Media, especially the new media, is a crucial political and social networking tool that constitutes a potent element in shaping the culture, our lifestyles, and even the foreign policies. Political parties, social movements, religious organizations, and even extremist groups were quick to make use of this new information and communication media, the social media. Given its present day significance in international politics, its impact seems uncertain in the Arab world since the Arab world lags behind most of the rest in the world in using the internet. The “Arab Knowledge Report 2009: Towards Productive Intercommunication for Knowledge” indicated that there were only 10 internet users per thousand of population in 2006 each in Yemen and Djibouti, 30 in Mauritania, 70 in Algeria, 80 in each Egypt and Syria, and 90 in Sudan …etc

Where do Arabs stand in relevance to use of new media? In my project “What does New Media mean to you?”, I’m going to interview three Lebanese people of different professions and age groups to see whether new media is part of their daily lives and their uses of it.

What make the use of the internet somewhat difficult in the Arab world are censorship and the tightened governmental controls. For instance, Facebook was banned in Iran and Syria. The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (Samir Kassir Eyes) has issued its annual report on the issues related to the freedom of the media and culture, which the center monitored in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan in 2009. The report indicated that the media and cultural scene in Lebanon in 2009 was characterized by a mass layoff of journalists and that the Lebanese culture is still in the crosshairs of censorship. In my project, I’m going also to ask the interviewees about whether censorship of new media is an issue to them and what they are doing about it (if they have faced any situation like this).

The interviewees are:

–          Dr. Ahmad Shatila, 47 years old. He is a pediatrician and has a big family. He has a teenage girl Tala, 14 years old, Dana of 8 years old, adorable TRIPLET aged 6 years old, Yasmeen, Farah, and Mohammad, and the cute Tarek aged 4 years old! I chose him because first I would like to know how parents guide their children in using the new media. He has a facebook account and an iphome and he is aware of the new media.

 I would like also to ask him:

1- On the scale from 1-10, how do you rate your new media’s (i.e using facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr…) online activity?

2- How has the new media affected your profession?

3- Do you prefer getting the news from new media sources or from traditional media outlets?

4- Do any of your children use the new media? If yes, do you monitor them?

5- Do you think that one’s privacy is vanishing with the new media?

 

–          Caroline Hodroj, in her early twenties, is a journalism student at LAU. I chose her because she is in the field of media and she prefers getting the news from new media sources and internet rather than watching T.V. (Just found out that she likes the new media but prefers getting the news from traditional media outlets)

I would like to ask her:

1- On the scale from 1-10, how do you rate your new media’s (i.e using facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr…) online activity?

2- How has the new media affected your academic and social life?

3- Do you prefer getting the news from new media sources or from traditional media outlets?

4- Do you think that one’s privacy is vanishing with the new media?

5- Do you feel that there are certain limitations to your online activity and presence? What do you think about new media censorship? Does it exist?

–          Tala Bekdash, 8 years old. She had a facebook account when she was only 7 years old. She sneaks into her living room where the computer is and starts downloading games from the internet.

Tala Bekdash

I would like to ask her:

1-      How many hours do you spend using the internet/new media (facebook…) per day?

2-      Do your parents sit with you when you use facebook or when you download games?

3-      Do you prefer calling your friends by phone or chatting online?

4-      Do you face any privacy issues? Do your parents stalk you?

5-      How did your use of facebook affect your relations and communication with others?

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