Blogs provide room for independent Tunisian journalism

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Article Summary
In the wake of the Arab Spring, young journalists in Tunisia are relying on blogs to incubate their nascent industry.

Tunisian media is witnessing a growing trend with the amplification of media outlets in their various forms. What some describe as “media looseness” is, to the contrary, an indication of a shift from the era of oppression to the era of freedom — a normal state after any revolution.

Tunisia is no exception; it is going through the same experience as Egypt, Libya and other Arab countries. What some describe as an overdose of media freedom contributes to paving the road for developing journalism in Tunisia while helping residents of regions that are marginalized in the media to make their voices heard. It also helps the successive governments solve the residents' problems and contributes to the development of civil society by introducing associations and their activities, in addition to the provision of services to the people and local organizations.

The online magazine Tacapress is one of the most important new outlets. The magazine introduces itself on its WordPress blog as a “pan-electronic newspaper covering the news of south Tunisia and touching on domestic and international news from a local angle.”

Moaz al-Jamai, its founder, told As-Safir that this newspaper “is the result of a series of training sessions held by the Tunis Center for Press Freedom in cooperation with the International Cooperation Agency, inside and outside the country.” Jamai works for the unit that documents violence against journalists at the Tunis Center for Press Freedom.

“During the training, I studied thoroughly the principle of local journalism and received training about financial and administrative management of media institutions. Then, I was lucky enough to win the competition organized by the International Cooperation Agency for the best idea for a media project. The prize was continuous training under the supervision of Egyptian journalist and blogger Mina Mamdouh.”

During training with a local newspaper in Poland, Jamai learned how to specify his target group and the needs of his audience, which made it easier for him to form a group of volunteers including bloggers, journalists and technicians from different cultural and political backgrounds to create a blog together.

Tacapress comprises a homepage where news is posted and a page for data and reporting, in addition to a page for opinion articles, allowing journalists to express their opinions outside the margins set by mainstream media institutions. It also has a page for services offered to readers such as health, transportation, education and work opportunities. The most important page is that for “citizenship journalism,” which allows all citizens, mainly southerners, to post their articles and photos. The pieces submitted by citizens are subject to regulations set by professional ethics and respect for human rights.

Blogs in Tunisia are flourishing, and bloggers see in them a service offered to a whole generation of youth through journalism that not only express opinions, but also provides information. Bloggers and journalists believe that blogs or online newspapers are now one of the most important forms of journalism. Investing in a blog means that they have booked a place for themselves in the future.

Funding remains the primary obstacle in the way of developing Tacapress and other blogs that aspire to become online newspapers, even though international organizations concerned with journalism are increasingly oriented toward the cradle of revolution.

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Found in: tunisian revolution, press, journalists, journalism, freedom of press, blogging
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