Hypermedia and Governance in Saudi Arabia
Social and Behavioral Sciences
The advent of new media has altered the information dynamics that shape public discourse. Convergence, miniaturization, personalization, interactivity, and mobility have blurred the boundaries between producers, consumers, and regulators of information. The role and impact of old mass media such as radio, television and the press, has changed as a result of their interaction with electronic mail, cellular phones, digital cameras, among others. Through an examination of public discourse surrounding Star Academy, the most popular and most controversial program in Arab television history, this article explores how dynamics of information among different media have shaped the Arab public sphere. Based on five months of fieldwork in 2004, the analysis focuses on electronic fatwas, press commentary, new legislation to “protect morality”, SMS messages from fans, cellular phone voting, participatory television talk–shows, and media marketing strategies. The article examines new articulations among political, cultural religious and commercial factors that have been enabled by new technologies and the impact of these interactions on Arab public discourse. The analysis suggests a model of inter–media dynamics.