‘Manufactured Expertise: Selling Out Arab News Audiences’
As the different uprisings continued to unfold in the Arab world, the demand for TV guests called “analysts,” “academics,” and “experts” increased, despite a serious shortage of true professional experts. Faced with this structural deficit, some Arab TV stations resorted to “manufacturing” their expert news analysts, inviting virtual unknowns, and then bestowing supreme titles upon them in an attempt to create artificial qualifications without having to go through legitimate vetting processes, reviewing actual scientific or practical credentials. By contrast, the genuine experts chose to strictly confine their TV appearances within the limits of their expertise, avoiding the temptation to make claims of knowledge in areas outside their specializations or practical experiences. Still, a majority of the guests did willingly plunge into the maze of spotlights, exploiting the qualitative and quantitative shortages of truly qualified experts. Those pseudo experts emerged as “stars” of the screen, triumphing at the expense of the viewer. The Syrian and the Arab viewer searching for calm and deliberate analysis often finds news guests and ‘experts’ engaged in shouting matches punctuated with harsh, reckless words, and thoughtless gestures, with those who possess louder voices and greater skill in mocking their opponents emerging as the victors. In the end, “The Syrians, and other Arabs, who live with great pain and deep wounds, constitute the real losers, suffering far greater losses than any ‘strategic experts’ on their satellite screens’” wrote Mr. Salam Kawakibi in his “Manufactured Expertise: Selling Out Arab News Audiences” in the forthcoming Al Jadid, Vol. 20, No. 21, 2016.
Reckoning with Darkness: Looking Back on Algeria’s Dark Decade
"Let them Come" (2015), A film from Salem Brahimi, explores the tense and tragic period known in Algeria as the "dark decade." This decade of civil war profoundly affected millions of Algerians, and Brahimi's not only provides the viewer a glimpse into recent history, but also exorcises some of the demons that linger in the trauma from the conflict. What emerges is an important, poignant, and artfully rendered film that penetrates the surface of an oft-forgotten historical moment. To read the full essay, check the link below:
(Image from the film "Let Them Come")
Essays and Features in Al Jadid 71
‘Saad Ardash: Life in the Theater and in Exile’ by Michael Teague.