

However, Arab media have been at the vanguard of articulating this new and explosive development. Arab satellite television, such as Al Jazeera -- and the increasingly aggressive ethos of Arab print journalism exemplified by newspapers like Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm and Tunisia's crusading Kalima Tunisie -- have fueled a sense of common cause among Arabs across the region every bit as real as the "imagined communities" that are at the core of the concept of nation.

Jeb Koogler, while also lauding Al Jazeera's role in Egypt, doubts it will have the same kind of impact elsewhere in the Arab world:

[S]ome Western commentators are taking their enthusiasm for Al Jazeera a bit far in assuming that the network will play a similarly positive role if protests in the region continue to spread. It's far from clear that Al Jazeera will be so gung-ho in its coverage of anti-government protests if the location were, say, Syria or Saudi Arabia. Or Qatar, for that matter, where the network is based. Al Jazeera blatantly refrains from criticism of a number of regimes and is quick to provide critical reporting of others. Egypt has long been the subject of some of the network's most critical coverage, so it's no surprise that Al Jazeera has embraced this story of anti-government ire. But Syria, on the other hand, were the protests to spread there, might find that Al Jazeera's coverage was much less sympathetic towards any type of protest movement.

(Photo: A Lebanese activist a drawing of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak blocking the logo of Qatari based Al-Jazeera satellite channel during a sit-inn to protest against the closure of its offices in Egypt, outside its offices in Beirut on February 2, 2011. By Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.