Support Iraqi Bloggers
Interview with Cecile Landman
By Geert Lovink

Cecile Landman is a Dutch freelance investigative journalist, who 
specializes in the facts behind the news. One of the areas she 
researches and works in is Italy, a country she is passionate about. 
Cecile has often said to me that she was born in the wrong part of 
Europe as her energetic character does not resonate well with the cold, 
Calvinist Dutch, and their similar meteorological condition. Yet, the 
Italian language and lifestyle can also be a culture that one inhabits 
and carries around, no matter where you are. And that's what Celice 
does, when she logs on the Net. Since mid 2004 Cecile is in daily 
contact with Iraqi bloggers. Together with founder Jo van der Spek, 
Cecile forms the spill of Streamtime, an international support campaign 
for new media initiatives in Iraq. The work of Streamtime goes back to 
the nineties 'tactical media' concepts and initiatives, in particular 
Press Now, an Amsterdam-based support campaign for independent media in 
former Yugoslavia, founded in 1993. The scene around Press Now, closely 
connected to Internet provider xs4all and cultural centre De Balie, is 
also known for its efforts to keep the Belgrade radio station/Internet 
initiative and cultural hotspot B92 in the air and online, in 
particular during the Kosovo war and the NATO bombings of Serbia in 

Fast-forward four, five years and the situation looks pretty different. 
Efforts to support independent media and Internet initiatives in Iraq 
after the US-led invasion of 2003 have been quickly aborted because of 
hostage taking, killings and car bombs. One year after their arrival, 
NGOs and aid agencies had to pull out. Government agencies and 
foundations refused to allocate financial resources because they judged 
the situation too risky. By late 2004 hardly any media support work 
could be done inside Iraq anymore, even for the cynical reasons that 
added to the risks involved and the paucity of financial support, 
travel insurance had simply (and perhaps ironically) become insanely 
expensive. Workshops like the ones done by the Berlin-based group 
Streamminister have been held in Amman, Jordan since. After initial 
funding which was provided by, amongst others, the HIVOS Foundation, 
Streamtime no longer has any financial support or funding. In response 
to the deteriorating security situation, Streamtime gradually started 
to focus on online support of Iraqi bloggers, inside or outside the 
country. What Cecile shares with many of her Italian friends and 
colleagues is a warm interest in power structures behind the media 
spectacle. In the case of Italy we only need to mention the mafia, 
banks, the army, the Vatican and the P2 loge, and not to forget as 
well, of course, various fascist leagues. Enough to investigate--and a 
good school for spin watchers.

GL: Cecile, could you describe us how an average blogging day of yours 
looks? Do you visit sites and follow links? How do you store and 
process all the information you find?

CL: When I get up I start up the computer and the coffee machine 
simultaneously. Firstly I'd check some sites of the various bloggers 
that I am most curious about and familiar with. I am interested in 
their personal lives, but also how they write, how they play with 
different writing styles, and concepts of what 'information' 
constitutes according to them. I am looking for amazing stories and 
styles, not necessarily those that are most likely to reach mainstream 
media, but stories that can give insight how 'the Iraqi soul' is 
developing through all they're being confronted with, the immense and 
so destructive daily economical, political, military and every day 
violence. On a daily basis I'd visit at least a dozen Iraqi blogs. In 
addition, I check some specific Italian as well as international media 
sites, or specific news sites, varying from the big press-agencies to 
GNN (Guerilla News Network) to some more personal preferred ones, just 
for fun. I occasionally visit a Dutch site. There are also days that I 
visit no more than ten sites and that's it.

Visiting Iraqi blogs has become an evolving ritual, together with but 
not necessarily parallel to the developments in the broader Iraqi 
blogosphere. I know quite a few inside stories from the Iraqi 
blogosphere and not all of them can be shared. Secrecy is absolutely 
inevitable. Through chats and bloggers who I have met personally, my 
insights also change and as a consequence some bloggers, in my eyes, 
have become 'mainstream' bloggers who I rarely visit anymore. Others 
are starting to provoke, or in 'the beginning' had a serious blog, then 
developed more provocative sites, sometimes alongside their more 
mainstream and less personally informative blog(s) and started to write 
more provocatively. Through different ways of writing they're testing 
what reactions they get onto their posts. Given the history of Iraq, 
this is already incredibly surprising. To me it is as if someone who 
was not allowed to talk, or use his vocals cords, for long, long years 
is finding ways to begin to talk with the outside world. Now they 
started communicating with the outside.

