Arab Bloggers Meet to Discuss Free Speech, Reject ‘Journalist’ Label
The First Arab Bloggers Meeting in Beirut, covered by Jessica Dheere, illuminated many important truths in regards to bloggers and their work. “Morocco has 30,000 bloggers; Facebook is blocked in Tunisia; photojournalists help Egyptian bloggers by passing along outtakes,” etc, etc. It’s compelling that despite the tapestry of problems that Arab countries continue to face, bloggers living under these repressive regimes continue to fight for free speech and human rights. Blogs have continuously been a space to discuss these issues, and though the blogosphere is limitless, there is sense of unanimity between these bloggers.
The blogosphere is not a safe space, it’s a space that can land you in prison, or worse. Bloggers express how they are already prisoners because they live under these repressive regimes, but despite these difficulties, they continue to instigate for change. In a sense these bloggers act as journalists, by covering all aspects of repressiveness in Arab countries, and yet they refuse to be called journalists. I agree with their rejection of the “journalists” label because as opposed to actual journalists who simply report, bloggers are immersed and active. Bloggers are essentially societal and political activists, they are the ultimate “instigators of change.” In short, in the readings and in class, there is a constant reiteration of how important of a role bloggers play, which I completely agree. As Jessica Dheere concluded, the more they write and blog, the more their acts are “speaking truth to power.”
Mapping the Arabic blogosphere: politics and dissent online
The above map illustrates a network map of the Arabic blogosphere with each dot representing a blog. The article, “Mapping the Arabic blogosphere: politics and dissent online,” illustrated the idea of a “networked public sphere,” which was proposed by Yochai Benkler. In short, Benkler’s “network public sphere,” refers to an online space which has gone from being dominated by the government/elite, to being a space that has a sense of freedom in which where “members of society can cooperate, exchange political opinions and observations, and collaborate as watchdogs over powerful social institutions.”