Manipulating the media

Four years ago, when Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office by a ‘Facebook revolution’, it seemed social media spelt the end of authoritarian governments. Such cyber-utopianism is now treated with scepticism. In our cover story we look at the mechanisms – some bullying, some more subtle – which governments use to maintain control of the media in the chaos of the digital age.

The World Today Published 1 August 2015 Updated 1 October 2020 1 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

As Vincent Ni reports, the Chinese media landscape is filled with contradictions. Hard-hitting digital platforms responsible for juicy scoops on top-level corruption are on closer inspection still obedient to the communist party’s line. But for how much longer, he asks.

Russia imposes few formal barriers on internet access, yet as Keir Giles points out, the Kremlin is remarkably successful in controlling the media narrative where it matters – on Ukraine and the American ‘threat’. Nikolay Kozhanov shows how examples from the war-torn Middle East are used to reinforce Putin’s line that Russia needs stability at the top.

We look at the war in Yemen which grinds on, with little coverage. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in leading the Gulf states’ military intervention there, is sending a message to Washington, Peter Salisbury reports. Iona Craig, fresh from the devastated city of Aden, looks at the forces pulling Yemen apart.

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