Al Jazeera’s Framing of Social Media During the Arab Spring

Author(s) Heidi A. Campbell, Diana Hawk
Contact Heidi A. Campbell, Texas A&M University, MS 4234 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 6, Iss. 1, 2012, pp. 34-51
Published May 10, 2012
Type Article
Abstract This study investigates how Al Jazeera framed social media in relation to the revolutions and protests of the “Arab Spring” within its broadcast media coverage. A content analysis of Arabic language broadcasts appearing from January 25th through February 18th 2011, covering the protests in Tahrir Square, was conducted using the Broadcast Monitoring System (BMS) and Arab Spring Archive. Through this analysis we see a number of common narratives being used by Al Jazeera to frame social media and make claims about the influence they had on the protests and related social movements. By noting the frequency of social communications technologies referenced, ways in which these technologies were characterized and interpreting supporting themes with which they were identified helps illuminate the assumptions promoted by Al Jazeera regarding the role and impact of social communications technology on these events.
Keywords information and communication technology, democracy, social media, internet, Arab Spring, public sphere, Egypt, activism, satellite TV