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Mainstream media’s Egypt coverage pathetic

This week America had one of the worst storms in recorded history. It covered our cars, froze our pipes and complicated our travels.

Some lost power, some were trapped inside their homes. It quickly developed into one of the most covered news stories on nearly every newspaper, web site or newscast.

Weather is certainly a big part of news. At best, it helps us plan our day. At worst, we grumble about what a failure the newscasters were. But we’re lucky to be able  to complain over the Internet, to start useless Twitter trends about the “snowpocalypse” and communicate with our loved ones over the phone instead of facing the weather.

The only other news story this week it appeared, and rightfully so, has been the unrest in Egypt, where people are calling for the removal of the President, and in American newscasts, weather seemed to take precedence.

Though it has gotten stronger over time, the coverage of Egypt in the beginning was slow and weak. One of the strongest reports came from Twitter, where reporters and media aggregates were trying to spread information as quickly as possible. And now, with American reporters finally making their way over to Egypt, more stories can be heard.

The lack of early mainstream coverage from Egypt in America was unsettling. Yes, it is a dangerous place, but there were stories to be covered, voices to be set free. Most major news outlets didn’t have reporters there until Jan. 31, days after the troubles started.

What made the foreign media even more of a necessity is the media blackout that overtook Egypt at the start of the riots.

With most of the cell phone and Internet coverage blocked, the little airwaves that are free are being taken over by social media. A new service melds together Google, Twitter and the voice-powered Say Now. It gives civilians the chance to share their experiences by calling a phone number which translates the message into a tweet (available at twitter.com/speak2tweet).

Another of the most powerful reports has come from Al Jazeera. While given a largely negative reputation in America, it is one of the most trusted news outlets in the world.

In filling the gap of American reports, Al-Jazeera is reaching more viewers, through the Internet and TV broadcast, than ever before. Its persistence to report the news and get the story out there is worth applauding and mimicking. On its web site, Al-Jazeera said, “We will report the news however we can. If we have to use flip cams in Egypt, we will,” demonstrating diligence lacking over here.

Things show no signs of slowing down, with reportedly two million people protesting in the streets of Cairo, and President Hosni Mubarak refusing to step down, though he will not run for re-election in September.

I would be wrong to try to comment on the political situation there. I am by no means an expert in politics, but I do, however, have a good knowledge of media. And unlike the weather, the Egyptians deserve more justice – and as much coverage as they need.

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