WSU journalism dean has perfect timing with book on Arab media revolution

Feb 4, 2011

The Dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University is all smiles this week. His book, The New Arab Journalist is coming out at the same time as the mass protests going on in Egypt. You couldn't ask for better timing.

Lawrence Pintak is a former Mid-East correspondent for CBS news, and also taught journalism at the American University in Cairo. He's based in Pullman now, but stays in touch with contacts he's made covering the Arab world since 1980. 

His new book chronicles what he calls an Arab media revolution that dates back to the founding fifteen years ago of Al Jazeera, the first largely independent satellite TV channel. "And you can draw a direct line between that revolution and what's happening on the streets of Cairo today," Pintak says.

Arabs no are no longer dependent on government television stations to get their news.  They can sit in their homes and watch the protests, taking place live in the streets outside. 

"That inspires the Egyptians, that inspires Arabs across the region, and certainly we saw the Tunisians revolution a couple of weeks ago.  And what is happening in Egypt is a direct result of them having watched that on television."

He says in this way, the uprising going right now in the mid-East is a lot like the fall of the iron curtain in eastern Europe in 1989, when the allied forces beamed images of the West into the Soviet bloc.  The difference now is that information and images are also coming from inside.  And they're moving much faster, via text messaging and the Internet.