UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Vlogging from the war zone : Mohammed Nabbous and international citizen journalism in Libya Beckett, Amanda Alexis Lindsey


This thesis focuses on Mohammed Nabbous, a Libyan citizen who produced widely circulated reports during the first month of the revolution which overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, after his over forty years in power. Nabbous’ work is a generative example of citizen journalism, and what Media Scholar Ethan Zuckerman terms bridge blogging. Nabbous was one of many contributors who overcame barriers to communication, including government blocks to Internet access to provide vital on-the-ground information to outside news agencies during the Libyan uprising. Though there are significant differences, what occurred in Libya can be situated and contextualized regionally as part of a series of revolutions in the Middle East in 2010-2011 – a period often referred to as “the Arab Spring.” Nabbous’ role as source and citizen journalist provides rich terrain in which to analyze emerging definitions of journalism and debates over the role of and need for foreign correspondents. Nabbous was killed while covering a firefight in Benghazi only one month into what became an eight month long civil war in Libya. In the week after his death, some of those who eulogized Nabbous on Twitter debated whether his contributions merited acknowledgement as works of journalism, and whether Nabbous had in fact been a journalist. This thesis analyzes 500 of the most widely distributed Twitter messages which eulogize Nabbous, and draws on the wider context of debates about professionalization, news media, changes to the news industry, and journalism ethics.

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