Working under pressure

Journalism isn’t an easy job anywhere in the world, but in some parts of the world, it’s downright dangerous. Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger, and May Thingyan Hein, a Burmese freelance reporter, have both pushed the limits in their countries by writing about controversial topics at a time when fellow journalists are being censored and jailed. They are the recipients of this year’s Knight International Journalism Awards.

Abbas has broken stories on his Arabic-language blog about police brutality and sexual harassment, forcing the mainstream media to follow up. He’s been able to get photos and video from people with digital cameras and mobile phones, because he says that people in Egypt trust bloggers more than the government-controlled media.

When they have something exclusive they send it to blogggers because they trust that we will publish it. Supporting stories with pictures and video makes it more credible, makes people believe what’s going on…I published video of abuses inside a police station and now we have hard evidence.

The government is now cracking down on bloggers, one of whom is serving a four-year jail term for “insulting Islam and insulting the President.” Abbas himself has been arrested, interrogated and beaten. But he says he’ll keep going. “I want my country to change, to have real democracy, not the charade we have now.”

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this great post. Wael and May are extraordinary journalists who understand the duty of journalists to support their communities with quality information and passion for the truth. If anyone is interested in seeing photos of the awards dinner last night, we will have them online on Friday. Until then, we have speech transcripts and some videos coming today.

  2. Update: YouTube has suspended Abbas’s account based on violations of their terms of use (no graphic or gratuitous violence). For more details and reaction, see http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/11/youtube_suspends_egyptian_blog.html

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