It has been argued that the Egyptian protests and associated Arab Spring uprisings, which spread throughout the Arab world in 2011, garnered the interest and attention of a worldwide audience largely due to digital and social media. The spread of information, via online media, was said to link protesters to a wider public. This coupled with the international press's attention made these regional events a global matter. Online and mass media coverage of events, such as the mid-January to February protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square where people gathered with the aim of bringing down the reign of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, provided both professional and citizen journalist reports offering many different narratives of these events. While observers have argued over the past year of the importance social media played in the protests, scholars are still trying to unpack exactly what impact social media had and continues to have on revolutions in the region. Also, it is clear that the stories about the Arab Spring and the role played by social media differ depending on if they are told by social, governmental or different media institutions. However, little concrete evidence exists as to what stories were told by whom, and how specific institutions, truly perceived and framed social media in relation to these events. While scholars are beginning to unpack the range of stories that news outlets told about the Arab Spring, the question remains, "what story did the media tell about social media in relation to the Arab Spring?"

This article seeks to investigate the story told by one news source, Al Jazeera's Arabic language news broadcast (henceforth "Al Jazeera"), the perceived role social media played in the Arab Spring according to this news organization and how it interpreted its impact on events in Egypt and ultimately the wider region. Al Jazeera functions as an independent satellite news network owned by the state of Qatar, which seeks to offer dedicated coverage of stories and issues of importance and interest to the Arab World.  They played an important role in covering events, providing focused news commentary related to the Egyptian Protests and events later termed as the Arab Spring throughout 2011. This coverage is in line with an identity they have promoted which frequently seeks to, "question authority and challenges the common political discourse" within the region (Zayani 2005:2). Here we focus on coverage presented on the Al Jazeera 24-hour Arabic news channel and their portrayal and presentation of social media in relation to coverage of the Tahrir Square protests from January 25th through February 18th 2011. The dates cover the start of the protests and go one week past the public announcement of the resignation of President Mubarak. It has been argued that Al Jazeera played a defining role in galvanizing and promoting the Egyptian protests, as well as praising the role played by social media in these efforts (Mills 2011). It is the aim of this study to uncover how they actually framed and discussed these technologies in these reports in order to learn the narratives about social media and the Arab Spring promoted in their news discourses.

This analysis was conducted through the aid of the Broadcast Monitoring System, a system that creates a transcript and archive of broadcasts from select international news channel using machine translation1. The analysis presented here outlines mediums of social communications that were described by Al Jazeera during this period, as well as the narratives this news organization generated about social media and its relationship to the revolutions and protests of the Arab Spring.


Data Collection via the BMS System

This study could not have been done without access to the Broadcast Monitoring System (BMS) and the Arab Spring Archive hosted at Texas A&M University. The BMS is a searchable archive of international television broadcasts. The system takes in satellite broadcast feeds in Arabic, Chinese and Spanish from six stations (Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, CCTV4, Phoenix InfoNews, TelSUR and Univision), automatically transcribes the streams of news broadcasts in the native script, and translates the transcripts into English. The transcripts and translations remain in sync with the broadcast when stored in the BMS. The video, transcription, and translation into English can be searched with text strings and are stored for one year on the system. Developed by Raytheon BBN for the intelligence community, with the support of people at Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), the aim of the system was to help analysts sift through vast collections of news content in other languages quickly and efficiently. It is now being developed as a language and media studies teaching and research tool. Texas A&M University is currently the only higher education institution hosting access to a BMS.

The transcription and archiving features of the BMS system make it a rich and vital resource. Many of the news channels on the system, such as Al Jazeera, do not maintain their own archives of broadcasts, making it one of the only resources in the world for collecting and researching such content. It also makes it possible for non-language speakers of Arabic to study Al Jazeera news coverage. There are, however, challenges in working with the system transcripts due to some inaccuracies in the Arabic-to-English machine translation of some concepts, words and logic ordering of the sentences. Some of these research challenges are discussed below in the method and sample sub-section. Yet even with these limitations it provides the ability to conduct basic discourse and narrative analysis of news content not previously possible to non-native language speakers. Also, the system is upgraded on a regular basis so newer versions of transcription software are incorporated as they come available. Thus the system's Arabic-to-English translation is continuously refined over time.

