Growing Independent Voices after the Arab Spring

The newspaper where Lina Attalah was working went under at the worst possible time. It was April 2013, and Egypt was at a crossroads. So she rallied former colleagues to establish a new, independent outlet. They called it Mada Masr — the first word means “range” or “span” in Arabic, and the second “Egypt.” On June 30 that year, the website launched to cover the mass protests against Morsi, whom Egyptians were angry with for trying to force through an Islamist constitution by presidential decree and for the chaos in the streets and a slumping economy. Three days later, on July 3, a military coup deposed Morsi and opened the door for Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s authoritarian rule. Egypt was now deeply divided, but Mada Masr continued reporting with balance. “At the time, many media outlets had taken steps back in terms of reporting accurately and with integrity,” says Attalah, now 36. “I thought Mada Masr was going to serve as an important record of the history of the country.”Six years later, Attalah is the chief editor of Egypt’s only independent media outlet, with 124,000 followers on Twitter and 241,000 on Facebook. But Mada Masr isn’t alone. It’s among a growing number of independent Arabic digital outlets that are emerging as fresh sources of news in a region where tyrants and oligarchs have for decades controlled the media. The next challenge for outlets like 7iber and Mada Masr is to expand beyond their core followers of young progressive millennials and activists.SOURCE: OZY

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