By Mary Hawkins, The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
PULLMAN – A WSU dean’s expertise about the Middle East is in much demand by media worldwide as civil unrest has agitated Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen recently.
Lawrence Pintak, founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, was director of the Center for Journalism Training and Research at The American University in Cairo and is a former CBS News Middle East correspondent. In an accident of timing, his book, “The New Arab Journalist: Mission and Identity in a Time of Turmoil,” is being published in the U.S. this week.
On Jan. 31, CNN.com published the article, “Arab media revolution spreading change,” in which he credits the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices and social media, coupled with the impact of Arab satellite TV, for the dramatic upsurge in social unrest.
“The upheaval underscores a grim reality for authoritarian regimes the world over: The electronic dam has burst and, with it, their ability to control the flow of information,” Pintak wrote. “There is a direct line between this revolt and the Arab media revolution launched 15 years ago. One might even argue it is the inevitable result. The demand for change has become an electronic virus, seeping into nations through every unblocked pore.”
Recent and upcoming interviews include broadcast appearances on CNN; NPR member stations in New York City, Salt Lake City and Minnesota; Australia’s national broadcaster; and Seattle’s KOMO news radio. Pintak has been interviewed by the Toronto Star newspaper and other print outlets.
A Seattle Times newspaper column last week focused on the need to differentiate between tweets and blogs from the Middle East’s crisis points and journalistic reporting. Other pieces are upcoming in The New Republic, the Laylina Review, the Columbia Journalism Review online and several other websites. Pintak has remained in touch with people on the ground in Egypt, relaying some of his observations via Twitter (@lpintak).
In January, a civil uprising in Tunisia drove its president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, from power after 23 years of strict rule. Soon after, protesters fed by years of grievances took to the streets of Egypt, calling for an end to Hosni Mubarek’s presidency. Mubarek called the military to the streets and, on Jan. 28, ordered his government to resign but has not offered to step down himself. Inspired by these revolts, Yemenis took to the streets Jan. 28 in protest of their government.