A rapidly evolving media ecology is posing significant challenges to actors in the halls of power, on the streets of popular dissent, and in the global newsrooms that connect these sites to the imaginations of media users throughout the world. It is a complicated tangle of relations, and difficult questions arise about which theoretical instruments are most useful when trying to unpick it. Global news coverage of the "Arab Awakening" of 2011 is fertile terrain for an exploration of some of these questions. The article compares how popular resistance is narrated by newsrooms with different reporting traditions, and reflects on how global audiences are positioned in relation to such events. The theoretical discussion is organized around the notions of media witnessing and cosmopolitanism. The empirical analysis is based on reports from over 1000 news stories broadcast on Al Jazeera English, which claims to give a voice to the voiceless, and BBC World, which has a tradition of reporting the world from the vantage point of elites. The results indicate that the reporting gaze is gendered differently, and that there are also intriguing differences in the way audiences are situated by the two broadcasters.
©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston