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Facebook Revolutions

This is a follow-up to a blog from last year that never appeared.  The so-called Arab Spring has proved a disaster for several countries.  Should we be surprised?  Well, many people are surprised and that does not surprise me. Our media outlets let us down badly. Often what passed for coverage of mass protests involved phoning some westernized  yuppie-type in the crowd.  Now, there’s no harm in some first-hand accounts. But these interviews with strident no-bodies, who seemed to have been selected for interview solely because they owned a cell phone, formed the mainstay of the coverage of events of many, way too many, news bulletins. Many of these interviews did little to reflect mainstream opinion in the Middle East, or perhaps even of the majority of the protestors. There are a couple reasons why this happened. Mainly, I suspect, because was  a cheap way of covering events. Just work out what the Egyptian or Yemeni  cell phone number system and dial until you get someone at the protest. Secondly, journalists desperately wanted a revolution organised on Facebook or Twitter.  Most journalists these days are only a couple of years older than the folk they interviewed by cellphone and are yuppies themselves.  Perhaps  if our media had made more effort to speak to people who were not just like them in Cairo’s Tahrir Square we would have realised where the protests would lead.  In Egypt the democratic elections which followed the protests apparently got it wrong.  A military coup was needed to correct the will of the people.  And let’s not get started on Libya.  Newsrooms throughout the western world are just too homogenized  - children of privilege abound and dominate.  Journalism has always been an occupation dominated by the privileged classes but they have now succeeded in almost entirely eliminating anyone from the news room who isn’t just like them.  A good newsroom used to keep a variety of horses for a variety of courses.  Now we have race horses making a mess of trying to pull milk carts.

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