Tunisia “Mesmerized” Journalists

Worth a re-read, (especially) in light of current events in Tunisia: this CJR piece from November in which Justin D. Martin asked, “Has Tunisia Mesmerized Journalists?”

Tunisia’s “record on free speech and political rights is abysmal,” wrote Martin, and yet “distractions,” including the country’s “gilded beaches,” “have led journalists to give the Tunisian regime a pass.”

More Martin:

Too many journalists have subsidized Tunisia with coddling coverage of its economic success, gleaming shores, and espresso-scented sidewalks. It’s tempting, I know. I’m writing on a sunny hotel balcony overlooking a street that could be Rome’s.

But this is the Bill Cosby version of Tunisia, not the unvarnished one, and the people that live in the real Tunisia deserve more critical eyes on their handlers.

Food for thought as you read current news coverage.

And, speaking of, The Economist’s Newsbook blog has a round-up of “What the Arab papers say” about Tunisia (or, what they said, since the post was published two days ago).

Also, the LA Times today takes a look at Al Jazeera, its Tunisia coverage and its place in the Arab media. A taste (the story’s sub-head):

Al Jazeera’s rapid-paced, visceral coverage of the Tunisian upheaval has riveted viewers across the Middle East. Many see it as a big voice in a landscape of burgeoning Arab dissent. But governments accuse it of bias.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.