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Bahrain Listener Letter

Bahrain Listener Letter

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Published by NPRombudsman

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Published by: NPRombudsman on Jan 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Tom Rizzos Full Email
Mr. Schumacher-Matos:Kelly McEvers 5 January 2012 report Bahrain: The Revolution That Wasnt left listeners who may notbe following the events in Bahrain since 14 February 2011 with a number of misperceptions. Perhapsthe most glaring example came in Linda Wertheimers introduction to the piece, in which she stated,Only one of the major uprisings has definitely failed. That declaration is in the past tense, while the uprising in Bahrain is an ongoing event whose conclusionhas not yet occurred. In many respects, the 14 February 2011 uprising has been wildly successful inraising the real situation that has prevailed in Bahrain for decades into the worlds consciousness. Foryears and years it was possible to hear no mention of Bahrain in many mainstream media outlets inthe United States, including NPR. In fact, I searched for any mention of the word Bahrain on thenpr.org website. The search yielded 660 hits. Sorted by date, some 358 (54.2% of the total) haveoccurredSINCE 14 February 2011. The other 302 mentions (and some of these were just mentions inreports with very little to do with Bahrain) date from 13 February 2011 back to 14 February 1996! Inother words, Bahrain has been mentioned more in the past year (since the uprising that has definitelyfailed began) than it had been in the previous 15 years!As for the actual report that was broadcast, it too contains factual errors. At 2:15 we hear how Bahrainbecame the one Arab country whose uprising was definitively put down, while at 3:18 we hear of Theend of Bahrains uprising. While the mass gathering at the Pearl Roundabout was, as the reportaccurately portrays, ended and the monument dismantled, the continued presence of both spontaneous(near daily) and planned protests (for instance Occupy Budaiya Street from last month) and protestsfollowing the ongoing funerals of democracy protesters indicates clearly that this uprising has yet toreach its conclusion, and both these statements are therefore inaccurate.At 6:43 we hear This is all thats left of Bahrain's revolution. In fact, Bahrains revolution not onlycontinues daily in Bahrain, but it has been spread to many other countries by a determined cadre of human rights activists. Maryam Alkhawaja (whose father and sister have been jailed and subjectedtochemical agents and various other forms of abuse at the hands of security personnel) has traveledthroughout continental Europe, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom to spread the news of the ongoingrevolution to sympathetic audiences. Nabeel Rajab, one of the founders of the human rights movementin Bahrain and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, on 1 December received the 2011 IonRatiu Democracy Award from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. People such as these arekeeping the revolution alive in a variety of forums in many different countries, as well as on social mediawebsites like Facebook and Twitter which reach a global audience each day.There are other problems with this report, some of which can be traced in part to differences in textfrom the story on the website (atwww.npr.org/2012/01/05/144637499/bahrain-the-revolution-that-wasnt<http://www.npr.org/2012/01/05/144637499/bahrain-the-revolution-that-wasnt>) versus thetranscript (atwww.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=144637499<http://www.npr.org/templates/

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