How Can a Comparative Approach Help Us Address the Complex Media Environment in the Me beyond Euro-Centric Approaches and Theoretical Paradigms?



At present, it has been observed that media includes entertainment, the news media and traditional media and mass media. Thus, media includes televisions, newspaper, books, films, radio, and magazines, as well as, digital media such as the use of the internet (Luedecke & Boykoff, 2017). In this context, it can be stated that media ecology focuses on the effect of media on the perception, values, understanding and the values of an individual. Additionally, this also concentrates on the ways through which communication with media helps in facilitating survival of the human beings. Thus, ecology indicates that the study related to the environment, which further includes structure, its impact on the individuals, and content. Therefore, the environment can be considered as a complex message system that imposes different ways to feel, behave, and thinking. It has hence been evident that in the media environment, the details are more informal and implicit, in addition to being half concealed. It has often been obtained from the interrelationship between humans and the communications technologies (Islas & Bernal, 2016).

The comparative approach to media environment focuses on taking the standpoint that the public is required to be briefed in an adequate manner. Hence, this includes complete along with intelligent reporting of the public affairs, which can help them in making responsible and informed choices. This further assists to avoid taking actions on the basis of false information and ignorance. Thus, the contributors significantly focus on evaluating the overall perception of the manner, in which the shifting media environment has been influencing and informing the process of democracy all across the globe (Aalberg & Curran, 2012). On the other hand, Euro-centric approach can be referred as a biased worldwide view, which favours the western civilisation. Thus, the scope related to centrism differs from the rest of the world and includes only Europe or Western Europe (INFLIBNET, 2017).

The use of internet in the Middle East has become more concerned regarding the online surveillance. Hence, many are significantly concerned about the government using social media to survey their online activities. The Arab world has observed drastic changes with respect to the use of media and its attitudes towards the overall issue including free speech along with online privacy from the year. In the Middle Eastern nations such as Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan, the internet users obtain information through television as compared to the online sources. On the other hand, the people of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE focused on consuming news from the internet sources (Belaid, 2018). For instance, the media landscape in Egypt has helped in shaping and reflecting the transformative political environment in the historical setting in the nation. The media scenario also helped in manifesting in operating newspapers along with some semi-official dallies (Khamis, 2011). The objective of this particular study is to highlight the manner, in which comparative approach helps in addressing the overall complex media environment in the Middle East in comparison with the Euro-centric approach and theoretical paradigms. In addition, the study focuses on discussing different media systems in the Middle East on the basis of institutional and statistical perspective.

Media in the Middle East

The media all across the Arab World has been observed to be expanding, which has significantly changed the overall political landscape of the Middle Eastern region. Hence, for better or worse, the use of internet along with radio stations and satellite television are helping to foster the information as well as opinions. The information revolution, which changed the Western world, has been helping the transformation of the Arab world. In this context, social networking websites are considered as a medium that have helped in overcoming cultural barriers. Furthermore, it has been challenging the traditional orders at least to some extent. Satellite distribution has allowed the Middle Eastern region to have access with respect to the regional reach, which in turn, helped in bringing in the Arabic language news broadcast, in addition to a different talk show, and political debates, which were next to impossible ten years back. It was hence observed after the attack of 9/11 in the US that Al Jazeera was the solo station that broadcasted such news. It has also been evident that majority of the people in the US have heard regarding the news channel/station. However, it has been observed that only a few of them knew about the station and its competitors within the Arab world itself (The Stanley Foundation, 2006).

The roots relating to the use of media has been significantly expanding with the region of Middle East and can be traced with respect to the end of cold war along with the beginning of the US Gulf war. In the year 1991, it was observed that the new satellite technology helped in beaming the overall live coverage of the events that occurred in Iraq and Kuwait. Thus, this particular departure helped the Middle Eastern region to portray a completely new perspective. Hence, majority of the Arabs realised the information relating to the war displayed in the media from the Arab sources to be fake. This therefore indicated that the information was not true at all. Thus, Al Jazeera was launched in the year 1996, which was able to expand itself in the form of the daily news program within a short period of time (The Stanley Foundation, 2006).

The event of Arab Spring is often referred as the large wave relating to the political disorder, which affected different parts of the Middle East. This event highlighted a significant role of the new media use. Cyberactivism is defined as the role of the new media, which has helped in paving ways relating to the political transitions in the Middle East ever since the year 2011. It was hence evident that prior to 1990, most of the media were controlled by the government, which followed strict supervision along with the control. Thus, during this year, the government fully had complete control over the Arab media. It was hence observed that the use of new media was made possible after the 1990s with the introduction of the internet. Hence, within this particular context, it can be stated that cyberactivism is the act of internet use, which can be used for advancing online. The primary goal of cyberactivism is to develop emotional and intellectual digital artefacts, which were the stories related to injustice, thereby assisting to advocate the political outcomes (Khamis, 2013).

