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M.Report S01E26 – Friends and an Interview with RSF

The last two days were very fruitful. I have had the privilege of interacting with an excellent group of people whose main concern is to share their views with the world, and expose the wrongs in their societies in order for those to be addressed and corrected. Although I cannot say that the correction has been effected by society and/or governments, but at least they have been brought out in the open and the hope is that they will be tackled, ultimately.

Today’s presentations were a bit more technical in nature where we discussed how to popularise your blog, how to use the available tools and sites to spread your message and how to monetise your efforts.

RSF's Clothilde Le Coz I also took the opportunity to interview Clothilde Le Coz, of RSF’s Internet Freedom Desk who shared her views and explained her role in the organisation. She also provided some insights on how RSF goes about its business.

Now that the formal part of the workshop is over, and the M.Report has been uploaded, it’s time to shower, change and go out to have dinner in the world famous Rick’s Café with some new and old friends. Should be quite fun!


M.Report S01E25 – The Intersection between Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media

M.Report S01E25 – The Intersection between Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media

This is my contribution to the journalism workshop I am attending at the moment where I was privileged to be on the panel discussing the intersection between the old and new media. On the panel with me were Emmabenji (, tunisia), Mohammed Zainabi (, morocco), Yazid Haddar (, algeria) and Daoud Kuttab (, jordan – visiting professor at Princeton Uni).

Considering that the basic human activity of communication, has been with us since the first human painted on cave walls, it’s surprising that when it comes to a modern activity of writing on a largely personal online diary, elicits such a need as to pigeon-hole people and their generated thoughts into categories such as “journalism” or any other adjectives.

This – I feel – has been given rise by society and maybe mainstream media in particular, to distinguish themselves as “the” source for news and valid opinion, while any other is simply invalid or at least less worthy of consideration.

History tells us that this is the same reaction when the radio first started its mainstream transmission with the reaction of newsprint, and also when television was first introduced and it received its fare share of ridicule by newsprint, radio and even the theatre!

Maybe by pigeon-holing, mainstream media think they can “wheedle out” the good from the bad, again thinking in that ubiquitous “black and white” methodology, a condescending approach by assuming that they alone can select what is good for us.

But with such a huge platform, it is impossible to apply these methods. Old metrics simply won’t do. What we have now is a huge crowd-sourced material, terabytes of information which is published every single day, and with the way that the fusion of communication methods currently experienced – text, audio, video, animation, and photographs – this trend will only escalate.

Yes, traditional media is supposed to have the safeguards to at least distinguish between fact and opinion, but in today’s connected world this is not so critical.

The point; therefore, is not simple to try to draw a line between a blog and main-stream media to achieve distinction and simple categorisation, but employ critical thinking and other skills to evaluate what is being presented, regardless of source.

What blogs provide is a huge base of crowd sourced information. Sifting through that information and evaluating it is not a small exercise, but categorising it with the old “journalistic standards” will not achieve much. We have to recognise that with this wealth of published information, decision makers have a new tool that they can employ which they never had access to before:

What we have now – thanks to the explosion of blogging – is an ocean of raw data, one if mined properly, could give them an excellent understanding of the feelings and needs of “normal people” – the street – that traditional media with its inbuilt sanitorial control could never give them.

How one uses that facility, it is up to them.


Bahrain in the news

Two pieces of international news are hitting our screens regarding Bahrain that deserve a mention: The first is that Bahrain has been elected once again to the Human Rights Council – congratulations! The other is that it has slipped 9 places in this year’s Global Peace Index – commiserations.

The first, though welcome news, needs to be followed up immediately by the government and parliament with concrete steps and actions in order to institute the required changes in our laws and legislation to rise to the level of Bahrain’s legal international commitments. Some of those require changes to our constitution, election laws, and instituting new laws to criminalise discrimination in all its forms. If and when these things happen, Bahrain will become a peace of Heaven for everyone who lives in it, and should make it proud to occupy such an exalted seat.

The worrying part in this is not about Bahrain, but the council itself. I’m not sure if the metrics used to elect members to the HRC conducive to the propagation of human rights globally as some of those elected are clearly not worthy of even being considered to that illustrious panel, one which has been presumably been created to ensure that human rights abuses do not go unpunished. I am quite certain that many will raise their eyebrows when they hear that countries like Pakistan and Gabon, amongst others, have been elected to it. I might even go as far as suggesting the renaming of the Human Rights Council to a currently more appropriate Human Rights Abusers Council.

global peace index 2008 mapThe second piece of news worth noting is that Bahrain has regressed once again in the world’s perception by 9 whole places, while our compatriots in the Gulf did not fair as badly. Even Saudi’s descent has not been as far as that experienced by Bahrain.

The criteria that the report uses is quite exhaustive, but although a lot of it is subjective, the basis on which it was drawn is solid; hence, this report and its ramifications should be taken seriously and steps must be enacted in order for us to overcome the outlined shortcomings.

Maybe the pending creation of a national human rights organisation at the parliament is one way to go, another is to have the political will and courage to effect anti-discrimination measures – rather than categorically denying their evident existence. Instituting a national reconciliation program to finally put the past behind us will also be much welcome and will go a long way at ameliorating the national conscience.

If these things are considered and enacted, I am fairly certain that all of these detrimental reports will be just another part of our collective history, one we can proudly look back on, because we will have proven to ourselves first and the world too that we can learn from our mistakes and have the courage and determination to rise above them.


M.Report 23 – Thoughts on sporting events in Bahrain

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Volleyball Championship final match between Al-Nasr and Busaiteen last weekend which we were invited to shoot for Riffa Views, one of our clients. I get to amplify a bit on my feelings on that night, and also share with you some of the footage that we took which I hope you will enjoy or at least immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the night.

I really look forward to actually attend more of these sporting functions which I hope that they are as fun as this one!


M.Report S01E22 – Mahmood’s Den new skin!

It’s been a long time that I was just itching to change the theme of my blog. I think it has outgrown the “traditional” blog a long time ago. I not only post in text, but have regular features of pictures, audio podcasts as well as video content.

I am happy that I found the theme on which I can build to make it mirror more of what Mahmood’s Den has become.


M.Report S01E21 • The Amaryllis

I love flower bulbs, they have some of the most beautiful flowers and are relatively easy to grow and care for. What’s more is that once the season is over, you can just take them out of the ground, clean them up, dry them and store them for the next season. What’s more, some bulbs actually produce more baby bulbs to reward you for an even bigger show in the next season.