Home > Uncategorized > Egypt crisis: Media coverage of Tahrir Square – UN provides the balance

Egypt crisis: Media coverage of Tahrir Square – UN provides the balance

An empty Tahrir Square... uuh, does that mean there is no pressure on Mubarak?

An empty Tahrir Square... uuh, does that mean there is no pressure on Mubarak?

Egypt in crisis, a fading war on terror, Muslim issues pricking up the ears of the West, Middle-East peace process in jeopardy, imperialist throttle waning…

…the media finally has a balanced and stable bridge to discussing these issues as Ban Ki-moon announces a cautious agenda.

The sudden and unexpected revolutionary pluck of the Egyptian population has scuppered the media’s intelligence as well as the “intelligence” of Western Middle-East diplomats.

The coverage of the Egyptian “crisis” has so far amounted to a blank-faced glare at a simplistic and arbitrary statistic: how many protesters are there standing in Tahrir square?

The Independent – to its own credit – has kept the spotlight unrelentingly on Egypt, but with a particular focus on Tahrir Square.  The paper even went so far as to lead with a story claiming that there were now less protesters in Tahrir Square, as if the movement was some kind of political weather front (08/02). 

A front page caption illustrated this thought-process below a relatively deserted Tahrir Square:

After 14 days of unrest, the protesting crowds were thinner yesterday morning

but they added…

…although numbers increased later in the day.

But this lead is justified by an unwritten mutual media agreement that the less protesters there are in Tahrir Square, the less pressure there is on the Government of Egypt to stand down.

Like Sadam Hussein’s statue toppling in Iraq, the media is susceptible to visual metaphors, and when there is a lack of considered sources to cite, the images become the focus.

But, enter stage left…  It’s only the UN!  Ban Ki-Moon has called for calm.

Thank the un-mighty Murdoch that the press will finally be able to throw in a note of Western caution to the unrelenting calls for immediate change… something along the lines of:

“Perhaps what will come of a hasty change, may not be as democratic and desirable as many would wish.”

Let’s just hope any stand-offish, reactionary press comment does not ignore what Ban Ki-moon so rightly predicated the above fabricated (but realistically translated) supposition with:

“The government leaders should listen more attentively to the genuine aspirations of people and there should be a transition and the sooner the better.”

Ban Ki-moon from UN headquarters New York

Let’s also be glad that the UN kicked off their agenda by oiling some important tools of democracy:

 I call on all parties to avoid violence and to ensure freedom of expression and information.

Ban Ki moon again.

In fact the UN stated relatively early (with more conspicuous strength than any demands upon the military) that the media should be allowed to act freely in serving the people of a democratic society.

However, the pendulum of politics must not be allowed to swing in favour of a delay or excuse, simply because the UN has added a reasonable note of caution to the overwhelming call for change.

But will the media allow breathing room for this sensitive compromise…


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