When I first joined Streamtime, in June 2004, I followed a lot of Iraqi 
blogs AND their comment sections. That seemed the place where it all 
happened back then. Comments on one posting could run into the 
hundreds. Daily. Or to be more precise: nightly. What was most striking 
were the violent tones and attitudes in those debates. I was 
flabbergasted, and at the same time most fascinated. Also horrified. I 
started to mingle and join these discussions, with the aim to promote 
Streamtime, get involved and make some waves. I stopped doing that. 
Most of the time it gave the feeling of being smashed on the head with 
a baseball stickbat. "Masochism" said Iraqi Raed Jarrar and his Irani 
girlfriend Niki to me, both bloggers when they visited Amsterdam in 
November 2004. However, I learned a lot from the comment sections, and 
from there I followed a lot of links, of which 75% were crap, but the 
rest were useful. I store most of what I find and shouldn't forget to 
mention that it is all publicly stored on the Streamtime site itself, 
although Streamtime doesn't have a search option. Other stuff goes to 
the Xer-files-blog, private mailboxes and a 'good' folder. The rest 
is stored and processed in my mind, and comes back in chats with other 

GL: How do blogging and investigative journalism relate? At a first 
glance, they look oppositional, potentially supplementary practices. 
Whereas the investigative journalist works for months, if not years, to 
uncover a story, bloggers more look more like an army of ants that 
contribute to the great hive called 'public opinion'. Bloggers prefer 
to post comments and rarely add new facts to a story. How do you look 
at this relation from the perspective of the investigative journalist? 

You are one of a very few that combine the two activities. Is blogging 
a secondary activity? Is it is useful anyway to create such hierarchies?

CL: Journalists, and certainly the investigative types, need to make a 
living too. They can't put just anything on-line. Bloggers don't seem 
to bother too much about this, and that does create a conflict. Indeed, 
I work in both worlds. On my Xer-files blog I link to jokes and 
side-information that I can't post on the Streamtime site. Rarely, 
however, do I write an entry on it. I use my personal blog as a 
'megaphone' for issues that I find interesting to store, like a public 

I started my blog almost by accident. I wanted to leave a comment on an 
Iraqi blog, but to do that I had to identify myself as a blogger. 
Having obtained my blogger ID, I  immediately had a blog of my own, 
which was (and still is) primarily read by Iraqis and linked to Iraqi 
sites. At first, I tried to use it to link information from 
ex-Yugoslavia,  -- about cartoonists and humor from Belgrade, stories 
about first web-experiences and information exchange in ex-Yugoslavia 
during the 90s war -- and make this material and information available 
for Iraqi readers. The blog was also used as a back-up for Streamtime 
when this site was cracked.

Interestingly enough blogging is changing existing formats for 
information dissemination. As  people are increasingly bored and 
frustrated over a broader spectrum of conventional journalism, and 
traditional news formats; they don't catch up with the news anymore, it 
no longer glues on their cervical memory stick. It is like a song that 
you have listened to too often, or rather perhaps it is like an 
incessant commercial advertisement: you hear it, you can even sing the 
words, but they are without meaning. Mainstream media start to grasp 
this. They have begun to search for new formats in order to attract 
readers (read: advertisers).

This is especially visible in the trend towards 'infotainment'. The 
impact of the advertisement industry on information is palpable. 
Taking, as an, and seen from for example the Italian media/political 
perspective this recipe doesn't make people more clever or intelligent. 

In fact, I heard (but didn't check, so I didn't post about it) that 
about 69% of the Italian populace has returned to being illiterate 
because they don't read anymore and only watch TV. Link this factoid 
with the fact that Italian TV is politically abused by premier 
Berlusconi and his mates and you get a strange picture, indeed.

At the same time, blog-reading and writing has become popular because 
it is  personal. I would say it is a positive development that people 
read each others commentaries on the news or on local developments. 
Because of the personal factor in blogging you don't have to bother 
about objectivity, a blog is subjective by its very nature. On blogs 
comments can be left, and by this, it leaves the one-way communication 
media-concept and becomes a tool for communication, discussions, 
quarrels, a lot of nonsense, and more.

We have to distinguish between various 'blogospheres'. If you take a 
look around at Global Voices, the differences are obvious. There are 
for instance the so-called 'pajama-bloggers' in the USA. Whereas 
journalists are a kind of 'army' that (should) control the powers to 
be, bloggers started to 'control' the journalist-media. Given the 
conditions under which mainstream media operate this can, potentially, 
only be a good development.

But who controls the quality of the blog posts? And where walks the 
journalist out and the blogger peeps in? I'd say, this occurs through 
research of the used sources. Bloggers I post about on Streamtime are 
nearly all people I chat and mail with regularly. I 'know' them. So I 
know their information can be trusted. I use my blog and the Streamtime 
site in every possible way to get information out that otherwise 
probably won't be 'out' there. I don't bother too much about copyright. 
That's luxury journalism and information on Iraq can't afford. But I do 
my journalistic research over the sources and the information, and I 
mix bloggers information with articles by heavy-weight journalists that 

I consider valuable, and who are in the Iraqi region. So it is a 
two-way situation, the Streamtime blog is as well as much about making 
information available to 'the West' as it is about providing various 
information to Iraqi bloggers.

I had one good experience in which journalism (good journalism is 
always investigative) and blogging came together. It was research on 
the '' site. On this site porn pictures were put 
together with war images from Afghanistan and Iraq. One title for one 
of the war pics was 'cooked Iraqi' and indeed it was an image of a 
burned body with grinning US soldiers around it, holding their thumbs 
up. With Haitham Sabbah, a blogger on JordanPlanet, we (almost in an 
apart-together fashion) shared our research and information, and 
indeed, it was picked up, not long after, by mainstream newspapers in 
the US. That article, btw. did not refer to the bloggers who were 
source material for their article, because otherwise they would find 
themselves in trouble regarding copyright.

