By Naomi Sakr
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Additional info for ARAB MEDIA AND POLITICAL RENEWAL Community, Legitimacy and Public Life
TELEVISION TALK SHOWS One further editorial practice to be considered in the light of public sphere theory is the broadcasting of political debate. 53 Close scrutiny of these shows provides evidence to refute both the proposition that television talk shows involve open, rational dialogue and the claim that salon-style discussion has ‘migrated’ to the airwaves. Political talk shows, an innovation in Arab media, were conceived as flagship programmes for Al-Jazeera. In practice, according to both Western and Arab critics, they have often been characterised more by emotion and a lack of rationality than by rationality.
61 Yet evidence suggests that much television news journalism to and from the region, far from fostering the emergence of critical-rational dialogue, actually hinders it. Assessed against the backdrop of the three-way public sphere typology set out earlier, the global media landscape that now includes pan-Arab media seems not to fulfil the necessary criteria in any convincing way. If the existence of a pan-European public sphere has to be ruled out under the traditional-sceptical model, then the same would clearly be true of a pan-Arab, and therefore an Arab–Western, public sphere.
An obsession with up-to-the-minute reporting tends to produce mostly ‘snack news journalism’, lacking in coverage of causes or structures. Crisis communication needs sustainability, in the sense that the public needs to be informed about circumstances likely to produce crises before they happen. Likewise, information is needed not only on the day of an attack but years later, about its aftermath and consequences. Competition between broadcasters seeking to break the latest news gives a false impression of sustainability.
ARAB MEDIA AND POLITICAL RENEWAL Community, Legitimacy and Public Life by Naomi Sakr