this raises an interesting question

Beirut-based blogger, Razan Ghazzawi, discusses what blogs mean to the media landscape, for journalism and for the concept of free speech and democracy in the Middle-East.

 

BY RAZAN GHAZZAWI

 
BEIRUT, June 25, 2008 (MENASSAT) — I want to dispel misconceptions surrounding blogs and blogging in the Arab world. Misconceptions I consider to be the same (in the Arab world) as those surrounding the press, freedom and democracy.

In the media landscape, blogs have been allowed to fill some sort of media/content vacuum, and nowadays blogging is considered “alternative” media.

How the “official” or “independent” media has allowed for such a vacuum to exist is unclear to me? Nonetheless, blogging is alternative media and finding out why requires an evaluation – an evaluation of the role of journalism and the role of different forms of media.

If I am asked, I say that journalism, like the idea of truth, has become an industry, and not just an industry but monopolized by industry like other concepts such as freedom, freedom of speech and democracy – all of these things have been commodified.

I think the official media is a contradiction to the idea of a “free” media. Rather than a plurality of voices, it monopolizes the voices of the people. Slogans become stories in order to create one identity with the disguise of plurality.

The same polarity exists with the concept of “independent journalism” or “independent” media. In this case, it is reduced to one meaning: opposing the dictator, i.e. opposing the “official” media.

I often wonder whether society is simply following a new policy that says, “If I am of the opposition then I’m free?” Does freedom mean opposition only?

Blogging as what…?

Unfortunately, journalism has over the decades become a victim of reductive logic, in which it falls into the categories of “official” or “independent” journalism rather than old-fashioned journalism.

Here, I ask, is it good to consider blogging a function of alternative media alone? I mean, if the free press were an alternative to the official media, how would blogging be an alternative – an alternative for what specifically?

I personally object to using the word “alternative” to describe blogging or blogs, for the term itself suggests eliminating something in order to replace it with something else. What’s worse is that this has already happened and “alternative” has become part of the media lexicon without discussing the form of media it is replacing.