Tired of the same old news sources?
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one day this week reading through tweets about world issues, in particular recent conflicts in the Middle East. I found a lot of the news agencies I follow, BBC, The Age, The Australian, The Washington Post to name a few, were all offering very similar perspectives on these events in the Middle East. It got me thinking about my news sources, are my sources providing me with multiple voices or essentially similar voices on multiple platforms?
The aspiring journalist in me found this question curious. Regardless of the amount of time a foreign correspondent has spent in a country, their reporting is centered in western journalistic practices and they will, naturally, report the latest news with a western voice. A voice that currently dominates global news networks.
With this in mind, I took a step back from traditional news media and plunged into the blogosphere to find local Middle Eastern voices to offer me alternative voices on current news events and beyond. During my search for alternative perspectives, I found others who were blogging about the lack of voices in global news media. One of those people is Australian and international journalist, Antony Loewenstein. In his book “The Blogging Revolution” , Loewenstein discusses blogging in repressive regimes which are leading the way for change as well as how western multinationals are contributing to the restriction of information in these countries.
Through the blogosphere, I got in touch with Antony and we had a very interesting chat about this topic.
Loewenstein emphasizes other voices in western news media are essential when reporting global news especially in dangerous parts of the world, like areas in the Middle East.
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“Some areas in certain countries are too dangerous for foreign journalists to go into, we rely on locals, who take extreme risks, to report, or blog, or tweet, news,” Loewenstein said.
Unfortunately, the voice of local reporters in the Middle East are drown out too often in western news media. This in turn Loewenstein said in resulting in the western news media “failing to accurately portray the news”.
“You’ll see a byline by a western journalist (about a story in the Middle East), but there’s a lot of work behind it from other journalists, Iraqi, Saudi … sometimes they are mentioned, sometimes they aren’t for security reasons… the western journalist comes across then as the journalist hero reporting in this area,” Loewenstein said.
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The barrier of language is one of the big contributors muting other voices in global news media. Loewenstein said while there are online translating tools, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“There’s Global Voices online, translating tools which translate news stories and blogs from the Middle East into English. They are helping to bridge these (language) gaps in the internet, a lot more needs to be done … Journalists need to be more willing to listen to people who don’t speak English … it’s a real problem for us in the west,” Loewenstein said.
In his own journalistic practice, Loewenstein has adopted different ways of getting around the language barrier.
“Some areas in certain countries are too dangerous for foreign journalists to go into, we rely on locals, who take extreme risks, to report, or blog, or tweet, news,” Antony Loewenstein.
“I cut and copy the content from some Middle Eastern blogs into word and translate it into English from there,” Loewenstein said.
Even so, Loewenstein said the language barrier is “no excuse” for journalists to increase their collaboration with non-western journalists and news agencies.
“With all the online tools available, there is no excuse for journalists to seek out different perspectives about news events … Journalists need to build up sources in all sorts of different countries, whether it be via blogging, tweeting or Facebook messaging,” Loewenstein said.
To finish of this week’s post, here are a few of Antony’s go-to’s for other perspectives about news and life in the Middle East (I’ve chucked a few of my new found favorites in there as well!). These great blogs, twitter feeds and websites will provide you with local knowledge, a fresh perspective and an authentic flair that a foreign correspondent can’t provide in a three minute news report. Enjoy!
The Electronic Intifada
Describing herself as “just Egyptian girl who lives in the present with the glories of the past and hopes in a better future for herself and for her country”, Zeinobia witty chronicles of cultural and political news throughout the Middle East make for an edgy and refreshing blog to add to your daily reading.