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Journalist Fellows' Papers

Social vs Traditional Media: The Tale of Egypt’s Sinai

Paper by RISJ Journalist Fellow


The 2013 return of  military rule in Egypt has ushered in the country's worst period of media censorship since last century. Among those worst hit by the constraints on media, whether conventional or digital, is the population of Egypt’s north Sinai, who are caught in the crossfire between resilient militants and the state's military.  This paper outlines how local netizens use social media to break a media gag on the region, which the state imposed as the military wages a years-long war on terrorists who have taken root there. With a focus on one incident of extrajudicial killing, the paper analyses how netizens' coverage outperformed local conventional media and their deployment of features on social media to chronicle updates. Through interviews, the paper shows the risks netizens take on their safety and lives to do the role of journalists, who have been blocked from the region since 2013. The paper also highlights how minorities’ hardships can be overlooked by global newsrooms focused on the bigger picture. It argues that, while social media can sometimes be problematic, these platforms offer the only options for some communities to use their voice.

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