We knew that, of course. But it’s heartening to see the New York Times report that “Voting, Not Violence, Is the Big Story on Arab TV”:
Sometime after the first insurgent attack in Iraq this morning, news directors at Arab satellite channels and newspaper editors found themselves facing an altogether new decision: should they report on the violence, or continue to cover the elections themselves?
After close to two years of providing up-to-the-minute images of explosions and mayhem, and despite months of predictions of a bloodbath on election day, some news directors said they found the decision surprisingly easy to make. The violence simply was not the story this morning; the voting was.
Overwhelmingly, Arab channels and newspapers greeted the elections as a critical event with major implications for the region, and many put significant resources into reporting on the vote, providing blanket coverage throughout the country that started about a week ago. Newspapers kept wide swaths of their pages open, and the satellite channels dedicated most of the day to coverage of the polls.
Often criticized for glorifying Iraq’s violence if not inciting it, Arab news channels appeared to take particular care in their election day reporting. Far from the almost nightly barrage of blood and tears, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, the kings of Arab news, barely showed the aftermath of the suicide bombings that occurred in the country.
Violence in the Arab world is a sadly familiar, dog-bites-man story. Even Al Jazeera couldn’t escape the fact that the spread of freedom is the news of the day.