Professor Fatima El Issawi

Department of Literature Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS)
Professor Fatima El Issawi
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  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873115

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    5NW.4.15, Colchester Campus



Professor Fatima el Issawi is a British Lebanese scholar and journalist. Her expertise in the media industry with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) mixes journalism, public communication, policy, and academia. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the project “Media and Transitions to Democracy: Journalistic Practices in Communicating Conflicts—The Arab Spring” funded by the British Academy Sustainable Development Programme (296k, 27 months). The project aims to develop an innovative conceptual framework on the interplay between news media and conflicts in troubled- or failed- transitions to democracy, taking the Arab uprisings as case study. Since 2012, Fatima has been leading research projects on Arab media under transition in the context of the Arab Spring. From 2012 to 2014, she led the project “Arab Revolutions: Media Revolutions” funded by the Open Society Foundations (100K) and based at the department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. The project provided in-depth empirical analysis on the transformations in media practices and values brought by the transitional political landscape to traditional media in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt and the relationship this has to the fragile democratisation processes. Between 2014 and 2017, she led the project “Arab National Media and Politics: Democracy Revisited” looking at the intricate link between traditional media and democratization taking Morocco and Algeria as case studies. The project was funded by the Middle East Centre of the London School of Economics (70K). Fatima has over fifteen years of experience as international correspondent in conflict zones. She has covered conflicts, wars, and crises in Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan for leading international media such as Agence France Presse (AFP) and the BBC World Service. The impact of her work extends beyond academic research and reaches civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, and policy makers. A recent ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant (14K) has allowed to transform her research findings into policy tools to improve the understanding of the Arab region by international policy makers and media development agencies. Her book ‘Arab National Media and Political Change’ (Palgrave) has received positive endorsements from leading scholars in the fields of media and democratization in the UK and US. Professor Silvio Waisbord, editor of the Journal of Communication, has praised the book as “a sober, nuanced analysis of media and political transition in the Arab world”. Fatima is a regular contributor to international media including the New Yorker, Al Jazeera, CNN, Bloomberg, and Voice of America. Fatima holds a PhD in media studies from Pantheon-Assas Paris II University. She is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.


  • PhD Panthéon-Assas University,


University of Essex

  • Fellow, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex (2016 - present)

Other academic

  • Senior Visiting Fellow, International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science (2017 - 2019)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Media and Democratization

Open to supervise

Arab Media

Open to supervise

Journalistic Practices and Models

Open to supervise

Media Systems

Open to supervise

Media in Transitions

Open to supervise

Media Policy

Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Diversity and Democratic Transition: Between Clientelism and Repression

Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference, 3/12/2021

Media Diversity and Democratization in Tunisia: A case study

Middle East Studies Association annual meeting, 3/12/2021

Media Accountability and Media Sustainability

Invited presentation, Journalists workshop, Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, Berlin, Germany, 24/9/2021

The role of media in democratic transition in MENA

Roundtable on "The Arab Spring Ten Years on", Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, London, United Kingdom, 16/4/2021

The Unfinished Arab Spring Ten Years on: Where Are We Going?

Monthly public talk, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford, United States, 15/1/2021

The Silent Takeover- Media Capture in the 21st Century

Invited presentation, Pluralistic Party-Media Landscapes (Tunisia as Case Study), Berlin, Germany, Berlin, Germany, 22/11/2018

Arab Media Framing of the Uprisings: The Dangerous “Other” and the Glorified Self

Media, War & Conflict journal 10th anniversary conference: Spaces of War, War of Spaces, Accademia Europea Di Firenze, Florence, Italy, 22/5/2018

The Hybrid Journalist: Agent of Change?

Talk provided to students and staff funded by an Impact Acceleration Grant/ ESRC., Institute for Middle East Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, Washington D.C., United States, 29/11/2017

The Journalist/Activist: An Arab Case Study

Talk provided to graduate students funded by an Impact Acceleration Grant/ ESRC, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, United States, 13/11/2017

Hybrid Public Spaces, Hybrid Practices

Invited presentation, Communication, Conflict and the Media in Transitional Contexts, Peace Research Institute, Oslo, Norway, 7/11/2017

Book Presentation: Arab National Media and Political Change

Talk to students and staff funded by an Impact Acceleration Grant/ESRC, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, Ottawa, Canada, 17/10/2017

Media and Democratization: Lessons from the MENA region

Seminar to graduate students funded by an Impact Acceleration Grant/ESRC, Department of Political Science, Montreal, Canada, 16/10/2017

Revolutions arabes, Revolutions des medias.

Seminar to staff and students funded by an Impact Acceleration Grant/ESRC., Haute Etudes Internationales, Universite Laval, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur l’Afrique et le Moyen-Orient (CIRAM),, Québec, Canada, 12/10/2017

Arab National Media and Politics: Morocco and Algeria

Presentation of final findings for the research project “Arab National Media and Politics: Democracy Revisited”, The Mohammed Ben Rashid School for Communication, the American University in Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 19/1/2017

Media Change: Perspectives from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria

Invited presentation, Dynamics of Change: Media and the Public Sphere in Egypt, Berlin, Germany, 14/12/2016

New Media: New Landscape?

