The opening months of 2011, the world witnessed a series of turmoil events in Egypt that soon lead to uprisings toppling President Mubarak regime. The Egyptian revolution was, by far, the most media exposed event in the Middle East for journalists/activists using different forms of media –especially social media- to voice Egyptian opposition to the world. Even with the Egyptian government shutting Internet lines, imprisoning activists, blocking media websites, confiscating newspapers, cutting off mobile communications, and scrambling satellite signals to limit coverage of the events, Egyptian journalists circumvented government pressure to voice their cause online that lead many label the Egyptian uprising as the ‘Facebook’ or the ‘Twitter’ revolution.
Since 2011, the utilisation of social media has irrevocably changed the nature of the traditional public sphere. One can see the Egyptian online society as a multiplicity of networks. Audiences started to provide detailed descriptions of Egyptian street politics, posting multimedia material, generating public interest, and reinforcing citizen power and democracy. This trend changed the way audiences consumed news, with traditional media, (especially independent and opposition) started to access online information to develop their media content and to escape government control.
Indeed, after the first phase of the revolution, social media became a main source for information and political participation. New actors started to invest in creating news portals to attract communities and to enable these communities to interact with each other’s ideas on the one hand and with the ideas of the news portals on the other.
Similarly, several media organisations started to expand their presence to social networks so that, as well as providing news content, they also provided a ‘space’ for interactivity. Social media news sites became the playground for political parties, activists, and groups from various ideologies creating ‘online spaces of flows’ to cater for the emerging needs of the readers. In transitional societies moving towards democracy, such as Egypt, political development is a central topic which journalists mediate with their audience. Indeed, journalists inform the audience and facilitate informed choices as ‘gatewatchers’, not as watchdog ‘gatekeepers’, in the power struggle between audience, media, and politics.
The aim of this paper is to study how different news organisations (government, opposition, non-‐partisan) are utilizing social media to establish a sustainable infrastructure for free and public democratic deliberations in the post Egypt revolution. Building on Network journalism theories and empirical material collected, this article aims at utilizing Critical Discourse Analysis and netnography at answerign the following research questions: (1) the use of social media by Egyptian newsorganizations in interacting with audience (2) nature of online discussions in news organizations social media outlets.