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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Egypt: Blogs as "freedom of press opportunity"?

Egyptian bloggers are using their freedom to criticize the government. One example is that photos of police men beating protesters were posted. "In a country where most major newspapers are state-owned or affiliated to a party, the Internet is offering an unprecedented freedom and platform for an increasingly bold opposition to the regime", states AFP (through Yahoo!).

In an article in the Online Journalism Review, Mark Glaser describes the situation of Egyptian bloggers. He states that blog readership remains limited due to basic literacy (only about 58% of the population is said to be literate), the expense of owing a computer, and the language barrier for English-language blogs. Similary, Joshua Stacker, an American political researcher in Cairo, said to AFP : "They (the bloggers) disguise their identities and it gives them a platform to say things they can't say in public. If the state wanted to go after them they could, but it's only the elite who reads them."

However, bloggers will soon have the possibility to play another role in politics. Mohamed M., an Egyptian blogger, is cited in the Online Journalism Review saying that blogs "might become 'citizen monitors' for the September 7 elections, reporting on what they see at polling places and taking photos of any harassment or election-rigging. That's the kind of first-hand reporting that can help bloggers serve in a watchdog role while other media are held back."

But Glaser also states in his article that "bloggers wonder what will happen once the election is over and Mubarak has won in a landslide - which almost everyone expects to happen. Will bloggers continue to have the freedom to organize protests and attack Mubarak and his policies?"

Sources: AFP through Yahoo!, Online Journalism Review

However, bloggers will soon have the possibility to play another role in politics. Mohamed M., an Egyptian blogger, is cited in the Online Journalism Review saying that blogs "might become 'citizen monitors' for the September 7 elections, reporting on what they see at polling places and taking photos of any harassment or election-rigging. That's the kind of first-hand reporting that can help bloggers serve in a watchdog role while other media are held back."

But Glaser also states in his article that "bloggers wonder what will happen once the election is over and Mubarak has won in a landslide - which almost everyone expects to happen. Will bloggers continue to have the freedom to organize protests and attack Mubarak and his policies?"

Sources: AFP through Mediachannel, Online Journalism Review

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on August 31, 2005 at 11:46 AM in a. Citizen journalism, o. Ethics and Press Freedom | Permalink

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