My thanks to Dr. Khalid Mohammed Ghazi, editor of the Cairo-based Arab Press Agency, for citing some of my work in his editorial, صحافة المواطن.. غائبة عن الصحافة العربية (Citizen Journalism…Absent from the Arab Press), published on Wednesday in, among other newspapers, Al Shabiba of Oman. [Click the English title of his essay to read a Google machine translation of the Arabic original].
As Dr. Ghazi writes, Citizen Journalism is hugely missing from the Arabic speaking world! He notes Al Jazzera’s efforts to introduce it, using online and cable television broadcasts (the latter similar to CNN’s i-Report project), but that Arabic printed media lags far behind, even in Arabic countries where government regulation of media isn’t that big a problem. He writes:
“We believe that citizen journalism may have added a new dimension to the news process, allowing the average citizen a sense of the journalist and the curiosity and motivation to become a participant and an architect and not just the quest for truth only; but that citizen journalism in the world still faces some criticism in relation to the accuracy of news put forward through it.”
Arabic is the first language of nearly a quarter billion people and the official language of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps one reason for the low adoption of citizen journalism there is that Internet penetration is still relatively low, estimated at 29% (3.3% of the world’s Internet users). However, those percentages should rise this decade, and I hope that citizen journalism will become a staple of many Arabic countries’ media.