Media Talk marking World Press Freedom Day: Blogging – Self-exposure or Self-expression?

Talk Thursday 3rd May, 2007

Political bloggers may share the media landscape with journalists but they don’t necessarily inhabit the same space – they live in an unregulated twilight zone where anything goes.

Join us as we discuss the role of blogging on World Press Freedom Day, weighing up whether political blogs are the only platform for meaningful critical discourse or whether they are digital narcissism, insular and error-ridden.

Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman recently became the first blogger to be jailed in Egypt for insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak making it clear that oppressive governments now monitor the web vigorously.

To date 60 “cyber dissidents” have been jailed, the majority of them in China according to a survey by Reporters Without Borders.

According to the PEW Internet & American Life Project only 34 percent of bloggers consider themselves journalists and 55 percent of them operate anonymously.

Very few them bother with such niceties as fact-checking.

So what is the role of blogging? Is it the voice of the future? Are bloggers filling in the gaps the mainstream media cannot address? And is anybody paying attention to what is being said?

Ben Hammersley is a photojournalist and the former multimedia reporter for the Guardian. Between 2004 and 2006, he built and maintained the weblogs of The Guardian, including Comment is free.

Kevin Marsh is the editor of the BBC College of Journalism. Prior to that he was the editor of BBC’s Today programme. Kevin Marsh blogs at

Ethan Zuckermann is the co-founder of Global Voices, a non-profit global citizens’ media project, which seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online. He blogs at

Ala’abdel Fattah the co-founder of the Egyptian blog manala. He also won the International Best of the Blogs Awards of Reporters without Borders last year.

Richard Gizbert is the presenter of The Listening Post on Al-Jazeera English.

The Listening Post examines how the news is covered by the media, looking at newspapers, radio, TV, blogs and podcasts world wide.