What al-Jazeera Shows and Doesn’t Show


The wide-angle aerial view from television cameras trained down on Tahrir Square in central Cairo is unprecedented in the history of world revolutions. We all have a ring-side seat. The satellite feed has become part of the story; the video frame is itself a site of contestation. We have seen moving pictures of Germans mounting the Berlin Wall, shots of Saddam Hussein’s statue being toppled, cell-phone images of upheaval in Iran in 2009, glimpses of recent events in Tunisia, and the occasional view of simultaneous street protests in Yemen’s Tahrir Square. But never before have foreign television crews perched on balconies of high-rise buildings overlooking the center of the action given the world continuous real-time panopticon images of such momentous upheaval.

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Copyright © February 4, 2011 The/Slate Group, LLC. This article first appeared in Foreign Policy (2011), 1.