A few notes to the media re: Tunisia

As a sub-editor for more than a decade, I’ve lots of experience reworking copy into a readable form. Sometimes it takes a bit more than fixing the typos and adding proper punctuation, sometimes journalists get things wrong and you have to fix them.

In the bits and pieces I’ve seen and heard about Tunisia, I feel there are a couple of important bits of direction I want to give the mainstream media:

  1. A popular uprising that overturns a government is a political revolution, not a protest, revolt or any other patronising attempt to minimise people’s struggle against oppression.
  2. A protest where the police/army shoot demonstrators is not a “violent protest”, regardless of how demonstrators react – it’s state repression.
  3. People who go on holidays to repressive dictatorships deserve whatever they get if democracy happens to break out. Countries are not just tourist destinations, they’re places where other people actually live.

It might be a bit too late to take all of this on board in enough time to cover what’s happening in Tunisia properly, but maybe it will help people cover the next unexpected (if you’re not paying attention) outbreak of democracy.

Solidarity with the people of Tunisia.

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Author: Donnacha DeLong

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Donnacha DeLong is an NUJ activist, journalist and online communications consultant with more than 15 years' professional experience.

4 thoughts on “A few notes to the media re: Tunisia”

  1. I keep twittering the word ‘PROTEST’ but I can definitely understand where you are coming from, though I never intended to belittle the brave and courageous actions of Tunisians, I think the word ‘protest’ which is now perhaps overused became a ‘comfort’ word in the 30-day (and continuing) uprising in Tunisia.

  2. Hi, no problem with using it to describe the actual protests, what annoyed me was the media using it to describe the whole thing after the speedy departure of the President! People out protesting is a protest, the successful ousting of a President is a revolution.

  3. I’d put point 3 first, its why I can’t watch the BBC coverage of Egypt. On Sunday (30/01) they spoke to people complaining that attractions were closed, everyone was staying in hotels, they’d have to go home early – when the previous days had seen people killed, beaten and imprisoned.

    I wouldn’t say people deserve whatever they get – ethics of holiday choices can vary, it could be argued that holidays in the UK are immoral after our involvement in the ‘War on Terror.’

  4. I will admit I wrote this very quickly as an annoyed reaction to what I saw on the news, obviously I don’t mean “whatever” they get, not in terms of injury or death. But in terms of serious disruption and a “spoiled holiday”, definitely. I’d make a distinction though, between what you say about the UK – which would be down to personal ethics – and the reality of holidaying in a repressive state. Tourism is a huge part of the Egyptian economy and was a large part of the Tunisian – tourists money helped maintain the regimes – and, of course, if the people aren’t free, then you can’t be sure that workers in the tourism industry have any kind of rights.

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