The five media sources used fall into two camps regarding the story. Two of the sources are unbiased, but the other three are not. The Huffington Post can already provide numerous in-depth articles related to the ouster and trial of Mubarak. This has to do with the relatively unrestrained nature of even a famous blog where viewers are also allowed to be contributors. The existence of a known entity does not guarantee that it is the same as a reliable source. It is more difficult to police and control a site that has that many contributors. The Huffington Post blog entry appears professional and unbiased. The facts leading to the trial and the final verdict are reported. This article conveys a sense of integrity in the writing. However, it is important to confirm the facts with a comparison of sources created by professionals held responsible for their videos and writings.
The next source is the BBC that uses language guaranteed to catch the eye and to influence the readers. The word “deaths” is present in the headline and a subheading mentions “years of darkness.” The article wants to convey more the emotions of those involved than provide factual details. This story is more sensational than informative. The CNN video about Mubarak receiving a life sentence is only two minutes and 14 seconds. This makes it impossible to go into any detail on perhaps the most important event related to the Arab Spring. This video (like the BBC story) plays on sensationalism when it opens with discussing Mubarak ruling Egypt with an iron fist. This is clearly not an unbiased report.
The next source used is the press release put out by Amnesty International. The organization makes no attempt to disguise the bias against Mubarak. The statement says that, “His security forces were given free rein to kill, torture and imprison people.” The press release is short with a focus on the need to do more to bring closure for the people of Egypt. The end of the statement emphasizes that Amnesty International has won the Nobel Peace Prize. This gives an impression that the use of clearly biased language is acceptable from such an organization.
The final source is an article that appears in the Spring 2012 issue of Middle East Policy. This article is about the reforming process needed so that Egypt will be able to hold free and fair elections. Although the article does start with a mention of the authoritarian regime of Mubarak, the writing is an in-depth and comprehensive overview of the changes necessary to create a democratic and transparent voting process.
Three of the five sources are designed in various degrees to inflame public opinion against Mubarak. The most scholarly source is the Middle East Policy and the least scholarly is Huffington Post; both provide the most balanced and unbiased look at Egypt and Mubarak. The wording and images chosen always have been able to effect society in either a positive or negative way. Three of the sources take a route which seems more designed to guarantee an increased number of readers or viewers. The three sources are technically correct, but they lack the balance that should be a hallmark of responsible journalism. The Spanish-American War started primarily because of irresponsible yellow journalism. Both William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer fanned the flames so that they could sell more newspapers. Although the three biased sources do not reach that level, they certainly could be more objective in what they write and in the videos that they create. As someone interested in the Middle East, I will continue to look toward Middle East Policy and Huffington Post as news sources. Since the latter is at least partly created by those who bear no professional responsibility for contents, I will continue to read while making sure to confirm the veracity of the information.
BBC News. (2012). Mubarak jailed for protest deaths. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk. Accessed: June 02, 2012.
Faris, D.M. (2012, Spring). Constituting institutions: The electoral system in Egypt. Middle East
Policy, 19(1), 140-154. Accessed: June 02, 2012.
Hendawi, H. & Michael, M. (2012). Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's ousted president, sentenced to
life in prison. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com. Accessed: June 02, 2012.
Mubarak sentenced to life in prison [Video file]. Available from CNN
Website: http://www.edition.cnn.com/video. Accessed: June 02, 2012.
Trimel, S. (2012). Amnesty International says Mubarak verdict an important step, but full truth
about victims’ deaths during uprising must be uncovered to deliver justice. Amnesty
International. Retrieved from http://www.amnestyusa.org. Accessed: June 02, 2012.