Checkdesk – Developing Citizen Journalism in the Arab Region
Tom Trewinnard – Research and Communications Manager, Meedan – January 17, 2013
The Arab spring can be seen as product of a rapidly changing information ecosystem: With the advent of social media, authoritarian states lost the ability to stifle dissenting narratives of election fraud, corruption, police brutality, and protest. The growing dissonance between state media and coverage by citizen journalists and an increasingly bold private media, and the resulting outrage at cases such as those of Khaled Said, Mohammed Bouazizi, and Egypt’s farcical 2010 parliamentary election made societal change and reform inevitable.
Although across the Arab region authoritarian regimes have fallen or reluctantly embraced reform, the multi-faceted legacy of decades of authoritarianism remains: Undeveloped media literacy in the Middle East is impeding the ability of the citizen, and especially the young citizen, to sort fact, opinion and rumor, make informed choices, and hold their governments to account (Saleh, 2009) (Townson, 2012). The 2011 uprisings demonstrated how digital media can provide an effective channel for dissent but, in this critical phase of constitutional and governmental transition citizens need support to nurture transparency and accountability through evidence-based journalism and to democratize political communication. In response to these needs, Meedan has sought to develop open source tools for newsrooms that encourage journalists, citizen journalists and media consumers to collaborate in asking questions of media, to check the credibility of citizen and mainstream sources, and to acknowledge and propagate the best and most accurate journalistic reporting.
 Interview with media literacy expert Magda Abu-Fadil.
Read the full report in PDF form here.