One of the most effective ways, in which the new media supported the political transformation within the Middle Eastern region was, widespread citizen journalism, the significance of which is hence based on the fact that the social media leaves the individuals unsatisfied with the old media version. However, the new media allows the citizens to share their stories. Furthermore, these patterns relating to political expression along with leaning are as essential for the establishment of democratic discourses. Hence, in this context, it has been indicated that Al Jazeera, as well as Al Arabia, helps in disseminating media by asking people or the citizens to send their videos (Khamis, 2013).

Different Media Systems in the Middle East

Media companies all around the world have been facing unprecedented challenges. Revenues from advertising are observed to be shrinking, as the consumer spending is getting reduced with the passage of time. While the media sector all across the globe has been declining, the media industry in the Middle East is on the rise. It has hence been evident that the pan-Arab media has been growing at a rapid speed, which has accounted for 19% on a yearly basis, comprising both online as well as offline channels. It has further been stated that the investment in this particular sector is continuously growing and the leaders in global media such as Al Jazeera along with the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) are forming a growing industry. The pan-Arab media, as well as the environment industry, has been observed to grow at a rapid rate in comparison with the other regions. This is largely supported by the reduction in the overall regulatory barriers in the region. The government of the Middle East have hence focused on moving the economy away from volatility (Kerney, 2009).

Newspapers along with magazines are observed to have a vibrant market in the Middle East and have also been evident that it is one of the markets, where the demand for traditional newspapers is still high. It generated about $3.7 billion in the year 2008. Furthermore, it was also observed that Al Jazeera created an impact on the local news landscape. This was due to the fact that it launched a network based on the English language in the year 2006, which was first ever broadcasted in the Middle East (Kerney, 2009). 

Media in Egypt

Media prior to the revolution of 1952 in Egypt was observed to be under the Ottoman rule, which struggled against the British and the French. This posed a serious impact on several newspaper and magazines, which was published in this particular era. Additionally, it has been evident that Egypt followed autocratic leadership under the President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who focuses on the implementation of iron fist policies. In this context, media played a significant role in criticising the media, as the mass media was controlled by the government for the purpose of mobilising people (Khamis, 2011). At present, Egypt is regarded as one of the essential media players in the region. The publications in Egypt are categorised into different groups, which includes state-owned publications. This comprises Al Ahram, Al Gomhuriya, and Al Akhbar and these publications are found not to be censored. However, it has been evident that the editors of these publications are appointed by the government (Mady, 2014).

The revolution in Egypt in the year 2011 significantly highlighted the use of new media, which further helped in ending the reign of President Mubarak for 30. This was also able to display the potential of the new media, especially the social media. The era of President Mubarak thus witnessed a drastic development, which posed a significant impact on the media landscape of Egypt. Thus, it led to the rise of media privatisation along with the launch of private satellite channels on the television and further resulted in spreading the newspapers that were privately owned (Khamis, 2011). 

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Media in Iran

Media in Iran, to a limited extent, has highlighted contradictions relating to the complex institutional architecture and political life within the Islamic Republic. The leader of Iran is therefore observed to live together with the other elective bodies, which includes the President of the Republic, which is considered as the government head of the Parliament. Media in Iran has hence been observed to be highly censored. The bloggers, as well as the journalists, thus face significant risks of being convicted on the basis of their activity. Iran is hence known for being one of the five biggest prisons with respect to media personnel. Furthermore, radio stations along with broadcasting are controlled by the Iranian government. Subsequently, the control on the overall activity with respect to the press is found to be highly strict due to which a large number of publications, mostly including the reformists, have largely been restrained over the years. However, simultaneously, the government has developed dallies as well as magazines (Zanconato, 2018).

 In addition, the nation has been observed to have a monopoly in radio broadcasting along with the television, which has also been mentioned under the Article 44 of the Iranian Constitution. These activities are controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The Director-General of IRIB is therefore appointed by the supreme leader. It has thus been evident that the media has a significant role in with the Iranian politics. It has further been observed that the fortunes have agreed relating to political awakening, which has often been characterised in the history of Iran. Iran at present publishes around 140 newspapers on a daily basis further focusing on including both local as well as national ones. Furthermore, no figures with respect to its circulation are evident. In this particular context, it has been observed that the biggest seller among the newspaper is Jam-e-Jam, owned by IRIB (Zanconato, 2018).

