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Citizen Journalist Gigi Ibrahim Uses Tools of the Web to Spread News of Cairo Protests

By January 28, 2011

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Citizen journalists - who played a key role in spreading word of the Iranian uprising - are now doing the same in Egypt as a wave of protests rocks the country. And one of the busiest citizen reporters on the streets of Cairo right now is 24-year-old Gigi Ibrahim.

Armed with little more than her Blackberry and a webcam, Ibrahim - who spent her high school years in California and recently earned a political science degree from the American University in Cairo - is on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo. She tweets and posts, shoots stills and video, all in an effort to chronicle the unrest.

In a Skype interview with The New York Times, Ibrahim said her role "is to be part of this wave of change. I tweet a lot while at the protests; I tell everybody the security situation, how many people are at protests. I'm trying to spread accurate information and paint a picture at the ground for people who aren't here, via Twitter and Facebook."

Ibrahim's smartphone lacks an Arabic keybord, but she said "a lot of my followers are from outside of Egypt. I want to try to use a language most everyone would understand. It's important for me to be a citizen journalist, because with our press here... not everything gets broadcast."

Indeed, the Egyptian government, clearly stunned by the unrest, shut down Internet service to much of the country and was attempting to block outgoing TV broadcasts.

Still, on Friday at least, Ibrahim was managing to tweet fairly regularly. In one she wrote:

"All my social networks and sms working via phone but blocked on my laptop hmm isn't that opposite from everyone?"

Ibrahim told the Times social media sites like Twitter and Facebook were helpful tools. "They can spread mass amounts of information," she said. "But at the end of the day, if people don't decide to go to the streets ... nothing will happen."

Egyptians, she added, "are looking for an answer to the struggles they face in their daily lives."

Read more:

Citizen Journalism Around the World

Citizen Journalism and the Iranian Uprising

Getty Images photo above: A protester faces riot police in Cairo.

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January 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm
(1) LimitedGenius says:

I admire Gigi for her sense to recognize the importance of her communications and the need to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

January 31, 2011 at 4:42 pm
(2) Nermeen says:

I dislike this …………….. as she is asking for chaos and she knows zero on Economics and politics…………

February 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm
(3) Boris says:

I think now is the time for those protesters to march to the Presidential Palace and force him to step down immediately. Not leaving before he leaves!

February 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm
(4) Opresso Liber says:

Maybe she does have good intentions reporting and protesting but sorry to burst her bubble. She is been used and brain washed by the radicals among her that have taken over a valid protest against the Govt. Tyranny will never be removed by violence. If changes were needed in Egypt there are pacific ways to resolve conflict. These events are just an excuse to implement Sharia world domination. I wonder if she will thinks she will be allowed to continue her education or opinions as a woman under the same banner that she is preaching? or will she come back to US were she knows she is free unlike the rest of egyptians women behind the chaos when the going gets though?? Must be nice Gigi to bear a dual citizenship when convenient since you are a US citizen by birth. She is nothing but a weekend warrior.

February 8, 2011 at 9:57 am
(5) Lauren Biedenharn says:

You are wrong about Gigi, I wen to high school with her and she is one of the strongest and most intelligent women in the US of this time! I believe she serves as an amazing asset to the force and has the heart of a lion who can decide for herself without corruption what side of this revolution is the right one! She also is the most emotional strong person I have ever met, I know she -even a young woman- could hold the weight of revolution on her shoulders along with her amazing co-protesters.
Think of this, she has almost single handedly brought the USA youth into this movement through the eyes of a warrior there, present, and in action. No one else can get us that close, make us that relevant, and send us such a message!!

February 10, 2011 at 5:39 am
(6) redrobbo says:

Gigi was interviewed from Cairo on BBC news last night. What a brave young woman. She and her fellow protestors are an inspiration to us all. Its time the Western democracies got behind the Egyptian people and help establish a new government

February 10, 2011 at 8:19 am
(7) Kholoud says:

I saw her on Newsnight too and was totally humbled by her courage and eloquence. As a fellow human being/ woman/ Egyptian I’m full of nothing but admiration for her and all the people with her who have finally shaken Egyptians out of their slumber!

February 11, 2011 at 4:47 am
(8) Sean says:

Mubarak is trying to neutralise as many people as possible in order to take the steam out of the protest movement. He is only a figurehead for Suleiman and all the others who have ruled like the pharaohs for so long. They know that if Mubarak goes theywill be next. They need to control any election and continue to have control so they can plot against the opposition and even manipulate public opinion in an attempt to win the election.keep up the protest and finish the job. You will regret it if you let the regime win.
From Sean

February 13, 2011 at 10:09 am
(9) jefftracy says:

she’s a fraud and should go back to Califirnia, she’s playing palour games with democracy!

February 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm
(10) Mike says:

Gigi is absolutely right in respect of separating regigion and state. this is fundamental to resolving discord in the middle east! Gigi, unbridled Demorcracy is a recipe for continuing discord. Because it seeks to smuggle the ‘specious’ – ‘human rights’ into the equation, which are a man-made leftist convention which is predominately concerned with artificial economic rights – which DO NOT EXIST IN REALITY!
This deflect attention from INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS which every ‘individual’ is born with – courtesy of mother nature!
and apply to every individual irrespective of race or creed – without exception! The only social system that supports this ideal is an objectively secular constitutional republic – Religion is personal and private – QED

very best wishes

February 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm
(11) Doug says:

She’s cute

April 25, 2011 at 11:32 pm
(12) Phil McCrackin says:

Just saw her on ‘The Daily Show,’ where she criticized the US which brought her the technology to do what she did. What a dumbass

April 26, 2011 at 9:02 am
(13) jan says:

so many things ae going wrong in egypt right now after the revolution, from tanking economy to unreasonable strikes from everyone, to religious murders, to minority religious shrines getting attacked , so on and so forth. where are the warriors who brought about this scenario? why is there not a single word of protest from freedom fighters of egypt against victimisation of religious minorites? afraid of attacking anyone who might attack back, in the true sense? it is now a country that prouldy says that we will strike till the christian governor of minya steps down. can egypt see everything only through religious eyes? only 35% believes that copts should be given the freedom to practice their religion? all so called lions of freedom of egypt have run back to US now?

June 3, 2011 at 9:51 am
(14) Alexa says:

Nermeen, you’re ignorant. Look what Gigi’s help did. She succeeded. And now your ugly dislike comment just looks ignorant next to everyone else’s who admires her for her drive. She wanted a free country. Wouldn’t you?

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