The Egyptian revolution: Exposing the weaknesses of media punditry

Egyptian flagThe protesting masses in Egypt exposed another worldwide problem: the 24-7 idiocy of instant punditry.

You’d think an exposé showcasing problems with self-proclaimed “experts” would create a more skeptical media. But some outlets, desperate for instantaneous analysis, lured commentators to the airwaves who offered little more than uninformed opinions about what was happening in Egypt.

While MSNBC and CNN flailed about, Al Jazeera English proved itself a credible news medium, providing on-the-ground coverage in the early days like few other outlets.

Long-form journalism also offered nuance and subtlety. The New York Times chronicled the changes in an ever-expanding photo gallery. The Christian Science Monitor, known for its stable of correspondents and writers abroad, revealed the violence some faced while covering the clashes — through the eyes of its own journalists.

For deep analysis, Terry Gross, host of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” regularly finds authors and researchers who truly know and understand their topics. As the Egyptian crowds grew, Gross interviewed two authors who offered some of the most insightful analysis of what was happening:

  • Thanassis Cambanis, a longtime Middle East correspondent and author of A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel, who walked listeners through the history  leading up to the Egyptian revolution.
  • Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, who explained the roots of the Muslim Brotherhood, an activist group banned (but active) in Egypt.

The explosion of news sources gives us a wealth of information at our fingertips. But it’s up to us to find the gold among the pennies.


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