With respect to radio media, Iran significantly focuses on the following monopoly. However, Iranian-and-foreign owned stations are broadcasted from abroad, which is followed by a large number of audiences. Under the Article 175 of the Iranian Constitution, it can be stated that the only the Supreme leader can dismiss the head of IRIB. In addition to the radio, television is considered as the leader in terms of allowing the people to access the news, Hence, the control by IRIB helps in guaranteeing the Supreme leader with an effective political tool (Zanconato, 2018).

Media System of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is one of the most sophisticated as well as restricted media in the entire region of Middle East. In addition, print media has been observed to be owned privately however, they are subsidized publicly and are closely supervised by the Saudi government. Hence, all the newspapers in Saudi Arabia are developed by the royal decree. This is because Saudi Press Agency is owned by the government of Saudi Arabia, due to which it has significant influence over pan-Arab media (Green & Karolides, 2014). With respect to social media, it has been observed that the media is inseparable in nature. Contextually, it has been evident that the people of Saudi Arabia are highly engaged in using social media through the use of internet. It has further been evident that 39% of the Saudis are active in Facebook while 31% are engaged with Twitter (Davies, 2015). 

Additionally, it has also been evident that Saudi Arabia has suppressed media environment all across based on the reports presented by Freedom House. The overall content of domestic mass media of Saudi Arabia is under the control of the government and has to pass through censors prior to being printed on air. Furthermore, it has been evident that the editor-in-chief relating to each of the newspaper is government assigned. The government of Saudi Arabia also has strict practices with respect to the use of internet in the entire world. Thus, criticism associated with either religious leaders or families is not tolerated by the government. It has also been observed that at many instances, the journalists are banned and in certain situations, it can also lead to closing down the offices within the nation. Thus, media environment of Saudi Arabia can be considered as highly controlled (University of Florida, n.d.). 

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Eurocentric Media

Media development was observed to start within the mid and late 1990s as an important field in the context of international development. However, it has been evident that the development of media has struggled with several complexities. Media development over the years has hence been significantly criticised with respect to media producers, thereby neglecting media consumers. Hence, it can be argued that it needs to develop a base of broadcasters as well as enhance training for the journalists. It has further been evident over the last two decades; the development of media has been highly criticised for Eurocentric. This is due to the media’s high emphasis upon the ranking scale of the nation, which is constructed on the basis of different criteria along with using separate methodologies (Vokes, 2017). The growing tension between politics and interest of media has imposed significant threat within the context of democracy in Europe. It has further been observed that the political understanding with relation to the influence of journalism as well as the significance of free media with respect to democracy has been observed to decrease decline (European Federation of Journalists, 2017).

In this context, the situation in Europe in the perspective of European Union has been observed to be in demand. This is regardless of the international negotiation capacity of the European Union. However, it is considered not as bad as the Israeli media, which has in turn made undeniably malicious comments. Thus, from the European perspective, Israel is observed to be important. In the European perspective, Israel under the leadership of Sharon was expected to continue the process of ethnic cleaning, which indicated that the nation was not capable of being admitted within the Union. It was further evidence that there was no majority relating to both the side of Israel for joining the European Union. It was thus observed that states’ political along with the intellectual elite had been involved in debates regarding its ties with Europe (Veit, 2006).

In addition, it has been observed that the recent tendencies with respect to the Muslims with Europe in the global context are not be underestimated. Hence, considering the clash of civilisation, it became widespread after cold war’s end. This was significantly evident after the attacks of 9/11 in the US. This particular event along with actions taken by Jihadis attributed towards the situation, in which the Muslims were more stigmatised on the basis of ‘guilty by association’ (Bunzl, 2007). Some of the observers in the US have suggested that the pro-Palestine position of Europe is highly motivated due to anti-Semitism. With respect to this particular viewpoint, the US focused on spate attacks on the various Jewish institutions within Europe. This highlighted a strong biasness of the European media against Israel. Furthermore, the government of Europe have focused on making strict hate crime laws, thereby enhancing education as well as prevention programmes. The European also stressed on Israel’s criticism, which is not associated with anti-Semitism (Archick, 2005).

