Friday, February 11, 2011

Journalistic Bias Remarkably Absent on Egypt: Dangers Avoided for Now

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (Oxford History of the United States)  Freedom from the Grip of Fear: A Process for Reclaiming Your Life A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. Long Walk to Freedom Fear No Evil

The coverage of the war of wills between Egypt's president and protesters in Egypt is a case of the best of journalism. Journalistic bias could have raised the levels of fear and weakened efforts toward peaceful change. The best of journalism might have prevented grave harm among dictatorship, military, and civilian elements. The best of commentary on the military's restraint, for example, gave hope for continued calm. On TV, CNN, BBC World News (particularly notable was Lyse Ducet in Cairo, among others), Fox News, and FBN, broadcasts this writer followed, journalists took great care, professionally. They did little to analyze, but focused on history, context, questions, and interviews with protesters, with remarkable emotional restraint shown by those reporting on camera.  

Less than two hours ago, Egypt's vice-president announced that president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has resigned, change within a day of his announcement indicating he would never do such a thing. Peaceful protests won change, and the war of wills is over, at least at the top stage.

The praise-worthy journalistic behaviors up to that time and ongoing remind the watching, reading, and listening world that  responsible reporting brings enormous value. During the protests and events in Egypt recently, the world has relied on the words of journalists. We have hung on their words for over two weeks. They have, for the most part, avoided the journalistic trap that could have led to dangers on the ground. They have helped by staying calm and by being courageous, staying and, for some, enduring violence.

Bias did creep in, at times, among analysts and panelists whose political and philosophical views did emerge, taking sides and predicting outcomes that were no more than guesses.

Most journalists have restrained themselves about the possible or probable influences upon various groups among the protesters, whether Muslim, other Arab secular nations, or other influences. This part of the story contains unanswered questions, as does the present situation.

The fact is that President Mubarak resigned today. That we also are hearing, seeing, and will read about for a while. The happiness now is a relief, the future yet to be lived, the outcomes yet to be seen.

The bias for freedom is strong, and who can say it is bad? Today's celebration in Tahrir and elsewhere is real, and appears to be aware, There are days and months ahead, toward another election, and without Mubarak, it appears. As with every big change in nations, peaceful means under pressure have proven the best microphone for freedom's cries. 

(c) 2011 Jean Purcell
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