Do We Report ‘The Arab Spring’ Fairly?

As midsummer day approaches, the ‘Arab Spring’ of democratic revolts of varying degrees is still in full bloom, and shows all the signs of becoming an Arab Summer, Autumn and Winter.

How did (and do) we report it?

– Were we too optimistic and not nuanced enough, especially on television?

– Are some of them really ‘Twitter/Facebook’ revolutions? Did Twitter cause the revolution; was it an accelerant or just a sideshow?

A joint BBC College of Journalism/Coventry Conversations/Lincoln Journalism event will discuss these questions, looking at the reporting of the ‘Arab Spring’ from 360 degrees. Those who were and are on the frontline will give testimony – like Alex Thomson and Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 News and Jon Leyne and Nick Springate of BBC News, plus Mohamed Yehia of BBC Arabic online, fresh off a plane from Egypt.

Writes John Mair…

From the start of this series of BBC College of Journalism/Coventry Conversations conferences two years ago, we have combined practitioners with academics. Kevin Marsh, late of the BBC parish, chairs with a firm hand. This is the fourth such collaboration. All resulted in swiftly published books. Academics are amazed at how fast they come out: Face the Future: The Internet and Journalism Today is out; Investigative Journalism: Dead or Alive? is due for publication in September. Mirage will follow in December.

These conferences and books are intellectual speed-dating, with each speaker getting just 15 minutes to put their argument. The academics find that limit tough. Well, tough: they can expand in the book – up to 5,000 words. Does it work? You decide by coming along to Coventry or watching the videos on this site, later this week. Full details of the event here.

John Mair is a senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University, the founder of Coventry Conversations, and a former BBC producer.

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