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Issue Introduction

Media, with its ubiquity in the digital age and as a purveyor of information, plays a pivotal role in these uncertain times.  Recent events have shown that news outlets can play a political role, at times on behalf of an entire nation. This trend has become increasingly prevalent in the Arab world. Today’s unbalanced media landscape requires more organized initiatives and substantial investment to produce objective and internationally competitive content.

This has never been more urgent—or more evident—than in the wake of successive crises at the local, regional, and international levels, where media can influence the trajectory or consequences of events or play a role in crisis management. However, the role and impact of media has been by and large underplayed.

I remain convinced that the media is a dynamic actor, not just an intermediary source of information, in any crisis situation no matter the form. As we have seen recently, irresponsible speech and inaccurate information can raise tensions between countries, and even result in full fledged war.

It is the responsibility of the media to maintain the fine line between professional conduct stemming from a commitment to social responsibility in times of crisis, and the freedom to report events unobstructed. It is easy to observe that most problems arise from the inability of media institutions to balance these two sides. This failure often leads to a degradation of public confidence in the media, or acceptance of information that may be false or incomplete without critical awareness.

This issue of Arab Media & Society addresses the importance of this theme and the need for in-depth academic analysis and discussion. The articles herein, prepared by researchers from across the globe in both Arabic and English, aim to add to the academic discourse on a diverse array of topics relating to “Media and Crisis.”

About Nabil Fahmy

Ambassador Nabil Fahmy is the founding Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo and former Foreign Minister of Egypt.

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