Because of the possibilities offered by the BMS system and the perceived importance of the events surrounding the Arab Spring in December 2011, the Arab Spring Archive was established. This separate archive contains Arabic and English transcriptions and broadcast recordings of all news coverage on Al Jazeera from December 12, 2010 onwards, as well as content from the other five BMS news channels (such as Al Arabiya which was added to the BMS system in July 2011). The aim of the Arab Spring Archive was to capture and store all BMS content related to the Arab Spring events, as these and related events continues to have a lasting  impact upon the region and be of continued interest to international scholars.

Method and Sample

Using the BMS, a search was done for all news clips appearing on the Al Jazeera channel from January 25th through February 18th, the time frame of the noted Tahrir Square protests related to social media. A search was made for references to specific social media (i.e., Facebook and Twitter), the Internet and several related terms including social communication, social media and social networks/networking. As mentioned above the BMS system is not entirely perfect with its Arabic to English translations, so initial attempts to search for some key terms such as Facebook and Twitter were unsuccessful. It was through experimentation and careful observation it was learned that "social communication" was a more common phrase used by Al Jazeera than "social media" to describe the network and online technologies used by protest organizers. Also, due to the fact that words in English were treated as Arabic words in the transcription process they appeared as derivative words (e.g., Facebook appeared as Weiss Bok, Alves Bok, Elvis Bok and many other variations of Bok). Thus it required some time on the system to learn these trends in order to do a basic subject/word analysis. By doing a keyword search, for terms noted above twenty-five news clips were collected.

From this sample, the frequency of different terms and themes related to claims made about social communication were enumerated. While specific details are discussed below, it is important to note here that due to the fact that the term "social communication" (n=8) was used at a higher frequency than "social media" (n=2) to describe these online mediums. Hence this phrase--social communication--will be used from here on out when discussing Al Jazeera's framing and portrayal of social media. Thus this sample of clips was used as a microcosm to investigate Al Jazeera's general response to and framing of social communication.

Categories of Analysis

The data set was analyzed under three categories. First, the frequency of social communication terms listed above (Facebook, Internet, social media, social communications, and social networks) was enumerated and common narratives about these terms were identified. Second, a discourse analysis of the clip transcripts was conducted to identify the common ways social communication was framed in Al Jazeera news coverage to identify the ways in which social communication was characterized by Al Jazeera and the actions or motivations they were associated with in regards to the protests. Through this process, three common characterizations were identified.  Social communication was portrayed as (a) an initiator or cause of the protests, (b) a resource for social networking spreading protests, and (c) a tool for social empowerment for users. Finally, common news topics which social communications were associated with were identified. Three themes stood out: (a) social communication and youth, (b) social communication and violence and (c) social communication and spread of information in the Arab World. The specific findings of these three categories are presented below.


The content analysis of a selection of Al Jazeera news stories, focused around Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square that eventually led to the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, explores the data in light of three categories. They are the coverage of social communication in news reports, the framing of social communication and the narratives associated with social communication coverage.

