In time of online revolution, a printed magazine plays an important role in bridging the gap between the Egyptian blogsphere and public opinion leaders who are not familiar with blogging.
Bridging the gap between two generations who use completely different media as a mean of communication was the main reason behind publishing “Wasla”, literally translates to “linkage”, a monthly print magazine by the Egyptian-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and funded by Open Society Institute.
The magazine, broadening the form of citizen journalism in Egypt, is acting like a print mirror to what’s happening in the online world publishing stories already published in various blogs whether political, social or internet-related content providing links to original stories on blogs.
“The idea was to bring the blogosphere to the old generation who isn’t familiar with the new media and can’t follow us on the internet, there was a missing link and Wasla came to fill it”, Ahmed Nagi, Wasla’s Blogger in Chief, said.
Since the publisher is a human rights organization, most stories are focused on political issues but some blog stories may appear shocking to Egyptian readers like Mara’a Methleya (Lesbian woman) or ordinary stuff like a social analysis of Abo el-Leef who is a new singing phenomena.
Among the community leaders who praised the magazine which acts as a meeting point between two generations were Gamal el-Ghitany editor in chief of Literature magazine, famous political writers as Salah Issa, Fahmy Howeidy, Ibrahim Issa and Media professors in Cairo university and American University in Cairo, Gamal Eid, ANHRI Director, said.
“We publish blogs as they were written, we don’t change in the language used which we know that it may be different than ours but it’s how bloggers express themselves and they have the right to do this the way they want”, Eid noted.
Wasla also aims at widening the blogosphere community by spreading the concept of blogging. ANHRI publishes a thousand copy each month of which 600 are sent to a list of public opinion leaders including political and media figures, intellectuals and activists while the rest are supposed to be distributed in bookstores for free.
Although there were other trials in the past to publish blogs in print but they all failed as Wael Abbas, Prominent Egyptian blogger, says. Some newspapers like el-Dostor and el-Masry el-Youm used to publish a variety of blogs after making some editorial amendments which the bloggers didn’t like.
Acknowledging he’s not active in blogging as in the past, Wael justified this saying the political life is stagnant nowadays so there are no stories to cover in addition to some personal problems he’s facing which pushed him towards micro blogging on Twitter.
The well known Egyptian blogger is doing a mixture between journalism and activism, he said.
“Blogging in Egypt is currently not at its best time since bloggers are discriminated against, not allowed to travel and even imprisoned in some cases. We now have 3 bloggers in prison”, Abbas added.
When blogging started in Egypt, the authorities thought that internet cannot be used for political purposes or for organizing protests but it was proved wrong. When bloggers succeeded in rallying hundreds of people in different events, blogs were regarded as a danger, Abbas explained.
“While there are some professional blogs that fall under the citizen journalism category, blogging can only continue as spontaneous as it is relying on networking not on systematic basis”, Abbas noted.
50 Editions only
However, the project has enough funds for only 50 editions which means that the Network has to find another organization to guarantee financial security given that the magazine is free and the cost of each copy is about 4 Egyptian Pounds (0.5 Euro). “We discussed the issue with Hisham Kassem considered to be one of the prominent publishers in Egypt”, Eid added.
Putting in mind that some Egyptian bloggers prefer to write in English, Wasla singled out two pages out of 16 to English blogging and one page for cartoons.
“We’re in contact with “Kotob Khan” and “Wust el-Balad” bookstores and we want to reach news stands.. we will hopefully expand our audience soon, maybe then we can make the magazine a bi-weekly”, Nagi added.
You can check Wasla magazine at the following url: