It’s been the topic of speculation for quite some time but today more than ever before, news networks and press agencies are turning their heads towards blogs and independent news and media sites. Mondoweiss is a case example.
On Friday, June 1, Mondoweiss ran a report about Sandra Tamari’s latest experience in Israel. She had been detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport a week ago and was questioned for hours on end before being deported back to the United States. During the ordeal, interrogators demanded access to her personal email account. Tamari, a Palestinian-American Quaker and U.S. citizen, requested help from the U.S. Embassy but after being asked whether or not she was Jewish, Embassy chose not to assist her.
Mondoweiss followed up on the story the very next day with a personal account of two other American citizens who were also invasively interrogated. The narrative revealed that Israeli security forces demanded Najwa Doughman allow interrogators into her email account. The interrogates “sifted through [Doughman’s] inbox . . . sarcastically reenacting and mocking old Google Chat conversations” and searching for keywords like “Israel”, “International Solidarity Movement”, and “West Bank”.
Doughman and her travel partner Sasha Al-Sarabi were deported back to the United States the following morning.
But the story doesn’t end there. Just days after Mondoweiss broke these stories, the Associated Press picked it up and repackaged it under the headline “Israel asks Arab visitors to open emails to search”.
The AP article sheds a spotlight on Tamari’s ordeal and quotes directly from Mondoweiss’s report on Doughman’s experiences. The comprehensive piece has since been published by the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, and FOX News.
At this year’s Google Zeitgeist conference, former Al Jazeera producer and current Huffington Post columnist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin spoke about citizen journalism and its growing effect on mainstream media. He drew attention to the emergence of independent blogs as a crucial medium for reportage, one that expands the depth of today’s journalism and “democratizes” the discourse. Mondoweiss helped present the real news.
It is important to note that had Tamari, Doughman, or Al-Sarabi remained silent about their grueling experiences under interrogation, Mondoweiss wouldn’t have had any stories to run. And had Mondoweiss not helped push the narratives to a wider public, the Associated Press wouldn’t have had a story to put on the wire.
Let this encourage everyone to share their stories—good or bad—because, for now at least, this might be the only efficient way to publicly document injustice. Let this also encourage Mondoweiss to continue opening doors for blogs and independent news sources by maintaining their high standards in covering much of what isn’t seen on the nightly news.