Category 1: Coverage of Social Communication in News Reports

In the news stories surrounding the Tahrir Square protests of January and February 2011, the most common term used by Al Jazeera in their broadcasts related to social communications was "Internet" (n=31 mentions in 16 clips). It is described as a tool and site for communication between people involved in the protests. For example, a story airing 27 Jan 2011 at 16:24 states "...the Internet sites communication and social networks play a significant role in the need for people to participate in movements"2. Throughout these references the Internet is presented as a neutral technology leveraged by different groups for strategic purposes such as the "Internet a prominent role in the revolution of the People in Egypt was a tool for coordination" (10 Feb 2011 13:43:46).  This clip also highlights a sub-theme found amongst about a quarter of these references, that is the linking to the Internet the notion of revolution or suggesting that the protests could be described as an "Internet revolution" (n=7 mentions in 5 clips). This Internet revolution highlights the use of the Internet for connecting people and drawing wide-spread attention to the protest. One story reported that the Internet revolution aids the spread of protest which seek to address social ills: "Movement started protests in Egypt at the invitation to Syria via the Internet revolution days on corruption and poverty, torture, a call which received a response from the parties to non-politicized by the Egyptian society." (28 Jan 2011 01:03:14).

Facebook was the second most common social communication reference by Al Jazeera (n=17 mentions in 15 clips). In 10 of these mentions, Al Jazeera highlighted that Facebook was specifically being used by protesters in Egypt as a means of communication with others about their cause, such as raising public awareness of human rights violation and the torture of prisoners (e.g., 18 Feb 2011 05:50:08). It was also noted that Facebook was not only a source for organizing protests in Tahrir Square, but a site itself in which the protest against Mubarak must be voiced and raised: "The battle in Egypt fought on the pages of Elvis Bok [Facebook]" (05 Feb 2011 05:54:18). Reports also mentioned that Facebook users in Egypt networked with friends in other countries to spread news of their activities and encourage other to join in, such as reporting that the February 7th protests in Libya were spurred on by Egyptian youth via Facebook (07 Feb 2011 07:36:15). It is also important to note that in over a third of the mentions, Facebook (6 of 17) was specifically connected with discussions of the role that young people played in the Egyptian protests. This point is discussed in more detail under category three. Overall, Facebook is presented as a tool which brings with it action and social change.

A number of general terms were also referenced in the data set including social communication (n=7 mentions in 7 clips), social networks (n=3 mentions in 2 clips) and social media (n=2 mentions in 2 clips). Social communication was used to describe the kinds of interactions taking place on the Internet, Facebook or social networks. It was also used to highlight the unique nature and potential of these new mediums, e.g., "proactive waging a war is in the language of traditional media a new ... warning of the use of the sites of social communication" (16 Feb 2011 14:16:27). Social communication seemed to also suggest the interconnectedness and interpersonal nature of new media, e.g., "This comes in the wake of the appeal made by the Movement of the youth of 20 February to a network of social communication ... to get out in peaceful demonstrations for change". Here we also see the referencing of social networks as connections created through these new media tools.

A number of other social communications terms were given single mentions in various stories including "websites" and "world wide web", but due to this infrequency they were not given special consideration here. It is important to note that while, Twitter was mentioned twice verbally by Al Jazeera reporters in two broadcast clips, for some reason this was not picked up by the machine translation. However, due to the small numbers we see the terms social network and social media, Twitter play a less noteworthy role in the sample.

Overall these different references present social communications as a tool, a site, resource and channel for protestor's communication and connection with others. Interesting claims also can be inferred or in some cases directly made about the impact, these seemingly simple actions, facilitated by social communications, had on the Tahrir Square protests. These are analyzed in more detail in the following category.

Category 2: Framing of Social Communication

In category two, we identify how Al Jazeera characterized the social communications described above in their coverage of protests related to Tahrir Square. Attention was paid to the frames or assumptions that shaped news report's descriptions of these technologies and what specific outcomes or actions they were associated with. Careful reading of news story transcripts identified three themes related to how social communications were framed as the initiator of the protests, a resource for networking amongst protesters and a tool of empowerment for people to create social change.

