Before this semester, I had never posted on a blog before and I knew very little about the Arab world. With that said, I have since learned a lot about Arab culture, society, and technology and media in the region. I think everyone should take a media class like this before they graduate and I’m glad I had the opportunity to. Posting blog entries kept me up to date with news on Arab media and culture all semester. In doing this, I realized that media is one of the most positive aspects of Arab culture portrayed in the news. From my classmates’ posts, I began to see that technology and social media is what can develop the Arab world into a more positive place for its people. Many of the stories posted showed examples of how media is helping people throughout the Arab world to learn and express themselves freely – an opportunity they didn’t previously have. I also read many stories that demonstrated how media has been used to fight for justice and new ways it is being used to do this. The blog posts told stories of how Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and all forms of technology are being used in new innovative ways to unite the Arab region, as well as the world.
While many of the posts were about how media is enabling the arab world to learn, express, and share ideas and beliefs, there were also many posts about conflict and controversy. Some of the conflict itself centered around the use of online media by journalists and activists, while others simply used online media to show controversy occurring in the region. Like always, with push for societal change comes new problems and conflicts. However, now, unlike any other time before, people of the Arab world have the tools to stand up for their rights and the rights of others, as we have seen in many of the blog posts.
Much of the conflict and controversy we saw in blog posts this semester was from government in the Arab world. Countless blogs this semester centered around the government trying to constrain the freedoms of its people. There has been violence, cruelty, and human rights violations against the people of the Arab world that we only know about because of social media and technology. Thanks to social media and the internet, those events have been broadcasted on a global scale where those in the wrong can be held accountable for their actions. Stories of the many journalists who were wrongfully imprisoned, and activists who were brutalized for standing up for their beliefs, were not forgotten but instead shared and remembered. Instead of being silenced, their stories were heard.
Often, in mainstream American media, we only see protest and riots – but not the reasoning behind it. Through this blog, I have seen, as I’m sure my classmates have as well, that the majority of violence in the Arab world is in fact based on ideas we support: freedom, justice, and equality.
With that said, the final theme I saw in blog posts this semester was the importance of representation in media. How Americans portray Arabs, how Arabs portray Americans, how Arabs portray government officials, how opinions are portrayed, and many other examples, are all important in media and important in relationships. Our relationship with the Arab world, our relationship with Arab Americans, the Arab citizens’ relationship with their government, and freedom in the Arab world – depend on interpretations. True to life portrayals in the media are what journalism is about and will lead to good relationships. Though, this semester I learned that, in my opinion, there truly is no such thing as unbiased journalism. There will always be some aspect of media in society that someone is not happy with. But, thats ok when we trust that media gives us the opportunity to respond, discuss, counter and debate freely.