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The Sultanate of silence: A critical analysis of the Omani newspapers’ coverage of the 2011 protests

Al-Rawahi, Moza 2019. The Sultanate of silence: A critical analysis of the Omani newspapers’ coverage of the 2011 protests. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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While many studies about the Arab Spring have been conducted, Oman has been largely omitted from scholarly debates. This dissertation aims to address this research gap by examining the role of two Omani newspapers (Oman Daily and Al-Watan) during the 2011 protests. It will analyse two aspects of Omani journalism: news content and news production practices. A content analysis of over 800 news stories over 74 days from both newspapers was conducted to examine how they represented the protests. A close examination of the newspapers agendas shows that news about the protests and public demands were ignored during January and February 2011. After the state made various concessions, media attention then focussed on the government’s response to public demands. However, when protests became more violent, the newspapers intensified their coverage about the demonstrations. Both newspapers engaged in more critical coverage, undermining the protests by focusing on patriotism, violence and internal divisions. This thesis also explores if and how the newspapers’ coverage differs from that of citizens’ debates in Sablat Oman forum, one of the most popular forums in the country in 2011. A sample of 1783 posts was collected from the forum within the same period of time. Semi structured interviews with 15 journalists from both newspapers show that journalists encountered several constraints in their reporting from inside and outside their organizations. Political pressure, however, was of paramount influence, which made journalists cautious to adopt an empowering representation of the protests. Overall, the study reinforces the ‘protest paradigm’ thesis long established in academic literature about the media representation of demonstrations, and argues that the politicized nature of the Omani media contributed to weaken protest coverage. Both newspapers acted as a sphere of ‘confirmed’ intellectuals (Spielhaus 2012, p. 8) that continued to serve the government instead of reflecting the Omanis’ concerns.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 November 2019
Date of Acceptance: 12 November 2019
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2020 01:25

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