One Year of 7iber

الأحد 25 أيار 2008

Written By Lina Ejeilat

It was one year ago, on Jordan’s Independence Day, that we officially launched 7iber dot Com. Many a time in the past year, we stopped to look at what it is we were trying to do and how well ideas were translated into actions and results. That’s an ongoing process. But given the way we humans like to give certain significance to “breaking points” on a timeline, this one-year anniversary is a good chance to share some questions and reflections.

What is 7iber?

We often tell people that it’s an experiment with “citizen journalism”. We say we want to offer an alternative source of local news and insights, building on the power and authenticity of blogs, and combining that with journalism standards that ensure credibility, quality, and consistency.

While that can sound heavy on buzz words, the idea was quite simple. We felt the local mainstream media was missing out on a lot of interesting news and ideas. The only English-language mainstream media outlet with some online presence was the Jordan Times. Some blogs were attracting a lot of readers who were genuinely curious and eager to find a different voice on local issues. The number of blogs was increasing exponentially and it was getting increasingly difficult to keep up and filter out the good stuff. There are some basic standards of proper journalism practice that bloggers are often too oblivious to.

Before launching 7iber, we spent months brainstorming and putting together a proposal in order to get some funding. A lot of energy went into trying to write what potential funding bodies want to hear and to explain what we wanted 7iber to be. But then someone said to us “you should just do it”.

So we did.

We’re a small team of three people, Ramsey, Naseem, and myself. Each one of us is in one way or another involved in journalism as well as blogging. The past year has not been a bright one for media in Jordan; the ATV fiasco, the Audio Visual Commission taking Radio Al-Balad to court, the government refusing to license a community radio in Zarqa, the Press and Publication Department trying to extend its jurisdiction to cover online media, and five journalists sentenced to jail. It’s been grim to say the least.

As a journalist, I often find that access to information (or lack thereof) is one of the main hurdles that prevent me from doing my work. Yet too much regulation, lack of transparency, and red lines are not the only challenges the media faces.

There’s a lot of self-censorship. There’s a lack of investigative journalism. There’s a disconnect between the audience and the available media.

This is where we wanted 7iber to come in; to engage the audience – the citizen – in writing the news, in commenting on the news, and in bringing out stories that do not find their way to the mainstream media.

We want to create a dialogue in which anyone and everyone can partake. 7iber is not meant to be about three people or four people or 20 people running some show. It’s about creating a community of citizen journalists.

We’ve found some enthusiastic support over the past year. I must admit I love it when someone gives me a lead to a potential story or interview with 7iber on their mind rather than the magazine I work for. We’ve also had some wonderful contributors regularly sending us articles and photos covering topics they’re directly exposed to, and doing it on a purely volunteer basis.

Ideally, we want to be able to get more writers involved, and we want to be able to do more in depth features and investigations. As Naseem pointed out earlier, that requires time and money, with time often being the more determining factor.

Blogging in the region has been attracting a lot of attention from researchers and reporters. We’re often asked what we think of the impact of blogging, how much it’s pushing the envelope, and what kind of censorship it faces. A while back, I used to believe that low internet penetration is one of the main factors limiting the impact of online media in Jordan. Now I’m not so sure that’s the case, because even if the number of people who have home subscriptions is very small, more access is becoming available at universities, schools, and community centers. It’s not access that’s the problem. It’s knowing what you can do with this access. Over the past three years, the number of blogs has increased exponentially, but has the quality improved significantly? Have we pushed the envelope further? Have we tested the limits of what we can do with this extremely powerful medium?

More questions to ponder as we start a new year of 7iber. It’s an evolving journey of ideas. What we want to do is a lot more than what we’ve done so far.

We would really appreciate it if you take a few minutes of your time and answer this short survey to help us in this process of evaluation and planning ahead.

Click here to answer the survey.

Happy Independence Day Jordan!

 لتصلك أبرز المقالات والتقارير اشترك/ي بنشرة حبر البريدية

Our Newsletter القائمة البريدية