First, social communications were presented as an initiator or instigator of the Tahrir Square uprising and the Arab Spring in general. This was the most dominant of the three themes (noted in 13 of the 25 news stories). Here Al Jazeera used language to suggest that social communications were used not only to facilitate protests, but were also in some way responsible for the demonstrations and political revolutions. The language in the clips showed that social communications were often framed as an instigator or initiator, of the protests. The social communications website, Twitter, was never mentioned at all, while Facebook was mentioned frequently, as well as the term "Internet". For example, a report on February 10th stated that millions of editorials and comments written on Facebook pages dedicated to the Tahrir Square demonstrations had "become an integral part of the mobility of young people" (10 Feb 2011 13:43:46). In the same report, Al Jazeera reported 3 million Egyptian Facebook subscribers had changed their profile pictures to images of slogans in support of the demonstrators or advocating their rights to protest. Social communications were framed as sites for sharing pictures and descriptions of what was really going on amongst "the people" in Egypt, and thus created a platform where people could demand Mubarak to step down, while other public or media forums were unavailable to them. By hosting these images, slogans, and citizen journalist video clips of the demonstrations, Al Jazeera seemed to argue that social communications, "linked to the revolution" provided vital fuel, enabling the movement to accomplish its goals. As one report noted, "the girls spoke about the role played by social communication networks such as Weiss Bok [Facebook] in the Organization of the revolution and achieving its objectives" (17 Feb 2011 07: 28:12). Thus social communications were framed as an integral part of the protest activities and outcomes.

Next, Al Jazeera presented social communications as a resource for social networking which led to the spread of protester's vision and activities throughout the region. Here social communications were described in terms that emphasized that it offered users a resource for connecting and networking the people involved in or supporting the protests (n=7). This is exemplified by a story appearing on January 27th which stated that "in Egypt and Tunisia face bok [Facebook] invited to the needs in the street through the Internet sites, communication and social networks play a significant role in the need for people to participate in movements" (27 Jan 2011 16:24:28). Here social communications (e.g., Facebook and web sites) were noted for both drawing attention to protest activities and encouraging people to participate in similar revolutions beyond Egypt. Al Jazeera further emphasized that the use of these mediums was wide spread, especially amongst key groups involved in various sectors of the protest. They stated such use "proved effective in political communication at least among young people have been able to speed up the winds of change in Tunisia has become green until the Arab peoples" (27 Jan 2011 16:24:28). Framing social communications as a networking device highlighted the technological affordances such mediums offer users, and consequently the potential to connect provided users with an ability to create common public through the sharing of images, videos, and stories online.

Finally, social communications were presented as a tool for social empowerment for its users (n=6). This social empowerment came in the form of support, encouragement and advice shared between people through social communications, with the aim of these interactions motivating each other to rise up and take action. Al Jazeera highlighted that social communications offered users social and interpersonal benefits not available to them through other contexts of mediums. For instance, an Al Jazeera report on February 6th stated that the Internet was being used by youth in both Tunisia and Egypt to coordinate demonstrations and generate support amongst the groups. Tunisian university students were described as "exchanging advice and experience with their brothers in Egypt" and the Internet as a "virtual operations rooms" where Egyptian youth were able to generate a "single voice" that "echoed by hundreds of Tunisian youth in a solidarity gathering" (6 Feb 2011 11:31:34). This emphasized that the Internet served as an important medium, where protester gained support for their activities, affirmation of their cause and a place to be inspired by other stories of the revolution. Social communications was framed as a forum enabling protesters to take the revolution beyond the street to the Arab world and beyond, as "the battle in Egypt fought on the pages of Elvis Bok [Facebook]" (5 Feb 2011 05:54:18) and leverage its affordances to "lead the revolution of the Internet" (05 Feb 2011 09:47:47). Al Jazeera seems to stress that these mediums provide the youth especially with a vital forum for creating alliances and sharing a common vision that are shaping worldwide perception of the movement.

Overall, we see that stories from this sample illustrate that Al Jazeera used three noteworthy frames in their discussion of social communications. They highlight the ability of social communications to serve as a prime mover or even cause for the spread of the revolution to extend protester's abilities of gathering and disseminating information regarding their activities and creating a space ground for building camaraderie and a common vision amongst people.

