A Snapshot of Digital Rights Coverage in the MENA Region

Social Media Exchange (SMEX), is a registered Lebanese NGO that works to advance self-regulating information societies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Their work encompasses media development programmes as well as internet policy research and digital rights advocacy in support of more accessible, participatory, and just enabling environments for civil society across the MENA region. While they engage globally, Lebanon is their home, making Arab society and culture their primary context for action. SMEX is currently working on expanding coverage of digital rights-related issues in the MENA region and on developing an editorial strategy and workflows to be able to produce authoritative and consistent reporting on the intersection of human rights and technology.


Drawing on their successes and failures documenting the rise of the Lebanese surveillance state and covering a range of other digital stories, SMEX will conduct a survey and a series of interviews with journalists, editors, and researchers investigating the intersection of technology and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. They will inventory current methods of reporting on internet policy and digital dilemmas and the challenges encountered, both topical and practical, to raise awareness about gaps and obstacles and propose workable editorial and investigative strategies to promote looking at digital networks through the lens of human rights and social justice.

The results of this inquiry will be integrated into a working paper and inventory of stand-out reporting on internet policy and digital rights in the region that together can serve as both a map and resource guide for investigative journalists who want to join the beat and get quickly up to speed.

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