Invited presentation, Historical Change, Political Transitions and Media’s Role, The European Institute of the Mediterranean and Al Jazeera Centre for Studies;, Barcelona, Spain, 24/9/2015

Arab Media as a Fourth Power?

Invited presentation, Arab Spring Four Years On: Revisiting Societal Dynamics, Casa Arabe and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Madrid, Spain, 4/3/2015

Social Media in the Arab World: An Everyday Revolution

Invited presentation, 'Technology and Innovation for Development' annual conference, The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University, New York, United States, 18/2/2015

Regulatory Media Reform: The Tunisian Experience, a Successful Example?

Invited presentation, Media in Political Transition: Focus on Tunisia, University of Cambridge, UK, Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 17/7/2014

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Research and Data Handling (LT238)

  • International Journalism and News Reporting (LT242)

  • Media, Politics and Society (LT969)

  • International Journalism (LT992)

  • Journalism Dissertation (LT995)

Previous supervision

Maria-Irina Popescu
Maria-Irina Popescu
Thesis title: American Made: The Homegrown Terrorist and 9/11 Myths in the Contemporary US Novel
Degree subject: Literature
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 29/5/2019


Journal articles (14)

El Issawi, F., “Egyptian Journalists and the Quest for “Something Different” After the Uprising; Structures, Practices, and Agency”. Journal of International Communication

El Issawi, F., Dissent and resistance in the “alternative” public space: a Moroccan case study.”. Journalism: theory, practice and criticism

El Issawi, F., “Egyptian Journalists and the Quest for “Something Different” after the Uprising; The Ambivalent Journalistic Agency between Change and Status Quo. International Communication Gazette

Benequista, N., Abbott, S., Kupe, T. and El-Issawi, F., (2022). What is next for media development?. Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies. 11 (2), 135-140

El Issawi, F., (2021). Alternative Public Spaces in Hybrid Media Environments: Dissent in High Uncertainty. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. 98 (3), 923-942

El Issawi, F., (2021). Media Pluralism and Democratic Consolidation: A Recipe for Success?. The International Journal of Press/Politics. 26 (4), 861-881

Hill, J. and El Issawi, F., (2021). Guest Editors’ Introduction: Media, Accountability, and Dissent in the Middle East and North Africa. The International Journal of Press/Politics. 26 (4), 761-773

El Issawi, F., (2020). Egyptian journalists and the struggle for change following the 2011 uprising: The ambiguous journalistic agency between change and conformity. The International Communication Gazette. 82 (7), 628-645

El-Issawi, F. and Cammaerts, B., (2016). Shifting journalistic roles in democratic transitions: Lessons from Egypt. Journalism: theory, practice and criticism. 17 (5), 549-566

el-Issawi, F., (2016). Networked publics and digital contention: the politics of everyday life in Tunisia. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 43 (4), 689-691

El Issawi, F., (2014). Women and media: Libyan female journalists from Gaddafi media to post-revolution: case study. CyberOrient. 8 (1)

El Issawi, F., (2011). The Arab Spring and the challenge of minority rights: will the Arab revolutions overcome the legacy of the past?. European View. 10 (2), 249-258

Baumann, G. and el Issawi, F., (2010). The BBC Arabic Service: Changing Political Mediascapes. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. 3 (2), 137-151

El-Issawi, F. and Georgiou, M., (2010). Media use at the crossroads: Nicosia. Journalism. 11 (6), 758-763

Books (2)

El Issawi, F. and Cavatorta, F., (2020). The Arab Spring: micro dynamics of revolt between change and continuity. Gingko

El Issawi, F., (2016). Arab National Media and Political Change 'Recording the Transition'. Palgrave Macmillan. 978-1-137-53215-2

Book chapters (15)

El Issawi, F., The New Arab street: Past, Presents and Futures in Dissent. In: Voices abd Conversations

El Issawi, F., (2016). Arab transitional media: A comparative analysis of Tunisian, Libyan and Egyptian traditional media industries. In: Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings. Editors: Zayani, M. and Mirghani, S., . C Hurst & Co. 978-1849045643

El Issawi, F., (2016). A Comparative Analysis of Traditional Media Industry Transitions in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. In: Politics and the Media in the Post Arab Spring Middle East. Editors: Zayani, M. and Mirgani, S., . C Hurst & Co (Publishers) Ltd. 45- 70. 9781849045643

El-Issawi, F., (2016). Regulatory Media Reform: The Legacy of the Past and Burdens in the Present. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 13- 46. 9781137532152

El-Issawi, F., (2016). The Media Elite: Moderators or Preachers of the Public Opinion?. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 71- 97. 9781137532152

El-Issawi, F., (2016). Journalists Versus Activists? Traditional Journalists and Cyber-Activism. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 129- 151. 9781137532152