Category 3: Narratives Associated with Social Communication

Finally, three notable themes were associated with Al Jazeera's discussion of social communications in stories told related to the Tahrir Square protests; these included making connecting discussions of social communications to the themes of youth, violence and the regional nature or spread of the conflict. First, over half of the news stories in the sample (n=15 of 25) made explicit connections between social communication and youth. Specifically many of these reports noted the role played by youth in the protests and how the Internet helps fuel and facilitates their involvement. Examples included phrases referencing the perceived solidarity amongst youth in relation to the revolutions/protests due to their use of various social communications technologies. The Internet was highlighted as a not only a helpmate enabling social networking, but as their friend and compatriot in the protests, e.g., "the friend of young people today is the Internet" (27 Jan 2011 16:24:28). It was also noted as a first port of call for many young people involved in protest activities providing them with a platform to draw global attention to their cause, "these young people who sat on the Internet holds talks with the youth of the world" (08 Feb 2011 19:33:09) and use the web to birth their dreams for change in their countries, e.g., "young people have been able to speed up the winds of change in Tunisia" (27 Jan 2011 16:24:28). By framing the Internet as a young people's medium and one integral to the work of young protesters also presented social communications as a new social sphere where they were able to reimagine the future of their respective countries. As stated in a February 13th report, revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia were described as result of online interaction "of how those young people to a new culture were exchanging through the Internet had led to these people's image" (13 Feb 2011 16:41:21). Thus an overarching theme in these stories was that the Internet was not only used by youth to spur on protests, but they framed the protests as simultaneously a revolution of the youth and of the Internet. The social networking capabilities of the Internet thus extended the young people's energies and vision, allowing them to shape the activities and nature of the protests happening in the streets from online.

Second, Al Jazeera associated discussions of social communications with both the news about violence and violent outcomes of the protests (n=9). Al Jazeera highlighted how Egyptians would post pictures, videos, and information from the protests via Facebook, to bring attention to brutalities by police and physical threats being faced by protesters. For example, one reporter noted the harsh conditions faced by young protesters on February 5th, "in the field of liberalization ... during the next few days will lead the revolution of the Internet,  horrible scenes the completion of the system of human rights to face the system" (05 Feb 2011 09:47:47). Al Jazeera also noted that it was not the sharing of online images that instigated the violence, rather this sharing was a strategy used by protesters to raise public awareness of how their demonstrations were perceived and received by their respective governments; for example, one report on Libyan protests noted "what appeared a call on the Internet to demonstrate peacefully in Libya on Thursday against corruption and poverty also says the owners of the Initiative" (16 Feb 2011 08:02:23). Here news about violence was connected to discussion of how social communication networks assisted in the circulations of images and information about violence associated with the protest in Tahrir Square and beyond.

Third, and finally, mentions of social communication were also associated with stories focused on the spread of information about the protests of Tahrir Square outside of Egypt and the impact this had on the Arab World. Al Jazeera suggested that social communication expedited the spreading of the protests/revolution from one country to another which resulted in a transnational and regional impact. Phrases that described social communications as the conduit for spreading information and protests from one country to another (n=5) and to the Arab World in general (n=6) were identified. For instance, a February 10th broadcast asserted that the discussion of the Egyptian revolution online helped accelerate and "generated from fired [Facebook] pages invites uprisings in Iraq, Algeria, Yemen and other States" (10 Feb 2011 13:43:46). Emphasis was placed in these reports on that peoples use social communications to call for activism and support of protests in their own context, e.g., noting how coverage on Facebook of Egyptian and Tunisian demonstrations was used to "calls for the youth of Iraq to get out in a demonstration twenty-fifth of this month in Baghdad" (12 Feb 2011 11:47:53). Connections made by Al Jazeera between social communications to stories of the spread of protest throughout the Arab world seemed to emphasize how channels of communication facilitated by these mediums led to both greater awareness and actions throughout the region.  For example, this is emphasized in a February 7th report stating, "we read in Al-Quds Al Arabi newspaper about the features of the uprising of electronic appearing on the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is being influenced by what happened in Tunisia in Egypt Libyan (sic) opposers abroad" (07 Feb 2011 07:36:15). Here the dissemination of information about protest via social communications suggests actions have encouraged social connection and investment between people of different Arab nations due to their Internet interactions.

