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Syrian Blogosphere: Forum for Dialogue 12 يونيو 2011

Posted by mauriceaaek in الآن هنا.
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After years of being ignored by the press, Syrian bloggers find themselves in a unique position to influence national conversation.

By Maurice Aaek: Syria Today

It is true that Syrian bloggers are few compared to their Arab comrades. However, in the last year, they have managed to enlarge their audience significantly, and have become more influential.

The first Syrian blog, called The Damascene Blog, was created seven years ago and written in English. Arabic-language blogs began cropping up a few years later, spreading in 2007 and 2008, and the Syrian blogosphere emerged. Today, there are approximately 850 Syrian blogs, written in both languages, 300 of which are regularly updated.

Last year, if you asked any blogger about the impact of his or her blog on society, you would get the same answer: “Most readers are the bloggers themselves.” This is no longer the case. Bloggers have worked to enlarge their readership for the last three years, and now they have succeeded.

Many bloggers republish posts in different online media outlets. Some print outlets also take posts and republish them, while others write stories and reports about the trends of Syrian bloggers. In all these cases, Syrian bloggers have succeeded in linking themselves to the mass media and conveying the issues they care about to a wider audience.

In the last two years, bloggers inspired the press with campaigns that grabbed their attention. They publicised cultural, social and political campaigns on themes relating to Damascus, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, honour killings and environmental issues.

The Syrian blogosphere spurs more dialogue because it presents different points of view, and in many cases, opposing opinions. Sometimes, this conversation is productive, although occasionally it leads to aggressive and angry writing.

Both personal and public issues seem to be of equal interest to Syrian bloggers. Bloggers write about personal experiences, memories, poems, and their preferred lifestyles. The Arab uprisings in the region have also influenced Syrian bloggers, particularly the revolution lead by Egyptian youth movements. Many Syrian bloggers felt sympathetic towards the Egyptians and tried to support them in different ways. One Syrian blogger republished daily news about the revolution when the Egyptian authorities blocked local revolutionary websites, for instance, while another blogger posted daily the death toll during the uprising.

Others created a collective blog to republish news and articles about Egyptian youth activities. When Hosni Mubarak was ousted from the presidency, many young people in Syria shared in the Egyptians’ happiness.

The eruption of protests in Syria – due to the speed with which events developed, the fogginess of the overall picture, as well as ‘red lines’ and a lack of reliable information – triggered Syrian bloggers to take to social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It was difficult for bloggers to write balanced, well-analysed articles on their blogs initially, so they preferred social networking as a tool to share news and information quickly.

Syrian bloggers, however, returned to their sites once they had determined what they had to say. This was not because the big picture became clear, red lines eased or official media began providing balanced coverage, but rather was the result of bloggers’ growing ability to process what was going on. Bloggers were the first to publish a public call demanding an end to the violence. Dozens of bloggers posted this request in an open letter to all Syrians on March 19.

Bloggers’ reactions to recent events are diverse. Most condemn the violence, foreign interference and sectarianism, and agreed on the need for dialogue and more freedoms. They differed on whom to blame for the violence, the credibility of the official media, conspiracy theories, possible solutions and whether or not the government reforms are real.

Most important, however, is that blogging offers multiple and divergent views in contrast to the homogonous perspectives of local media – both official and private. Bloggers therefore have the unique potential to lead a modern national dialogue.

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Source: Syria Today Mag


					
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تعليقات»

1. rashafaek - 15 يونيو 2011

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