Crisis & Post crisis Media in Bahrain

The media coverage in Bahrain today is an extension of positions taken during the recent crisis in the country. As such one should speak of ‘medias’ not ‘media’, which in this case can be divided into two kinds which target separate audiences. It is a ‘crisis media’ because since the recent troubles in the country, it has been infected by sectarianism, marginalization, accusations and the harassment of journalists.

Media coverage in Bahrain also contains a considerable amount of stereotyping, where the opponent (whether from the opposition or the loyalist camp) is boycotted or ignored in order to contain their dangerous influence on an already sectarianized and politicised mass. This media can also be described as tense, in a state of constant attack rather than defence, and bent on fabricating lies and stories in a way which resonates with the emotions and sectarian affiliations of its audience. As such, it demonize? the ‘other’ and spreads suspicion and fear about the threats they pose on a group’s interests.

The current media in Bahrain is a media in a state of war; its aim is to mobilise and incite hatred and extremism against an imaginary enemy. The influence of such a media is limited to its followers, as it feeds into their deep-rooted fears and builds barriers between different sects and groups which are difficult to overcome.

Unfortunately, we do not have a national media in Bahrain. What we have instead is a media that moves without a common point of reference or law and without any vision for the future, as it is too preoccupied with sectarian wars. Even before the crisis, Bahrain had lacked a modern press law, and at present this is not a priority, as all parties are engrossed in the on-going political war. The kind of media produced by political battles, though seemingly necessary during periods of crisis, will nonetheless ?esult in long-term damage to Bahrain’s culture and society.

So in fact, there is no post-crisis media on the horizon in Bahrain, as political opponents are too embroiled in political battles to be able to contemplate a different future for Bahraini media. Moreover, journalists have also become victims of the crisis in the same way that the people have become victims of a sectarianized media.

Who could possibly restore hope or bring these opponents together? Who could monitor, correct and guide the course of political and sectarian discourses? The current ‘crisis media’ is neither objective nor professional, and could not care less about building and investing in the future or human rights. Bahrain desperately needs a ‘post-crisis media’ which respects human rights and dignity; a media that promotes national unity, equality, justice and forgiveness.

Currently there is no moderate media in Bahrain, and this is a dangerous indication of the country’s political crisis. Only when a moderate media is born, are we on the right path towards burying schisms and the crisis together.