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Lebanon: Media’s 'Retreat' from Covering the Movement Angers Activists 

Lebanon: Media’s 'Retreat' from Covering the Movement Angers Activists 

Tuesday, 14 January, 2020 - 13:00
Demonstrators carry national flags during an anti-government protest in Tripoli, Lebanon October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim
Beirut - Paul Astih

Many of the Lebanese popular movement activists expressed their displeasure with the media’s “retreat” over the past few weeks after they had played a critical role in the first period after the revolt erupted on the 17th of October.   


While some link this retreat to the loss of some of the movement’s momentum because of the holidays and the bad weather, others believe that the power retained their grip over media.  

Lucian Bourjeili, an activist, believes: "With the beginning of the new year, TV stations started hosting the rulers who bankrupted the country again, in an attempt to whitewash their image. This reminds me of what happened in the last parliamentary elections when politicians used their money to monopolize screen time and make false promises."


Walid Abboud, the editor in chief of MTV, refuses the accusation that media coverage retreated, emphasizing that, at least not in the media institutions which he works for which, according to Abboud “is still covering the events that lost their momentum due to several factors, including the weather, the holidays and other reasons."

"We are not in the position of creating or igniting events but in the position of covering them when they happen,” he added.

Abboud goes on to tell Asharq Al-Awsat: “Live coverage compels, to a certain extent, more people to join the revolutions by showing them the revolution’s beautiful and expressive scenes”.

Abboud believes that it is likely that the momentum will return in the next few days, emphasizing that the TV channel which he works for will: "Cover the events with the same enthusiasm as before, despite deductions to our long-overdue salaries because of the economic and financial crisis that is hurting institutions across the country." 


A study issued by the Maharat (Talents) Foundation on “freedom of expression and the media during the October 17 revolution” said that freedom of expression “reached a degree that Lebanon had not previously known during the revolution and broke the limits that had prevailed.

Some of the criticism leveled at the political class could be considered defamation, with public accusations of corruption and theft. This criticism has become part of revolutionaries’ daily discourse, expressed publicly through various media outlets and social media platforms without fear or ambiguity.

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