This year has been a demanding one for researchers with an eye on the Middle East. The speed at which events have unfolded in 2011 has made timely understanding, let alone rigorous analysis, virtually impossible. Though the engine room team has spent considerable time in Egypt over the past two years, the information cascade and complexity of the situation there has stymied forecasting or understanding of things outside our most immediate research interests. In this case, our focus has been on tactical media use by organizers; we have mounds of data on this and are quite comfortable drawing conclusions (and perhaps asking more precise questions than providing precise answers).
But if we can’t get a good grip on what is happening in a context with which we are intimately familiar, how can we even begin to understand what is happening in other contexts across the region?
To help us better understand the contours of the uprisings and to provide support for researchers with expertise and interest in a variety of contexts and issue areas, we set our sights on gathering quantitative research to provide an overview of on-the-ground events and global media’s response to them. The first round of the quantitative assessment was designed to inform analysis of the relationship between the volume and source media coverage and the ways that the uprisings unfold. In June, we published a visualization that laid out, country by country, government actions (both repressions and concessions) and data on the nature of the protests.
In July we were fortunate to bring Joumana Seikaly onto our team to provide more in-depth, and up-to-date analysis of these variables. She will be posting on the information and trends she finds and this week will begin a series of Fast Facts on Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain (click for one-page PDF overviews, or scroll down). These Fast Facts are designed to give a quick overview of what has unfolded on the ground throughout the month. On Tuesday we will be posting data on the repression and concession indicators in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria for July 2011. We will be updating this content monthly; sign up for our RSS feed here to get updates.