Libyan state-run media tells one story; citizen journos tell another

In Libya, two different stories are being told. The state-run news media has ditched regular programming in favour of 24-hour broadcasts of pro-government rallies, poetry and songs in support of Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the New York Times reports. “Meanwhile, Emad Mekay writes, “Libyan protesters, who were turning to social media and the foreign news media, to win over hearts and minds, inside and outside Libya.”

Mekay quotes Khaled Mahmoud, a former bureau chief in Cairo for Libya’s official news agency Jana and correspondent for Libyan state television (he’s now an analyst of Libyan affairs).

“Years of marketing Colonel Qaddafi using similar tactics made most of the official media carry little credibility. Those are heavily controlled media outlets,” Mahmoud told MeKay. “That’s why you see them taking pictures only in limited areas. You’ll never see the Libyan TV cameras stepping outside affluent areas or touring the real side streets of Tripoli.”

Anti-government protesters have launched news sites filled with citizen journalism accounts of violence, injury and death. Earlier today, for instance, a protester posted a video of an injured young protester on a newly-lauched site The English-language site offers a translation of the cries from the injured man’s older cousin:

There is no god except God! And the martyr is the beloved of God!
Guys guys! Make some room!
He’s still alive! Just make some space!
He’s my cousin!
A real man I swear!
There is no god except God!
There is no god except God!

Two other sites the NYT mentions are Almanarak and Libya Alyoum.

“Among their most powerful weapons [for anti-government protestors] have been crudely filmed videos and images of civilian deaths and injuries,” Mekay writes. “The amateurish quality of these has given them an added psychological strength and impact in contradicting the clean and professional pictures on Libyan television.”