The political situation of many countries doesn’t allow much freedom of press; what gets printed is thoroughly watch-dogged. That’s kind of messed-up when you realize that the media is the one thing that keeps us connected and informed about the rest of the world.
I remember when I lived in Dubai, I saw journalists fearing to write about anything outside the standard protocol of the publication. I would get bored senseless reading the local publications and as a budding writer, would get itchy palms when some meaty news would come to me through the grapevine, that of course, would never see the day of light. Until we started blogging!
I think blogging has taken to new levels our insight into otherwise forbidden cultural information of cities. Secret Dubai Diary, UAE Prison blog (blocked in Dubai) and Neurotic Iraqi Wife, are some blogs I read for raw insight into lives of people and culture in these countries. Others such as Sex and Dubai and controversial Beijing blog of Zhao Jing have unfortunately now been shut down.
There was great story in the IHT recently about underground bloggers in Havana who are screaming out to let people know the realities of life in Castro’s city.
My only contribution to the free press cause is being part of Global Voices and Reporters Without Borders. Both blogs are fighting for freedom of press and doing their best to provide untainted feeds and news from around the world.
It takes solid guts to blog on the edge, as it could result in imprisonment and/or deportation. I don’t know if I’d have the balls.