Media @ McGill

Gretchen King

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Community Media Movements in the Middle East

Today in the Middle East, independent news reporting is becoming more diffused with independent papers like Al-Akhbar (a widely-read Arabic daily from Lebanon) and a plethora of satellite news channels (like Al Jazeera) now available to the public. Joining the Arabic media landscape are institutions and projects that produce alternative media in spaces that are separate from the state and private sectors. Since the summer of 2005, audiences living in the region of Amman (the capital of Jordan, home to more than two million people) have tuned-in to a different kind of radio station on the FM dial. "The Voice of the People and the Country" is the station identification of Radio Ballad, 92.4fm. The station is currently broadcasting community inspired media around-the-clock to Amman and the surrounding area, including over twenty programs offering daily community news, talk shows for teenagers, and music programs featuring emerging artists. Aside from community oriented programming, Radio Ballad also provides opportunities for citizens to participate in media production and ownership, from hosting programming to sitting on the station's Board of Directors. As the only community-operated radio station in the Arab world, Radio Ballad provides an unique research site for exploring community media practices in the region. The purpose of my study is to review community media practices in the Middle East, utilizing academic literature concerning social movements and media as well as extending the scope of scholarship on Arabic media to alternative media in the region. This inquiry will begin with a case study of Radio Ballad.