“Information is Holy, and Comment is Free”May 17, 2008
25 Moroccan youth and 25 American youth met in the POMED and AID conference, “Find Your Voice: A Cross-Cultural Forum on Political Participation and Civic Activism”, which took place in The Moroccan Capital Rabat last Month. I was asked to share my experience as a young English-speaking blogger with the participants? So I’ve decided to tell them my story through 3 verbs:
When to the Moroccan Journalism School for the first time, the first thing I saw was a banner in the entrance wall with sentence “Information is holy, and Comment is Free”. This sentence haunted me for my 4 years in that school, until it became a part of who I am. Unfortunately, in everyday’s journalistic practice all the editors-in-chief I’ve worked with were hammering on me that my opinion doesn’t matter, and only pure information matters. After some years of swallowing my voice, I started believing that “Information is free” but “Comment is not free”. Therefore, I started looking for a way to express my voice.
In 2004, during one of the first blogging conferences in Morocco by Rachid Jankari, the first Moroccan blogger, I finally discovered the way to express my voice. That night I came home very excited, and created my first blog. It was the kind of blogs where you write your diaries and post poems and abstract photos. In 2006, I started my official blog “Words for change”, because I believe that my only weapon is my words and that by spreading the word it may change the world. Maybe I blog out of narcissism, maybe I blog out frustration, maybe I blog because I would like to share my thoughts, and tell the rest of the world about the place I live in and the problems people of my age face. In all cases, I think that blogging gave me back my voice and completed the other half of that old sentence “Comment is Free”.
We are 30 000 Moroccan bloggers today. Some blog in French, and they are stereotyped as being bourgeois blogging kids who went to French schools. And some blog in Arabic, and they are stereotyped as being Islamist radicals. In between there is some youth who blog in English, including me, who are stereotyped as being American spies. Well, the reality our diversity is a capital that make our strength, even if we aren’t organized as a community yet. Rachid Jankari described the Moroccan Blogosphere as being in its “Adolescence”, which make it unable to compete with classical Medias, and somehow unable to educate.
Few months ago, I became a youth ambassador within the Middle East Youth Initiative, which gave me the chance to act as a peer-educator with my blog posts. The MEYI was initiated by the Wolfensohn Centre for Development at Brooking and the Dubai School of Government, as to promote economic and social inclusion of youth in
the Middle East by creating an international alliance of academics, policymakers, youth leaders and leading thinkers from the private sector and civil society. With the MEYI, I realized how it’s difficult to educate, especially that I’m just a 23 years simple girl from the region. My work as a Youth Ambassador is about sharing my little experience as a young journalist, as a youth activist, and as a human being. And that’s the best part of it, because as human beings, my readers may reach a self-identification status, and that’s what may educate.
That’s my story. The story of a blogger who believes that words may bring change, so “spread the word, it may change the world”. That’s how I’ve found my Voice. I hope you’ll find yours!