New Media and the Arab Public - 1 Melissa Damon Commu 400...

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1 Melissa Damon Commu 400 Professor Young What Effects are New Media Such as Satellite Television and the Internet Having in the Arab World? “Arab satellites have done probably for the Arab world more than any organized critical movement could have done, in opening up the public space, in giving Arab citizens a newly found opportunity to assert themselves.” -- Saad Eddin Ibrahim (2004) The integration of new media vehicles such as satellite television and the internet into the Arab world have had profound effects on its society in several different ways. The effects that these devices have had on the people in this region have brought about increasing amounts of change that many thought never to be possible. New technological developments such as these have single-handedly changed the ways in which people in the Arab world do business, communicate, and ultimately think about different aspects in their world. In a world that was once solely dictated by government, this new information revolution has brought upon the people not only freedom of choice, but ultimately freedom of mind and a newfound awareness of their freedom to question. Increased availability of access to these devices have provoked changes in Arab society such as a sense of unification, feelings of freedom, and new accessibility to information unbeknownst to them. Not only has there been an increased free flow of information, but the incorporation of these new forms of media have also given the people of the Arab public a voice, and with that; an
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2 increased amount of power over society. As Marc Lynch states in his book Voices of the New Arab Public , “Technology has helped the Arab press to develop into a place of free discussion and debate.” (Lynch 2006) This paper will examine the effects that new media, specifically satellite television and the internet, have had on the Arab world. It will also take a look at how this information revolution came to be, and the ways that it has changed how people think, do business, communicate, and respond to their government. In addition, this paper will explain the certain aspects of Arab satellite television that have contributed to the complete turn around in the ways in which the Arab people feel about, challenge, and respond to their government and the events going on around them. The Evolution and History of New Media Satellite television has just recently come into the Arab world only in the last decade or so. According to Jon Alterman, author of New Media, New Politics? , regular television broadcasts did not begin in places such as Egypt and Yemen until the 1960s and 1970s. Today, an estimated 20% of the Arab world has access to satellite television, yet only about 10-15% of them regularly tune into satellite broadcasts. (Alterman 1998) Alterman explains that there were three developments that ultimately led to the rise in satellite television in the Arab world. The first was the response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq. The
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course COMMU 400 taught by Professor Young,kimberlyje during the Fall '07 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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New Media and the Arab Public - 1 Melissa Damon Commu 400...

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