Mediated Hegemony: Interference in the post-Saddam Iraqi media sector
The toppling of Saddam in 2003 brought with it the re-emergence of the free press in Iraq. This has seen Iraq shift from only a handful of state media outlets that served as propaganda machines, to a vast array of Iraqi-owned newspapers, radio stations and television channels which are being fervently produced and avidly consumed across the nation. As is to be expected, there are several problems that have accompanied such a divergent, ad-hoc and highly volatile media landscape. Leaving aside important issues such as the dangers faced by Iraqi journalists and the lack of appropriate press laws, this paper focuses instead on the influence of both foreign and domestic political bodies on the post-Saddam Iraqi media sector. Among the foreign influences are Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States, all of which fund, control and manipulate various Iraqi media outlets. Not surprisingly, the United States has been the most active, using both overt and clandestine propaganda methods as well as forced closure to control the Iraqi media sector. Unfortunately, such measures are not limited to those governments which exist outside Iraq's borders, with both the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional authority having used similar means to control and even silence Iraq's nascent public sphere. This paper concludes by noting the irony of limiting press freedoms in Iraq during this crucial phase in its transition from despotism to democracy.
Australasian Political Science Association (APSA)Conference