April 19, 2012, 3:31 p.m.
The Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy has presented the new report "Digital Media in the Arab World One Year After the Revolutions" by Jeffrey Ghannam. This report looks to examine the media shift that is taking place in the Arab world. Likewise, it looks to explore the potential social media has for promoting greater freedom of expression and civic engagement in the region.
The year following the start of the Arab revolutions–in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and violent uprisings in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain–was followed by continued repression and threats to the exercise of free expression online and offline. But the year also saw great strides in the numbers of Arabs across the region turning to social media platforms and the ascendancy of online engagement. This report describes and analyzes the enabling of tens of millions of individuals–as well as established news outlets–to attract wide global followings with Facebook and Twitter updates and YouTube videos about rapidly changing events. The widely diverse and pluralistic online communities in the Arab world are creating and sharing content, casting into question the future of the many state-owned or self-censored media that provide less in the way of engagement that Arab audiences have come to expect.