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Framing in the Media

August 30, 2011

Since the opposition to Mubarak in Egypt attracted the media’s attention, the series of revolutionary struggles throughout the Middle East and North Africa has been labeled Arab Spring. There is little doubt the name draws a parallel between the current events and Prague Spring, a period of reform in Prague during the Cold War. The association between the two posits that the rebels signal the arrival of political reform and democratic practices. Reporters should strive for objectivity, yet using Arab Spring undermines journalists’ position as a neutral entity.

Already we can raise questions concerning the legitimacy of the term Arab Spring. A New York Times article describes the sentiment of a captured loyalist, Faraj Mohamed. Mohamed censors himself when speaking in front of the rebels, demonstrating a continuing suppression of freedom of speech. The reporter, David Kirkpatrick writes:

“When the rebel captors entered, Mr. Mohamed often abruptly switched the tone of his comments. ‘Now I think that all Libya is more united,’ he volunteered at one point, temporarily contradicting his previous statements for the benefit of his captors.”

As Americans, we are taught to celebrate events demonstrative of power of the people. Nevertheless, the accuracy of the name Arab Spring cannot be determined until the rebels assume power and construct a new government.

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