At a recent briefing in Washington, members of the U.S. international press discussed the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, “new media” in the Middle East and where the credit lies.
Journalists from various outfits including Voice of America and Alhurra TV took part with other media people at a gathering sponsored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, with some claiming the revolutions would not have been possible without sites like Facebook.
According to the press release from the BBG, other presenters downplayed the importance of social media, including one standout remark from Global Voices founder Rebecca MacKinnon that “the Internet didn’t cause the revolution in Egypt, just as the printing press didn’t cause the American Revolution.”
MacKinnon went on to acknowledge that the site did enable “uncensored, unmanipulated conversations.”
These conversations and their implications on the future of media spurred the BBG gathering. As news about events like the riots in Tunisia increasingly come from more nontraditional sources, the international press must decide what passes muster.
At the forum, the International Broadcasting Bureau’s Ken Berman also revealed the organization’s latest tool in open communications called Feed over E-mail (FoE), which circumvents traditional filtering methods by means of data encryption and compression.