Middle East: Webcams Now Weapons of Mass Communication

by Caitlyn Christensen    /  November 30, 2011  / No comments

Via a new citizen website, TalkBackTV MidEast, bloggers and activists in the Middle East can now openly criticize televised news. The site allows individuals to publish video commentary in split-screen, alongside video of the original news story. Although in its infancy, TalkBackTV MidEast is already facilitating the free exchange of ideas, allowing citizens with on-the-ground experience to contribute to news reports, question media coverage, and lampoon politicians.

Young TalkBackTV users in action

Photo: Young TalkBackTV users in action

TalkBackTV began in the United States as a place for people who liked yelling at their televisions to share the screen with pop culture figures like Oprah and Bill O’Reilly. In both branches of the site viewers pick a clip from a media database, record their rants on web cam, and publish the resulting split-screen video.

The Middle Eastern branch was launched in June; the first video posts went up in September. Since then users have published responses to news reports covering the Arab revolutions, Egyptian elections, and Qaddafi’s death, among other stories. TalkBackTV MidEast says its mission is to promote freedom, democracy, transparency, and human rights in countries where criticizing the government can be considered a crime against the state.

TalkBackTV MidEast says it advocates a community built on “resistance, intelligence, dialog and honesty.”

A user criticizes the “backwardness” of women being granted suffrage in Saudi Arabia before they can drive themselves to the grocery store:

The hypocrisy of Qaddafi’s death:

The death of Essam Attah:

About the Author

Caitlyn Christensen is an alumna of the University of Pittsburgh’s writing program. She completed an editorial internship with Sampsonia Way in 2011. Her essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, and her writing has appeared in places like Gigantic Sequins, Diagram, and Columbia Journal. Caitlyn joined Sampsonia Way‘s staff in 2014.

View all articles by Caitlyn Christensen

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