El-Issawi, F., (2016). State Media: A Public Service?. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 99- 128. 9781137532152

El-Issawi, F., (2016). Ratings Are Votes: Media and Democratization. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 153- 179. 9781137532152

El-Issawi, F., (2016). Conclusions. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 181- 189. 9781137532152

El-Issawi, F., (2016). Watchdogs and Patriots: How Arab Journalists Define Professionalism in Daily Practice. In: Arab National Media and Political Change. Palgrave Macmillan US. 47- 69. 9781137532152

El Issawi, F., (2015). Tunisian media and political polarization: glorifying the self, rejecting the other. In: The Tunisian Media: Between Polarization and Compromise: Arab Media Report. Editors: Longo, P. and Meringolo, A., . Reset - Dialogues on Civilizations. 33- 48. 9788898593088

El Issawi, F., (2014). The role of Egyptian media in the coup. In: IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook 2014. European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). 299- 304

El Issawi, F., (2012). The Tunisian transition: the evolving face of the second republic. In: After the Arab Spring: Power Shift in the Middle East?. Editors: Kitchen, N., . LSE IDEAS, London School of Economics and Political Science. 18- 22

Brynin, M., Raban, Y. and Anderson, B., (2007). Introduction. In: Information and Communication Technologies in Society. Editors: Anderson, B., Brynin, M., Gershuny, J. and Raban, Y., . Taylor & Francis. 1- 11. 0415383846. 9781137532152

El Issawi, F., (2001). A female journalist or a woman who happens to be a member of the press?. In: Information and Communication in our Society. Editors: al-Amin, A., Hamadeh, N., al-Kadiri, N. and Nasr, M., . Lebanese Association of Women Researchers

Reports and Papers (8)

Mirgani, S., el Issawi, F., Khalil, J., AlNajjar, A., Harb, Z. and Seib, P., Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings Summary Report

El-Issawi, F., (2017). Algerian national media: freedom at a cost

El Issawi, F., (2016). Moroccan national media: between change and status quo

El Issawi, F., (2014). Egyptian media under transition: in the name of the regime... in the name of the people?

El Issawi, F., (2013). Libya media transition: heading to the unknown.

El Issawi, F., (2013). Transitional Libyan media: free at last?

El Issawi, F., (2012). Tunisian media in transition.

Kitchen, N., Dodge, T., Lawson, G., El Issawi, F., Stein, E., Ulrichsen, KC., Alaaldin, R., Phillips, C., Thiel, T., Rafati, N. and Voller, Y., (2012). After the Arab Spring: power shift in the Middle East?

Other (20)

El Issawi, F., (2016).Moroccan media: between change and status quo ? new research report,London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2015).'I am Charlie' versus 'I am not Charlie',Fadaat Media Ltd

El Issawi, F., (2014).Sex, bombs and no control in Egypt's press,Fadaat Media Ltd

El Issawi, F., Charlton, M., Kageura, A. and Fuller-Jackson, K., (2014).Conference 2014 speaker series: an interview with Fatima El Issawi,London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2013).Libya: where ghosts, guns and crooked politicians hold sway,The Conversation Trust (UK)

El Issawi, F., (2013).The unbearable lightness of Arab 'liberals',openDemocracy

El Issawi, F., (2013).Egypt's media war,POLIS, London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2013).Biased media the new norm,Media in Cooperation in Transition, MICT

El Issawi, F., (2013).The nascent professional standards of traditional media in post-Arab Spring countries,Saudi Research and Marketing UK Ltd

El Issawi, F., (2013).Is Libyan media more free after the revolution? (New research report),POLIS, London School of Economics and Political Science

El-Issawi, F., (2013).The painful rebirth of Libya?s mainstream news media (guest blog),London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2012).In post-revolution Egypt, talk shows redefine the political landscape,Foreign Policy Group

El Issawi, F., (2012).All talk? Egypt's complex media revolution (guest blog),POLIS, London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2012).The road to professionalism for local Arab media after the Arab Spring will undoubtedly be very long and thorny,Blog post from London School of Economics & Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2012).Tunisia: winter of politics, spring of media?,Middle East Centre, The London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2012).Islamists of Tunisia: reconciling national contradictions,Blog post from London School of Economics & Political Science

El-Issawi, F., (2012).Islamism in Egypt: The long road to integration,London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2011).Tunisia's media spring?: new research project,London School of Economics and Political Science

El Issawi, F., (2011).Did the Arab Spring find its roots in the new Iraq?,openDemocracy

El Issawi, F., (2011).Lebanon and the "Spring" of others,openDemocracy

Grants and funding


A Manual by journalists for best practices on how to report political conflicts in uncertain Transitions to Democracy.

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)


Media and Transitions to Democracy: Journalistic Practices and Communicating Conflicts: The Arab Spring

British Academy


Media and Democratization: The Arab Spring case study: Informing policy, building networks of knowledge and guiding media reform strategies

University of Essex

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