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A 'Gay Girl in Damascus', the Mirage of the 'Authentic Voice' - and the Future of Journalism

Keeble, R. & J. Mair (eds.), MIRAGE IN THE DESERT? REPORTING THE ARAB SPRING, (Abramis, 2011), pp. 187-195

9 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2012  

Daniel Bennett

University of Sussex; War Studies Department, King's College London

Date Written: October 1, 2011

Abstract

In the 21st century journalists are making judgements, usually at speed, about whether to trust the identity of a “real” person through their “virtual” representation. In order to maintain their cultural dominance over the representation of reality and their role in making sense of the world, journalists and news organisations have thus far reiterated their commitment to traditional practices of fact-checking and verification.

This article demonstrates, however, that traditional journalistic practice was not sufficient to spot the Gay Girl in Damascus hoax - a fake blog set up in Syria during the 'Arab Spring'. Instead, it was the adoption of a networked approach to journalism that ultimately uncovered the author, Tom MacMaster.

The article shows that increasingly, understanding and representing reality requires a “mutualistic interaction” between traditional news organisations and the new models of journalism, enabling us to identify, hear and amplify the “authentic voices” calling for political and social change around the world.

Keywords: journalism, media, Arab Spring, verification, blogging, social media

JEL Classification: L82

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Daniel, A 'Gay Girl in Damascus', the Mirage of the 'Authentic Voice' - and the Future of Journalism (October 1, 2011). Keeble, R. & J. Mair (eds.), MIRAGE IN THE DESERT? REPORTING THE ARAB SPRING, (Abramis, 2011), pp. 187-195 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2035022

Daniel Bennett (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

War Studies Department, King's College London ( email )

United Kingdom

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