Attention statisticians and undergraduates!
The BBC is reporting today that Iraq has suspended the broadcasting licences of 10 satellite news stations after a wave of sectarian violence swept (and is still sweeping) over the country. The sectarian lines in the greater part of Iraq are divided between Sunni and Shia muslims; Iraq has a Shia majority but while Saddam Hussein was in power, the Sunni majority were represented by his Ba’ath party and thus held all the power.
It would be interesting to see if this effective ban has an effect in reducing or increasing the violence across the country. In the BBC report the correspondent says that most of the stations are ‘Sunni-owned while Qatar-based al-Jazeera is perceived as more pro-Sunni in its Arabic-language reporting in Iraq.’
If the rates of violence reduce, what does this mean for societies around the world in times of crisis? 24-hour news is one of the defining characteristics of the 21st century, with effects that are as yet unclear – 24 hour news may or may not increase partisanship, paranoia, negative perceptions of the world, and lead to more unverified reporting, of the people who consume it in great numbers. But to what extent is this an effect of the actual phenomenon of 24 hour news, or is it simply a vector for manipulation that was more traditionally seen in the newspapers? I say this because one negative example of this culture that my mind leapt to was the United States, where you are either a Fox person or a CNN person with no apparent room for someone in between.
So in Iraq, they are suspending these 10 satellite news stations, but the report does not say if it is banning all satellite news stations. In any case, we can only wait and see what happens in Iraq for the period of the license suspension, which is not given in the report…