Monday, March 31, 2008

Prologue (AKA: What the hell is this all about!)

In less than a year since I moved from the Mother of The World to the Greatest City in The World©, my whole perception of my hometown Cairo, and consequentially its essential representation of Egypt, has morphed into a mere series of headlines attained sporadically through “The Calls.”

Of course, “The Call” is a familiar ritual for every Egyptian expatriate. With the Egyptian newspapers, and their websites, in a permanent freeze (in 8 months of passing by a newsstand that carries Al-Ahram here in New York, I wasn’t once hit by a headline that I couldn’t recall seeing –repeatedly– through the past 15 years), the only sources of information about El-Mahrousa are the emotionally charged, loud (don’t know why!) periodic, usually weekly, calls from family and friends back in Egypt. Between the usual chatter about family and in-laws, you can get a glimpse of life back home, which, let’s face it, doesn’t move that fast to start with.

To review what I knew about life in Egypt during the past year through these calls looks like an exercise in post modern Japanese haiku; totally abstract and bland. 2007-2008 goes something like that:

Gaza border breached,

Strikes everyday,

African Cup picked,

Inflation went up,

and Essam El-Hadry fled.

So, “The Cairo Calls” are actually my attempt to know more about what’s happening back home. I want you to tell me what’s happening, not the other way around. In a way, this is like an analysts’ call; I’ll try to spin something that I know nothing about, and you’ll just ridicule my assessment. I promise you it will be necessarily superficial, uninformed, and grossly oversimplified.

I don’t know why you would even want to read it!

1 comment:

Demotix said...

Demotix- The Citizen Wire

Dear The Cairo Calls,

You're site is fantastic. We hope you might see a cross over with what we're launching!

Demotix is a website for user-generated news, and a citizen ‘wire’ service. Think of it like Flickr or YouTube, but only for original photo/video news. You tell us what is going on, we tell the worldwide web and the world’s mainstream media. As of now, is live.

Why are we doing it?
We believe citizen journalism – well-managed – can be a tremendous force in political participation, civil society, and freedom of speech around the world. And we believe the media needs rescuing.

• Only four US newspapers have foreign news desks (the NY Times, LA Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal), and there are only 141 US foreign correspondents currently working today (in print and broadcast media)
• In the UK, a 2006 study of the broadsheets showed that more than 50% of the news was directly attributable to press releases
• The world’s media (over 90%) relies on the wire services – the Associated Press and Reuters – for their news. But some 80 countries, or 40% of the world’s nations, have no bureau from either agency.
The news is shrinking daily. We hope Demotix can plug that gap, and more.
We hope to be giving a megaphone to the man and woman in the street with a story to tell. We hope to be able to change the news map – bringing real, raw, original information from countries and about issues the mainstream media haven’t touched in years.

Eventually we hope that Demotix will be THE place where anyone in the world can go, in safety, to upload news – major, minor, local, cultural, political, social... We already have agreements with the Daily Telegraph, Newsweek, La Repubblica, Prospect and others – and will now supply them with a daily wire and picture feed of 'citizen' news. We have also built partnerships with Amnesty, Reporters Sans Frontieres, Witness and many others.

But we need your help. We want to do in pictures/video what you do for text. If you think there is a cross-over and you like us, please write about us, link to us, spread the news. We're nothing without contributors, and your readers are exactly whom we want to be reaching out to. We can get their news out to the world, and in the process change what news is reported. And we'll charge the mainstream media for anything they use, splitting the fees 50:50 with our contributors.

Please be in touch! Are there other ways we might collaborate?
With all thanks


Turi Munthe