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Maghreb Bloggers Meet in Rabat

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This is not my first visit to Morocco or to Rabat. I, of course, always enjoy my stay here. This time I'm here for a training workshop intended for bloggers. I'm joined by colleagues from Search for Common Ground and a Moroccan colleague from Oklahoma University and another Moroccan colleague who's an expert on blogs. My expectations... Well I wasn't sure about the level of bloggers participating in this session. From my experience, participants often have contrasting levels and experiences. But this time I found homogeneity and people very passionate and dedicated to the issue at hand. People were responsive, proactive and dynamic and I feel that bloggers have acquired new skills and expertise... in addition to the experience they have already. My feeling is that they are going to blog more, they will be more active, and we are going to hear about them more. I hope we will keep in touch with them after this workshop, and hopefully we will hold more sessions like these in the future... God willing. I'm Nawel Guellal from Algeria. I represent Algeria in this interview actually. I'm very happy to participate in this interesting workshop. I'm not actually a well known blogger. I first started blogging in 2005, but I had to stop because I felt at the time I wasn't defending enough, the causes close to my heart. So I had to quit. I have a passion. It is simply: writing. The problem is, I usually write and write and then throw my writings away or put them aside and then never read them. I have a lot of thoughts I want to put in print or on screen. I used to neglect my writings. Now, I came here to learn blogging techniques and learn how to best publish my thoughts online and try to have a feedback on them. I'm not disappointed at all. Maybe only frustrated by the weather. Today it looks better. I can go out and visit Rabat. I'm rather satisfied as I told my colleagues earlier, especially today with the intervention of Mr Rachid Jankari who gave us a lot of interesting informations, especially for a blogger like me who wants to use those techniques to make her writings online more efficient. But all the trainers were great like Magda and Leena. I'm still wondering.. I'm still asking Can blogging really influence public opinion? And can it really help change terrible situations like wars and conflicts? Personally I'm not very convinced this is happening. But I'm still asking the question, and I try to find convincing arguments that can show that one can indeed defend a cause through blogging. My name is Naoufel Chaara I'm 25 years old my blog is "Moudawanat Naoufel" I have a Master in Business Administration I'm a Moroccan from Tangiers. Married and father of a 5 months old baby girl. I write for Talk Morocco, Mideast Youth... To be honest, I didn't have much expectations. I came here primarily to meet bloggers from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. You know, the people I usually interact with on Twitter, Facebook and people I didn't have the chance to meet before. This was my main goal, but when I came I found actual training. Very positive. I first thought this will be like other workshops I attended before.  You know, an awful lot of theory, blah blah blah, lunch and chit-chat. But when I came I discovered ideas I couldn't have imagined. Things like Geobombing or online campaigns. Things I didn't know, and that hopefully I'll be using. At the moment -in Morocco a least- bloggers don't have an impact. No impact whatsoever. Even when bloggers campaigned recently to mourn freedom of speech [in Morocco], it didn't actually work. But in the future, things might actually change for the better. Let us not forget that Morocco is a poor country. 90% of the people care primarily for their daily bread. How do you want them to care about the Internet or blogs? They need to fill their bellies first, don't they? They also need the cost of Internet access and computers be more affordable. In order to be able to have access to blogs, people should learn how to read and should get an education. These things take time. Sure, Moroccan bloggers should play a role to change things.  Not radically of course, but by small moves. And time will make things better. My name is Kamel Mansari. I'm chief editor of "Le Jeune Independant" (jeune-independant.net) I'm also blogger, columnist and correspondent of a number of TV networks and local and foreign newspapers. First, I was surprised and quite amazed by the quality and content of certain blogs. I discovered through Maghreb blogs, a new kind of expression. It's a courageous expression that often entails some difficulties. I tried to detect the importance of blogging in the Maghreb. I think a lot of bloggers in the region are conveying an important message that can be heard and respected the world over. I think Maghreb bloggers have high standards and can reflect the realities and diversity of this region. I have no apprehension whatsoever about the blogosphere, because I see blogging as an addition to my work. I know that the future is for New Media because of the transformation of the media landscape: the landscape enlarges; traditional journalism is shrinking but in the same time it opens to new horizons. I think converting to online journalism will constitute a big challenge in the future. I'd like to thank Common Ground for this initiative. It has allowed us, during those three-day sessions, with the help of outstanding trainers, to have an idea about future perspectives and upcoming challenges. In my sense the most important is to be able through blogging and the training we had to make mutual respect and dialog a reality working on commonalities that are vectors of peace and development. I am Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian blogger. I'm also Assistant Professor at the University of Tunis, where I teach English and more precisely, Linguistics. I'm also correspondent for Global Voices Online in Tunisia. My blog is called "A Tunisian Girl." It's a personal blog where I talk about different subjects. I talk about social issues, politics, love, poetry, music... pretty much everything. I also use it for cyber-activism: sometimes I launch campaigns of support for people who really need it. When I first heard about this workshop I thought it was about writing techniques. I discovered it was much more diversified and interesting. We learned a bit of everything. Things that are very important for bloggers and online activists. I actually remembered stuff I used before and lot of new things, like Google Docs or Google Reader which I never used before. And now I'm also discovering Google... Buzz? Yes.. Buzz. Yes I thing blogging can change things, especially in countries where there is only state-run media... the blogosphere can change a lot of things indeed. In my country for example, you might find the news in the blogs but not in the mainstream newspapers and TV.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 43 seconds
Country: Morocco
Language: English
Producer: Hisham Almiraat
Director: Hisham Almiraat
Views: 243
Posted by: hisham on Feb 28, 2010

This video shows interviews with some of the people present at a training workshop held in Rabat (Morocco). The meeting took place from 15 to 17 February 2010 and was funded by Search for Common Ground (SFCG), a non-governmental organization based in Washington DC, promoting collaborative approaches in dealing with conflicts.

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