Alhurra and Radio Sawa’s intensive coverage of the Tunisian “revolution” started on Monday, Jan. 10th with comprehensive coverage of street protestors’ clashes with security forces in Tunisia. Extensive coverage continued throughout the week during newscasts and hourly updates. On Friday, Jan. 14th when Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali stepped down Alhurra pre-empted programming for live continuous coverage for more than six hours. Alhurra’s Tunisia-based correspondent filed reports; along with exclusive video sent in from Tunisian viewers filming the riots on their cell phones and personal cameras. A second correspondent—a native Tunisian—working for Alhurra in Springfield has also been deployed to Tunis.
During the coverage, Alhurra interviewed legal experts, journalists and political analysts from Tunisia, including two members of Tunisia’s new unity government. The network also interviewed experts and analysts from Paris, Geneva and the U.S. Guests include:
- PJ Crowley, State Department Spokesperson
- Taieb Baccouche, President of Arab Institute for Human Rights (new Minister of Education in Tunisia’s new unity government)
- Abedalwahab Alhani, International Network for Human Rights and Progress
- Daniel Calingaert, Freedom House
- Ziad Alhani, Member of the Tunisian Journalist Federation
- Mukhtar Al-Tariqi, President of the Tunisian Union for the Defense of Human Rights
- Dr. Mansaf Al-Marzouqi, President of the Tunisian opposition “The Congress for the Republic”
- Mark Toner, Deputy State Department Spokesperson
- Ahmed Ounais, Former diplomat and Deputy Foreign Minister in Tunisia’s new unity government
Radio Sawa extended two of its newscasts (one to 30-minutes and another to 45-minutes) on Jan. 14th to provide in-depth coverage of the situation in Tunisia. Radio Sawa interviewed people from different Tunisian opposition and human rights groups, Arab league and French officials, legal experts, and Tunisian-Americans. Radio Sawa also solicited reaction from government officials and citizens in different Arab countries. On Saturday, Jan. 15th Radio Sawa extended one of its morning newscasts to 30-minutes to provide listeners with the latest developments.
Coverage of the Tunisian reporting was not limited to newscasts. Alhurra talk shows have been covering the riots and upheaval in Tunisia with guests including Tunisia activists and journalists. Radio Sawa’s daily program, Magazine, focused on the uprising in Tunisia each day since the Tunisia president left office.
Alhurra’s flagship program Al Youm, provided viewers with the latest news from Tunisia, examined popular uprisings from the past 20 years and the return of Tunisian opposition leader Moncef Marzouki following his exile to France. The program interviewed experts on press freedom in Tunisia and international relations.
Radio Sawa’s all news website, RadioSawa.com, continuously updated headlines with the latest information throughout the crisis. News headlines were posted on Alhurra and Radio Sawa’s Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. With people posting comments such as Samer Alabadi who wrote, “A thousand times over, congratulations to the Tunisian people for their victory, they are truly heroes, and they deserve to live in freedom and dignity, the time for silence is over, and a change is coming to all tyrant Arab leaders.” Additionally, Alhurra solicited reaction from viewers through Facebook to be incorporated within its newscasts. So far, viewers have expressed skepticism that the riots will result in a true democracy and opinions were split on whether to include Tunisia’s ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party within the new Tunisian government. Alhurra is continuing to solicit viewers’ opinions and video reports which will be incorporated into news coverage as appropriate.
Additionally, Alhurra and Radio Sawa have covered related stories dealing with self-immolation protests in Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania, as well as protests against inflation and unemployment in Algeria and Jordan.