From this review we note Al Jazeera associated its discussion of social communications with stories on youth, violence and the regional spread of protests. Underlying their claims about these connections included the argument that the Tahrir Square protests were an Internet and youth driven revolution, and that the use of social media to share stories and images about the violent outcomes of the protests helped raise regional and global awareness as well as be linked to the outgrowth of demonstrations in other countries.

Discussion of Findings

Overall we see several consistent claims regarding the role and perception of social communications being promoted within Al Jazeera coverage of the Tahrir Square protests and events of 25 January to 18 February 2011. First, social communications technology in general is presented in a positive light. Though this is never explicitly stated, we see that the Internet and Facebook and the role they play in the protests is never critiqued or framed as problematic.  Second, social communications mediums are represented as tools, spaces and agents facilitating social and political change within Egypt and the Arab world, especially within the hands of young people. Third, discussions of events related to Tahrir Square are connected with the idea that the demonstrations were not only made possible by the use of social communication, but represented the advent of an Internet revolution. More than being a simple technological resource, the Internet was represented as an instigator allowing users to set the agenda and expanding the boundaries of the protests and its coverage. Thus Al Jazeera's coverage could be read as a narrative which argues that the Internet played a prominent role in the spreading of certain stories about the protests, empowering certain actors-namely young people-and benefiting the mobility and spread of the protest movements. These claims seem to echo claims that Al Jazeera promotes of an ideology of Arab nationalism and solidarity, as their coverage seemed to encourage the spread of information and sharing of support social communication amongst people across the Arab world (Oifi 2005:72).

These findings also potentially point to the role Al Jazeera played in shaping public perceptions of the Arab Spring and the role played by social media in these movements. Al Jazeera has often been quick to stress that it simply allows those who have traditionally not had a voice in the Middle East to be heard, and not to promote any particular agenda. However, data from this study shows that Al Jazeera's framing of social media in this instance is one that attributes much of the influence in the Arab Spring movements to the Internet. The narrative ascribed to social media by Al Jazeera seems to closely mirror a dominant Arab identity narrative scholars identify with the network, one that seeks to cultivate "a sense of common destiny in the Arab world and is even encouraging Arab unity so much so that pan-Arabism is being reinvented" (Zayani 2005:8). While it is not possible to make hard and fast claims from a limited data sample, it is clear that their presentation here of social media as a positive tool creating a cross-regional collaborative platform for communication amongst people in the Arab world supports the claims that Al Jazeera broadcasts endorse a certain ideological view of the region. Thus wider exploration of the extent to which these claims are made and supported in Al Jazeera's general coverage of Arab Spring may be a fruitful area of further inquiry, helping unpack what specific ideological narratives their news coverage promotes about the region and their role in framing media perceptions.

It also is interesting that while social media is highlighted in a number of reports around the Tahrir Square protests, it is somewhat surprising that it was not discussed more during this period, especially given the prominence and attribution that social media was given as prime mover of the Arab Spring within US press coverage. This indicates a need for more detailed analysis of both Al Jazeera coverage on this issue, as one of the most influential broadcast outlets in the Arab region, as well as press coverage of social media and the Arab Spring in other international media contexts to access and compare the role it was perceived play in these events.


