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Egypt's Media at a Crossroads: Between Flourishing Freedoms and Calamitous Crisis
Lina Attalah and Adel Iskandar
The eruption of the January 25 Revolution precipitated an explosion of critical media content and a proliferation of independent and private media enterprises. Most of the top private television networks in Egypt today are openly critical of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, Egyptian popular political satirist, Bassem Youssef, faces charges of insulting President Morsi, disturbing the peace, and expressing contempt for Islam. Non-Islamist private media have assumed the role of oppositional media, and there is a growing environment of threat and intimidation against journalists. Reinforcing these various restrictions is a deteriorating state of the economy, which has placed tremendous financial constraints on private media, and their ability to provide credible spaces for independent news coverage and alternative voices. What do we make of these contradictions? How can we best understand the transformations currently underway in Egypt's media? What are the repercussions for the country?
Lina Attalah is Managing Editor at Egypt Independent (formerly Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition). She studied journalism at the American University in Cairo. Before joining Egypt Independent, she wrote for Reuters, Cairo Times, the Daily Star, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. In 2005, she worked as a radio producer and campaign coordinator with the BBC World Service Trust in Darfur, Sudan. She also worked as project manager for a number of research-based projects with multimedia outputs around the themes of space, mobility, and intellectual history. Lina is particularly drawn to border areas, where human geography issues of conflict are rampant.
Adel Iskandar is a scholar of media and international communication. He is the author and coauthor of several works including Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism (Basic Books, 2003). Iskandar's work deals with the intersections of media, culture, identity, and politics. He has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. His latest publications include two coedited volumes entitled Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation (University of California Press, 2010) and Mediating the Arab Uprisings (Tadween, 2013). His forthcoming work is the authored anthology Egypt In Flux: Essay on an Unfinished Revolution (OUP/AUC Press, 2013) which grew out of his writings for Egypt Independent. Iskandar teaches at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Communication, Culture and Technology program.
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