Another source for those who are not a fan of AJ. Personally Speaking I think it should be made clear that it is CNN International and NOT CNN who is
responsible. Contrary to popular belief there is a difference between the 2 entitites. CNN did air the complete documentary where as CNN
Internaitonal only aired segments of it.
The Guardian - Why didn't CNN's
international arm air its own documentary on Bahrain's Arab Spring repression?
Some basics -
In late March 2011, as the Arab Spring was spreading, CNN sent a four-person crew to Bahrain to produce a one-hour documentary on the use of
internet technologies and social media by democracy activists in the region. Featuring on-air investigative correspondent Amber Lyon, the CNN team had
a very eventful eight-day stay in that small, US-backed kingdom.
By the time the CNN crew arrived, many of the sources who had agreed to speak to them were either in hiding or had disappeared. Regime opponents whom
they interviewed suffered recriminations, as did ordinary citizens who worked with them as fixers. Leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was
charged with crimes shortly after speaking to the CNN team. A doctor who gave the crew a tour of his village and arranged meetings with government
opponents, Saeed Ayyad, had his house burned to the ground shortly after. Their local fixer was fired ten days after working with them.
The entire documentary was NOT done by just Amber or the others with her. The documentary length was 1 hour and her segment took up 13 minutes of that
CNN's total cost for the documentary, ultimately titled "iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring", was in excess of $100,000, an unusually
high amount for a one-hour program of this type. The portion Lyon and her team produced on Bahrain ended up as a 13-minute segment in the documentary.
That segment, which as of now is available on YouTube, is a hard-hitting and unflinching piece of reporting that depicts the regime in a very negative
It did air in the US in total, including her segment -
On 19 June 2011 at 8pm, CNN's domestic outlet in the US aired "iRevolution" for the first and only time.
CNN International is the entity that refused to air it -
Despite these accolades, and despite the dangers their own journalists and their sources endured to produce it, CNN International (CNNi) never
broadcast the documentary. Even in the face of numerous inquiries and complaints from their own employees inside CNN, it continued to refuse to
broadcast the program or even provide any explanation for the decision. To date, this documentary has never aired on CNNi.
How the ball got rolling -
CNNi's refusal to broadcast "iRevolution" soon took on the status of a mini-scandal among its producers and reporters, who began pushing Lyon to
speak up about this decision. In June 2011, one long-time CNN news executive emailed Lyon:
"Why would CNNi not run a documentary on the Arab Spring, arguably the the biggest story of the decade? Strange, no?"
Motivated by the concerns expressed by long-time CNN journalists, Lyon requested a meeting with CNNi's president, Tony Maddox, to discuss the refusal
to broadcast the documentary. On 24 June 2011, she met with Maddox, who vowed to find out and advise her of the reasons for its non-airing. He never
In a second meeting with Maddox, which she had requested in early December to follow up on her unanswered inquiry, Lyon was still given no answers.
Instead, at that meeting, Maddox, according to Lyon, went on the offense, sternly warning her not to speak publicly about this matter. Several times,
Maddox questioned her about this 18 November 2011 tweet by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, demanding to know what prompted it:
CNN responds -
When I asked CNN to comment on Maddox's meetings with Lyon, they declined to respond on specific details and said he was not available for
interview. Instead, they made the following statement:
"The documentary 'iRevolution' was commissioned for CNN US. While the programme did not air in full on CNN International, segments of it were shown.
This differing use of content is normal across our platforms, and such decisions are taken for purely editorial reasons. CNN International has run
more than 120 stories on Bahrain over the past six months, a large number of which were critical in tone and all of which meet the highest
Bahrains government involvement -
Despite Lyon's being stonewalled by CNNi, she said facts began emerging that shined considerable light on the relationship between the regime in
Bahrain and CNNi when it came to "iRevolution". Upon returning from Bahrain in April, Lyon appeared on CNN several times to recount her own detention
by security forces and to report on ongoing brutality by the regime against its own citizens, even including doctors and nurses providing medical aid
to protesters. She said she did not want to wait for the documentary's release to alert the world to what was taking place.
In response, according to both the above-cited CNN employee and Lyon, the regime's press officers complained repeatedly to CNNi about Lyon generally
and specifically her reporting for "iRevolution". In April, a senior producer emailed her to say:
"We are dealing with blowback from Bahrain govt on how we violated our mission, etc."
"It became a standard joke around the office: the Bahrainis called to complain about you again," recounted Lyon. Lyon was also told by CNN employees
stationed in the region that "the Bahrainis also sent delegations to our Abu Dhabi bureau to discuss the coverage."
CNN Internationals response
UPDATE: Here is CNN International's response to Glenn Greenwald's story in the Guardian about Amber Lyon's documentary, iRevolution: Online
Warriors of the Arab Spring.
CNN International has carried advertising and sponsored content since the 1990s. The critical issue is that our editorial operations and our
commercial operations are completely separate. No deal ever buys any editorial influence.
Alongside many other international news outlets, CNN International has carried a very small amount of advertising from the Bahrain Economic
Before, during and after the production timeframe and airing of this specific documentary our editorial coverage of Bahrain has been plentiful,
thorough, unbiased and frequently critical, as our previous response below underlines and any search on CNN.com will attest.
CNNI's previous response after the jump.
1. False: CNN International did not air "its own documentary".
The Truth: It was never intended to air on CNN International. It was an hour-long program about the impact of social media on the Arab Spring that
was commissioned for CNN US, where it ran in June of 2011. The portion of it that concerned Bahrain lasted about 13 minutes.
Despite Greenwald’s speculation about the editorial choices that are made when operating multiple networks with different audience profiles, there
is nothing unusual about this programming decision.
2. False: CNN International ensured Amber's reporting "was never seen on television by Bahrainis or anyone else in the region."
LOTS of info from both sides in the links provided. Hope this helps the debate / topic some.
Glenn Greewalds response to
edit on 29-9-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)
edit on 29-9-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)