Much emphasis has been placed on the roles social media and networks played in the Arab Spring revolution, and the impact of these technologies on both protesters and media audiences. This content analysis study has sought to provide a more detailed analysis and identification of the stories told about social media by Al Jazeera, to identify the specific narratives used to promote and frame the positive role social media played in these events. Overall, the purpose of this study has been to better understand how social communications was framed during a certain snapshot of the Arab Spring. This was done in order to better understand which narratives and claims were used by Al Jazeera to help promote the role played by social communications and discover how these framing were connected to the perceived outcomes of the protest movements in news coverage around the early Tahrir Square uprisings. What this study does well is reveal concrete examples of the narratives, employed by Al Jazeera in their coverage during this time period, to provide insights into the perceived the role and connection of social media to protest activities.

This study however does not provide a full explanation of how social media were used in the Arab Spring and how the affordances of these technologies impacted different actors.  It is important to note that it was not only mass media coverage, but a variety of grassroots communication and social activism formats which empowered protesters and thus shaped international public opinion about the outcomes of the Arab Spring. This means studies of social media must not only consider the affordances offered, but their inherent limitations which may in some case equally impacted public perceptions and the story told about the Arab Spring. As Youmans and York argue (2012) many social media platforms actually limited the activities of protester due to architecture and legal infrastructure, limiting communication of certain message and forcing dissents to work outside formal media structures in some cases to get their message out. This mean, highlighting only the stories told about Tahrir Square and the Arab uprisings in relation to social media provide an incomplete representation. Therefore this study provides just one part of a larger picture about the role social and mass media played in facilitating and representing activities related to the Arab Spring.

There are other limits to this study, which should be noted. We are cautious about the claims which can be made from a content analysis study of a specific event and how they can be applied to the assessment of a larger media story such as the Arab Spring which entails multiple media events. Thus this study would benefit from further detailed and comparative work as to the extent to which the narratives and frames highlighted here are consistent across other key stories within Al Jazeera's coverage of the Arab Spring throughout 2011. For instance, exploring in detail whether the framing youth as the prime users of social media and the main tool used by them for facilitating the social networking and information exchange occurring amongst protesters is a story in need of more detailed exploration, to see if such claims hold true and consistent within Al Jazeera's coverage over time in relation to Egypt and other Arab nations. We also acknowledge there are challenges when dealing with what could be perceived as secondary sources in the form of machine-translations of news content and non-native speakers doing such content analysis, as some nuances to news stories could be missed due to the process employed.  We further recognize the need for more work to be done to distinguish how, the timing of specific news reports, the program slots in which a news story appeared and the specificity of the stories location or it being covered by certain reporters may have influenced the narratives or frames used in different stories. Yet even with these limitations, we argue this content analysis study provides an interesting and important insight into Al Jazeera's framing and interpretive process regarding the Arab Spring and highlights how broadcast media coverage may have played a role in shaping public understanding of the influence of social communications on the Arab Spring.


Zayani, Mohamed 2005. Introduction - Al Jazeera and the Vicissitudes of the New Arab Mediascape. In The Al Jazeera Phenomenon: Critical Perspectives on New Arab Media. Mohamed Zayani, ed. Pp. 1-12. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Mills, Hugh 2011. The Al Jazeera Effect: The Inside Story of Egypt's TV wars and how Saudi Arabia could be next. Foreign Policy, February 8., accessed August 14, 2012.

El Oifi, Mohamed 2005. Influence without Power: Al Jazeera and the Arab Public Sphere. In The Al Jazeera Phenomenon: Critical Perspectives on New Arab Media. Mohamed Zayani, ed. Pp. 66-79. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Youmans, William Lafi and Jillian C. York 2012. Social Media and the Activist Toolkit: User Agreements, Corporate Interests, and the Information Infrastructure of Modern Social Movements. Journal of Communication 62:315-329.


1 The Broadcast Monitoring System is part of the Media Monitoring System (MMS) found at:

2 All quotes taken from stories archived in the Arab Spring-Global Media Archive 2012, available at: