Saturday, June 18, 2005

WE ALREADY KNOW that blogs have become a powerful tool for ordinary people to write about news that the mainstream media isn't covering, as well as to analyze the way the MSM treats the stories it does cover.

What's new is that this is becoming a global phenomenon.

From Tashkent, to Timbuktu, to Tegucigalpa, global blogging is on the rise and now, a group of dedicated bloggers is working to ensure that those global voices are heard.

Called Global Voices the group and website grew out of a Harvard conference held last December.

It brought together bloggers from places like Iraq, Latvia, Malaysia and China.

Ethan Zuckerman is not just the co-editor of Global Voices, he is also a passionate and prolific blogger himself.

"What blogs are doing for the first time is letting people talk about what's going in their own universe, in their own local news, and get it out to a global audience," he says.

Inspired by these bloggers and their stories, Dr Zuckerman, set up the Global Voices website.

"It's our sincere hope that by attaching people and stories to issues and countries, we're going to have a real impact as far as getting people interested in stories that otherwise they may not pay attention to," he explains.

In many cases, blogging is the only way for the voices of professional journalists to be heard. In countries where newspapers are shut down and reporters jailed, blogs provide one of the few ways, if not the only way, to be a journalist.

Reporters Without Borders has selected seven such blogs for its first annual Freedom Blogs award.

They are:

Asia: Screenshots (Malaysia, published in English)
Joint winner Africa and Middle East: Shared Pains (Afghanistan, Farsi)
Joint winner Africa and Middle East: Al Jinane (Morocco, French)
Europe: ICT lex (Italy, Italian)
Americas: Press Think (US, English)
Iran: Mojtaba Saminejad (Iran, Farsi)
International: Netzpolitik (Germany, German)
Hat tip Susie Madrak.

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