The revolution will be televised

The avalanche of words spent on the role of the Internet and social networking media in the revolutions sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa should not obscure that old-fashioned, impartial news reporters for the MSM (and its freelancers) are the ones getting the story out to the rest of the world - at great personal risk.The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has been chronicling the assaults on journalists. In the New York Times, metro columnist and former Middle East correspondent Clyde Haberman summed it up this way:

Across the Middle East and North Africa, millions have taken to the streets to demand an end to the despotism that has defined the region since pretty much forever. Journalists have been in the thick of it, often in ways that go beyond their familiar roles as observers and chroniclers. They are part of the story themselves.

In Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, Yemen, Algeria pick a place they have been beaten, jailed, harassed and otherwise prevented from gathering information essential to the rest of us, we who are not about to wander into the cauldron ourselves.

For all the tweets and Facebook pages in the world, there is still no substitute for having impartial journalists on the scene to tell us, as best as they can, what is going on. That notion is often considered quaint - even here on dotCommonweal at times. Many scoff at the idea that journalists can be impartial. But the journalists who are reporting to us on the revolution of '11 deserve our appreciation and prayers.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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