FROM THE EDITOR
TBS senior editor Walter Armbrust kicks off TBS's fifteenth electronic issue by proclaiming once and for all that Al Jazeera is not a medium.
Armbrust's editorial also heads up Volume 2 of TBS's hard-copy edition, featuring the best of TBS Online, plus peer-reviewed articles by Marwan Kraidy on the politics of Arab reality TV and Nicholas J. Cull on US public diplomacy broadcasting during the first Gulf War.
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REAL (ARAB) WORLD:
Reality television shows are some of the most popular -- and controversial -- programs on Arab satellite TV. In the peer-reviewed article Reality Television and Politics in the Arab World, TBS contributing editor Marwan Kraidy offers his observations on the public discourse surrounding hit shows Super Star, Star Academy and Al Ra'is (Big Brother). Based on textual analysis of the programs themselves and recent fieldwork in Beirut, Dubai and London, Kraidy's article explores the role of reality and politics in the Pan-Arab public sphere.
Taking up the debate on whether taboo-busting reality shows, with their hotly contested elections and cohabiting contestants, represent "the best hope" for democracy in the Middle East, Marc Lynch argues ‘Reality is not Enough,’ while TBS managing editor Lindsay Wise examines how some Islamists have decided to appropriate the reality TV trend instead of boycotting it, raising the question of Whose Reality is Real?
In ‘Zii`!’ (Broadcast It!) Leah Harris and Nader Uthman take a look at the politics of class and consumer culture in Egypt's popular version of Candid Camera while Joe F. Khalil draws on his experience as a consultant for Arab entertainment channels to take TBS readers Inside Reality Television.
Marlin Dick evaluates the politics of Arab TV serials in The State of the Musalsal, while John Shoup's As It Was, And As It Should Be Now reviews representations of Al Andalus in Arab television's popular historical dramas, asking whether they are a form of social and political self-criticism.
In TV Versus Terrorism, Ursula Lindsey investigates whether the popular "terrorist" theme that characterized so many of this year's Ramadan soap operas reflected an eagerness on the part of Arab governments to spread an anti-terrorism message, while authorities simultaneously banned shows portraying corruption or sectarian tensions.
In A Potential Untapped? Ramez Malouf ponders why the dubbing of Western TV shows and films has yet to catch on in the Arab world, despite the popularity of subtitled programs like Friends and Days of Our Lives.
DIPLOMACY UNDER FIRE:
In the peer-reviwed article ‘The Perfect War’, Nicholas J. Cull compares the performance of US public diplomacy broadcasting during Desert Sheild and Desert Storm to the current "hearts and minds" efforts of George W. Bush's war on terror.
In Eulogy to Rebirth? Alvin Snyder tracks the evolution of US public diplomacy broadcasting from its origins in the Cold War to its current reincarnation under the auspices of the State Department, where Karen Hughes now marshals America's battle to improve its image abroad. As Snyder reveals, Hughes is seeking help from an unexpected quarter: Bush administration antagonist Al Jazeera.
Jihad N. Fakhreddine
suggests Public Diplomacy Czar Hughes needs to go back to basics
and take an introductory course in Public
Diplomacy 101, while former US ambassador William A.
Rugh offers some outsider observations on Anti-Americanism
on Arab Television, arguing that Arab media bias is not the source
of America's image problems abroad.
THE ARAB WORLD:
reviews how the rise of Iranian satellite channels has led to a Battle
of the Airwaves.
MEDIA AND MUBARAK:
In a special section focusing on Egypt as a case study for the relationship between the Arab media and the ballot box, TBS contributing editor Charles Levinson observes Plus ca Change in his analysis of the fourth estate's role in Egypt's first contested presidential elections, and Paul Schemm evaluates the impact of campaign advertising on Mubarak's self-made image as the perfect ‘Citizen and Leader’.
In Campaign Confidential, TBS assistant editor Usama Najeeb gives readers an exclusive insider's view within 'Mubarak 2005' headquarters, while Vivian Salama relates what it was like to be a reporter Embedded in the Mubarak Campaign.
PAN-ARAB NEWS MEDIA:
TBS senior editor
Lawrence Pintak interviews Nigel
Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera International, about
the much-anticipated English-language incarnation of the controversial
Arabic news network.
Adel Iskandar asks whether Al Jazeera should still be considered an "alternative" channel in Mainstreaming Alterity and Assimilating Discourses of Dissent
SATELLITE TV AND DEMOCRACY:
TBS editorial board member Kai Hafez asks whether Arab satellite broadcasting has taken over some of the roles usually played by political parties in Democracy Without Political Parties?
Philip Seib suggests new media technologies like satellite TV, instant messaging, mobile phones and the Internet are changing Middle East politics and Reconnecting the World.
TBS publisher S. Abdallah Schleifer expounds on The Impact of Arab Satellite Television on the Prospects for Democracy in the Arab World, while Hanna Ziadeh gives A Personal Account of Eclectic Lebanese Media Affinities to make the case that local television channels, rather than Pan-Arab TV heavyweights like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, played the most crucial role in mobilizing Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution."
Issandr El Amrani discloses the shortcomings of reform efforts in Egypt's state-owned broadcasting service in The Long Wait.
In October 2005, more than 500 media development professionals from dozens of countries gathered in Amman, Jordan for the first summit of the Global Forum for Media Development, a new alliance of organizations involved in media training activities around the world. The location of the gathering was significant: Jordan’s King Abdullah has pointed toward the media as evidence of civil society reforms meant to move his country on the road toward democratization. To drive that message home to the assembled media professionals, the government organized a panel discussion involving then-Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Moasher and representatives of the government-sponsored and independent press which turned into a fascinating free-for-all debate over the difference between cosmetic and structural reform. TBS senior editor Lawrence Pintak recorded the fireworks. Here is an edited transcript.
Chalaby, Jean K. (Ed.).
Transnational Television Worldwide: Toward a New Media Order.
London: I.B. Tauris, 2005. 264 pages. Paperback. ISBN 1-85043-548-0. $24.95.
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2006 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
TBS is published by the Adham Center for Electronic Journalism, the American University in Cairo and the Middle East Centre, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, UK