Additionally, Western media are biased against the Middle East, especially the Arabs. The view of the parrot government along with its negative influence over the understanding on the region was highlighted by a conference, which was conducted by Al Jazeera. Thus, a debate with respect to global media focuses largely on the development of bridge for removing divisions. In this context, the western media, mostly that of the US is required to emphasise the freedom of the press as compared to the Arabic media. In addition, it needs to completely renovate its coverage relating to the issues in Arab. Subsequently, Eurocentric or western-centrism media has been criticised by both Arab as well as the western journalists along with academics. In this context, Marc Lynch, a political science professor stated that after the event of 9/11, there were large numbers American, who were observed not to respond to the media of Arab. This was mostly due to the fact that they were told about the Arabic media (Guardian News and Media Limited, 2006).

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Eurocentric Biases against the Middle East 

There is a significant difference on the world perspective between the Americans and Arabs and thus requires a real dialogue. Additionally, the Americans also have to listen to the media of the Arabs and vice-versa. This indicates that Americans are required significantly on the Arabian media. Therefore, making a counter-argument on the western media, Arab needs to have its own media house. Thus, it was observed that there is a significant need to have high self-examination within the Middle East (Guardian News and Media Limited, 2006). Contextually, the coverage relating to Israel –Palestine by the Guardian was observed to be biased. This was supported by the journalists of both the states, especially the pro-Israel (Elliott, 2016). The reports presented by Edward Said with the support of his scholarly work on the Muslim as well as the Arab or the Middle Eastern countries indicated that western media are biased. Thus, it was highlighted that the western media is shaped on the basis of cultural biases along with the political motives. For instance, it was pertinent in the coverage of protests relating to a film based on disdaining Prophet Muhammad (The Middle East Monitor, 2014).

Additionally, it was observed that the western media was significantly fixated on the overall protests, which contributed towards senseless violence. Furthermore, it was also observed that the reaction of a Presidential candidate relating to the protests in Egypt and Libya was mostly to reprimand the Obama administration. This was to blame the overall violent breakout in the field ambassadors for criticising movie along with not standing for the American value. At the same time, it was observed that the western media along with the same candidate ignored over 30,000 Libyan individuals, who were protesting against the US Consulate attacks. It was however inferred that the western media focused less on the Libyans protesting against the alleged killer the US’s staff and diplomat. Cultural bias within reporting has also been evident in terms of prevailing in the media outlets of the US. For instance, NBC News has been observed to make a report stating that “three US soldiers” and “several Afghanis” had been killed during suicide attack event in Afghanistan. However, the viewers were not informed that there were 11 Afghanis, who were killed in the event, which included six civilians along with four police officers and an interpreter (The Middle East Monitor, 2014).

Hence, it indicates that this particular pattern with respect to news reporting focuses on exemplifying cultural bias, where American and Israeli life matters more in comparison to others. Thus, it can be stated that Americans along with Israeli are regarded as real people while the others are perceived as a collateral damage (The Middle East Monitor, 2014).

Different Media Systems in the Middle East

Comparison of the media systems beyond the Eurocentric world focuses on offering in-depth exploration of the overall conceptual foundation for comparing politics and media at a global level (Hallin & Mancini, 2014). In this context, it can be stated that the media system in the Middle East is of two types based on the above findings, which includes Authoritarian and Revolutionary media system.

Authoritarian Media System

Authoritarian media system is largely controlled by the government including the content to be published on air (University of Florida, n.d.). This can be better explained with the support of the authoritarian theory, which states that all types of communication are managed and operated by the elite government authorities and the influential bureaucrats. It has further been observed that this media system is essential for controlling media along with protecting people from being diverted from the actual news. If the media is observed to violate any government policy against its license, the authority has every right to cancel license along with revoking it. The government therefore possess all the rights to restrict sensitive issues for maintaining peace within the nation. In addition, censorship can be referred as the suppression of the communication, which can hence be considered for affecting people, government, or the nation. Censors can thus be of different types including political, moral, religious, and military censor among others (Communication Theory, 2010).

In this context, the region of Middle East has authoritarian media system. For instance, the Saudi Arabian media including newspapers, even though owned privately are found to be highly regulated and subsidised by the government of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the basic law of Saudi Arabia states that the role of the media is to inspire and educate the public (Library of Congress, 2006). Though, in the recent years, it has been observed that the Saudi Arabian Government has permitted to publish articles on critical issues through few selected journalists. However, censorship still today remains one of the leading problems in the Saudi Arabian-media. This is for self-preserving the media outlets of the nation. Furthermore, the government owns as well as operates both television and radio companies all across Saudi Arabia (Library of Congress, 2006). The Saudi Arabian media environment is therefore considered as one of the most repressive in the entire world in 2012. Article 39 of the Basic law does not allow freedom of the press. There are certain provisions relating under the law, which allow the government to prevent any type of sedition (Freedom House, 2013). The Saudi Arabian government also prohibits content, which provides harm along with national security. However, with respect to the use of internet in Saudi Arabia was observed to be 54% in 2012. On a similar note, Saudi Arabia was ranked first with respect to the use of YouTube on daily basis (Freedom House, 2013).

Egypt also has authoritarian media and is often perceived as the nation of contradictions (Hassan-Gordon, 2001). In Egypt, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) has been observed to be working with the Ministry of Information for operating the government-owned radio and television stations. Radio broadcasting is hence considered as a completely operated and controlled government (Allam, 2018). 

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Revolutionary Media System

The traditional idea related to newsrooms is observed to be dead and hence modern news making is perceived to be no longer occurring only in the central location. The local reporters along with the citizen journalists are evident to be connected from wherever they get access to the network. Hence, in this context, social media have been able to connect activities all across the globe (O’Connell, 2015). The media landscape in the Middle East is in this regard found to be continuously changing. Majority of the Middle Eastern nations receive news mostly from national nightly broadcasts and is controlled by the authority. It was hence been observed that prior to the 20th century, media in the Middle East was out. Therefore, in this particular context, Al Jazeera has perceived to change the media environment in Saudi Arabia (Telhami, 2013). It has hence been observed that Al Jazeera does not condemn any aspects relating to Qatari society and the government relating to the amount of its credibility. However, Al Jazeera is observed to pose a significant impact on the overall media landscape in the Middle East (Korany, 2010).

Additionally, the emergence of Al Jazeera has been observed to significantly expand itself in a short span of time. Hence, it has been evident that Al Jazeera comprises large numbers of viewers on a daily basis. The network of Al Jazeera operates on different channels, which includes Al Jazeera Live and Al Jazeera Sports (The Stanley Foundation, 2006). On a similar note, it has been evident that the Arab revolution, which occurred in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, has a major turning point in the Arabian politics. On the other hand, it highlighted the importance of social media along with citizen journalism. This was evident mostly during the Arab Spring, which took place with the nations of the Middle East, which helped in shaping the overall history of the Arab world. This started with the revolution, which occurred in Tunisia. The local media, therefore, was found to be biased towards the authority and in turn tried to prevent the overall truth. This resulted in social as well as political ignorance. In this context, social media played an essential role in socialising, which included Twitter and Facebook (Hassan, 2013).

Middle East countries such as Egypt after the revolution of 2011 was observed to have shifted in the media landscape after 30 years of the President. Therefore, the potential of the digital media, mostly the social media is considered to play a significant role in communicating and socialising (Khamis, 2011). Ever since the breakout of the revolution, the media landscape has changed rapidly. In this regard, private media have focused on connecting with the people. The revolution became internet based, as it was perceived as a catalyst, which helped in facilitating along with organising and expediting the issues. The use of the internet, as well as social media, helped in mobilising the overall movement against the government for suppressing them. Internet activism and the use of social media platform such as Facebook completely shifted the dynamics with respect to online communication. This therefore allowed the citizens to obtain information on the latest happenings and interaction with others (Abdulla, 2014).

The young Egyptian population, who were not engaged politically in the initial phase, also became interested in the social media in the context of activism. This particular group was also observed to be drawn into the political activities mostly through the use of Facebook. Hence, the youth become more active, as they were interacting with the online activists as well as others. Subsequently, it was also evident that the privately owned media companies had changed but the government-owned media enterprises printing newspapers continued to suppress the issue (Abdulla, 2014). The change of government in Tunisia and Libya has eliminated the seemingly untouchable leaders, which also influenced the impacts of the protests in other countries of the Middle East. The role of social media after the event assisted in supporting the change. Therefore, it can be stated that the use of social media by the citizens during the Arab Spring made a major impact on the overall scenario (Al-mamo, 2016). Social media is therefore observed as a key feature relating to the development of Egypt. In comparison with the revolution occurred in Libya and Tunisia took 28 days to remove the leader for his position, while the activities in Egypt for eliminating its President took only 18 days and was even completed in a peaceful manner (Storck, 2011).


Based on the study findings, it can be stated that media plays a significant role in making people aware of the things happening across the nation and even around the globe. In this particular context, it can be inferred that media system in the Middle East is mostly controlled by the government of the states in the region. Thus, it faces authoritarian type of the media system, as the content are only published on air once it is allowed by the government. The news companies such as Al Jazeera focuses on airing videos received from the citizens. On the basis of the overall study findings, it can further be inferred that that Eurocentric media are more biased against the Middle East. Thus, this type of media often focuses on the showing news against the Middle Eastern nations, which further creates a negative influence on its viewers. 

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