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The Arab Spring: Beyond media effects

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We put primary and secondary data associated with members of the Arab League into a regression model to derive what we call the ‘Arab Spring Equation’. This formula indicates that international news coverage during the upheaval constituted a reliable index of protest intensity, a criterion consistent with the predictive power of sociopolitical and socio-economic indicators, but not indicators of communication technologies. Variables considered in the analysis included level of democratic development; level of corruption; degree of press freedom; rate of unemployment; rate of population growth; per capita gross domestic product (GDP); percentage of population living in poverty; rate of inflation; literacy rate; number of Internet users; number of mobile phone users; Internet penetration rate; military expenditure as percentage of GDP; and type of political rule. Results point to explanations related to the role of media in the Arab Spring beyond those attributed to the advent of communication technologies.
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Keywords: Arab Spring; MENA; Middle East and North Africa region; content analysis; media effects; regression model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Bridgeport 2: Indiana University

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • The emergence of satellite TV, the internet and digital technology have dramatically changed the way audiences receive information and interact with the media. The sudden success of Al-Jazeera and other Arab broadcasters have altered the way the Arab world narrates itself and reports news from the region to the rest of the world. The journal aims to lead the debate about these emerging rapid changes in media and society in Arab and Muslim parts of the world.
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