“A Sword of Damocles”: Media Policy, Digital Cultures, and the Discourse of Press Code Reform
This article analyzes the evolution of media policy in Morocco, focusing on discourse surrounding 2016 revisions to Morocco’s press code. As part of a larger conservative turn in digital media policy post–Arab Spring, Moroccan authorities framed press code revisions as fulfilling commitments to the international community, adopting a more conciliatory approach than other oft-cited authoritarian states. This disparity makes it worth considering why Morocco’s new press code became the site of contentious and protracted struggle and what the policy-making process reveals about the intersection of neoliberal globalization, digital culture, and authoritarian politics. Policy analysis based on comparative reading of legal texts and discourse analysis demonstrates how the policy-making process works as a mechanism for authoritarian legitimacy on the world stage. I argue that revisions to Morocco’s press code demonstrate a reassertion of sovereign power alongside increased mechanisms for the legal and discursive distribution of responsibility to diverse stakeholders.