Journalists, Bloggers in the Middle East Examine Social Media and the Future of Journalism in Their Communities
In Tunis, more than 50 professional and citizen reporters gathered for a two-day seminar convened by Internews and the Mohamed Ali Center for Research, Studies and Training (CEMAREF) in February. Wide-ranging opinions on national media ownership, media law, industry-wide ethics, and the distinction between state and citizen-led media were discussed.
“This is a pivotal time for self-determination among Tunisian media,” said Jamal Dajani, Internews Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, who co-chaired the conference. “These forums represent an opportunity for the industry to come together and work for their common goals. There remains a great deal of competition between bloggers and the so-called ‘traditional’ media, but they all want to increase accountability through an open flow of information.”
A week earlier, more than 40 Palestinian journalists gathered for a roundtable on the changes in social media and its impacts on society and journalism.
Several of those present said that young people turn to social media because mass media has failed to play its watchdog role. “Youth don’t trust the media in Palestine. It does not relate to them, it does not give a voice to the people. We trust information on Facebook more because it comes from real people,” said journalist Ameed Shihata.
Social media expert Maath Musleh noted that one of the most important things to be done in Palestine is the creation of new media and social media courses in universities. “People need to understand social media tools and its impact to be able to utilize them correctly,” said Musleh. Internews is in the process of creating a multi-media curriculum that includes social media use to be taught as an elective course in Palestinian universities.
A roundtable discussion for Egyptian journalists was hosted by Internews in Cairo on March 7. In an article about the event, Egyptian newspaper Al Akhbar Newspaper, said that media professional Hafez AlMerrazi pointed out that the former regime had deprived the youth of using organized media. Therefore, they resorted to Internet and cell phones. “While we media professionals were sitting idly by, the youth were making real media, which we used to present in the big media. They did the whole job.”
Internews’ work in Tunisia is supported by the US Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Internews' work in Egypt and the West Bank/Gaza is supported by the US Agency for International Development.
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