AMMAN — The way Western news media deal with the Arab world may change in the aftermath of the Arab Spring if countries in the region are able to make successful transitions into democracy, according to an Arab-American journalist.
"With the Arab Spring, there has been a kind of slight paradigm shift, and I think in that paradigm shift there is the opportunity for changing the outlook of media and how it deals with the Arab world," NBC News correspondent in Egypt Ayman Mohyeldin told The Jordan Times in an interview last week.
Mohyeldin, whose first experience in journalism came in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US in 2001, noted that "9/11 put a very negative stereotype of Arabs and Muslims in most Western media."
"I think there still is a negative stereotype… and I think a lot has to do with the superficiality of how the media in general covers the Arab world," he added, arguing that any successful transitions after the Arab Spring "will reverberate positively" in the way media cover the region.
Mohyeldin, who has previously worked at Al Jazeera English and CNN, gained international acclaim for his coverage of the Egyptian revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, with Time Magazine naming him one of the 100 most influential personalities in 2011.
The Egypt-born journalist also covered the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Israeli offensive on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009.
He was in Jordan for the Middle East premiere of the documentary "The war around us", which chronicles his experience with fellow journalist Sherine Tadros in covering the 22-day Gaza war.
"We're hoping that the film serves as a reminder to the global consciousness that with all that's going on in the region, you still have this territory that still remains cut off from the outside world," added Mohyeldin, who is also the documentary's executive producer.
The 75-minute feature directed by Abdallah Omeish won the Newport Beach Film Festival's jury award for best feature documentary in California in early May.
According to Moyheldin, the movie is not just about Gaza.
"It's about friendship, it's about journalism. I think at the very core, at the very end, it's a human story. I think it's a story that resonates with people on many different levels," he said.
"People learn a lot about what it's like to be a correspondent in a war zone."
The Arab-American reporter noted that journalism in war zones has changed over the years.
"The technology has changed, so the information and images of the war have become very ubiquitous," he noted, adding that tools such as social media, the Internet and YouTube have supported the rise of citizen journalism.
"You suddenly have an army or legion of journalists that are contributing information and contributing material and videos and sources, so it becomes almost too much information.
"I don't think that's a bad thing, but I think it requires you to be a bit sharper and it requires these [news] organisations to be more clever in how they sift through all that material," Mohyeldin said, highlighting the role of citizen journalism in supporting professional media.
"I think that it's a very important tool that has emerged... There are places where journalists cannot get to and you have millions of eyewitnesses that are providing you with videos and providing you with information and content.
"The key is just being able to analyse it, verify it, authenticate it… and put it in the proper context."
Commending the role of pan-Arab satellite channels in covering the wave of protests in the region, Mohyeldin said: "They've pushed the envelope… expanded their horizons [and] opened people's viewpoints, but they've also demonstrated some mistakes."
On the other hand, he noted, state media in the Arab world "unfortunately has a very long way to go".
"I think state-controlled media in the Arab world is still very much dominated by the single viewpoint of the state as opposed to being a state-funded news organisation for the public good," he argued.