I find that I am hip-hopping, trying to connect complex worlds. Giving 
feedback to the postings of Iraqi bloggers, and provide them with 
journalistic advice e.g. their writing and suggest subjects they could 
take up. I want the Iraqi bloggers to be as good as good journalists 
can be, while at the same time I don't want them to lose their personal 
factor in their writings. I am not getting paid for this work, I simply 
find it too important. So money is not an item indeed for the blogger 
I've become...  but the journalist in me is hungry! (A hungry 
journalist is an angry journalist).

GL: The world of Iraqi blogging must be intense, tragic, encouraging, 
and pretty powerful at the same time. How do you and others deal with 
all the emotions on the line and to the surface?

CL: Through a great sense of humor, actually. One of them, The Konfused 
Kid, described it yesterday like this "sweet black humor, last 
defense." Without black humor I don't know if I would have been able to 
continue with Streamtime. It is essential. I make fun with Iraqi 
bloggers and I love their sharp observations, their wide-open minds. 
This also happens as well with the Iraqis that I have come to know in 
The Netherlands. They are poets, writers, painters, actors. Iraqis 
remind me of people from Naples who are theatrical, loud, rumor makers. 

They gesticulate a lot with their arms. They discuss and dance. They 
are warm people. They are also all harmed, scarred, violated. It is 
difficult. Sometimes I feel exhausted from having processed war 
information from this position  since a year and a half. On the other 
side, I find it not only important for the Iraqi people I am doing this 
with. Observing developments in The Netherlands, and Europe, the 
Iraq-case is important for a number of reasons. I consider the 
communication between people in Iraq and 'our worlds' of extreme 

How to deal with the emotions, though? I sometimes cry, or scream. At 
other times laugh about it all. But when I notice that people on the 
other side of the line are sinking into despair, I have no choice but 
to cheer them up. What is difficult is when I realize they tell me with 
not so many words that they don't talk about very rotten war events 
anymore, the chains of kidnappings, lack of electricity and so forth. 

In some way, maybe we are all  afraid that it is all just the same 
story as yesterday and the days and weeks, months even years before. 
Who wouldn't get bored with that? Same number or more dead in one day, 
does it matter? Numbers are still not being counted. "Who cares?!"
The thought that the Iraqis might become isolated once again is utterly 
unbearable. Sometimes, when someone in Iraq has a burnout, quits 
blogging and stops telling stories, I try to call them back, phone, 
mail, try to call in chat. And in the meantime I search for other 
stories on the web, in an attempt for other input that might be just a 
cartoon I put online. Some come back blogging, others don't, or they do 
so irregularly, but they do knock on my chat-door.

GL: Is there a way to keep cool under so much stress of conspiracy, 
secret service activity and media involvement?

CL: No, but I try to manage, although it can get on my nerves, like 
today. I just read a posting from Emigre. She started the Iraq Blog 
Count from Australia. Like me she is not Iraqi. So I do see some 
similarities with my situation. She wrote that she found a transmitting 
device in her home, that wasn't hers. If it is what she thinks it is, 
then I wouldn't be that surprised, but the paranoia factor definitely 
gets reinvigorated. I can imagine being 'followed' by 'they know who 
they are'. On the other hand, not speaking up, not to continue doing 
this..., that would be a worse option.

I can see mainstream media =96in particular US, and UK-based newspapers 
and agencies- changing their attitude towards the bloggers. In The 
Netherlands however, Streamtime and its contacts in Iraq continue to be 
neglected, even though Dutch media complain that they don't have 
reporters on the ground. I hear from people in Iraq that they have been 
asked to write for US newspapers, which some of them would like to do. 
Tough hey remain fearful that this would become known in Iraq, which 
could mean their death.

GL: Late 2004 Streamtime gave up to working in Iraq itself. It became 
too dangerous. What does that mean for you? Do you look at blogging as 
a last resort?

CL: Yes and no. Switching from web radio workshops inside Iraq to 
blogging 'with Iraq' has shown itself to be a new starting point with 
unpredictable outcomes. The network of Iraqi bloggers is fragile, but 
it has begun to consolidated by now. Emigre's work on Iraq Blog Count  
proved to be essential. Streamtime played an important role in bringing 
some people together in- and outside Iraq, namely by supporting ideas 
of independent media inside Iraq, independent opinion forming, opening 
access points towards experiences in 'the West' with independent media, 
especially on the Web, which seems essential to me.

GL: Could you give us an insight into what is being discussed in the 
Iraqi blogosphere, apart from responses to suicide bombs, military 
attacks by occupied forces and political events?

CL: Sex, love and rock 'n roll. Ways to get out of the country, to 
build up another life. Ways of contacting each other. Styles of 
writing. Electricity and connectivity failures. The fact of just having 
escaped from an explosion or fire-fights on the street. Fast changes 
within the Iraqi society. Iraqi politicians, clerics and Americans. 
University practices. Random chats with taxi-drivers, in which the most 
important tension is not to make yourself known, or give a clear 
opinion, but occasionally a real discussion in a taxi does take place. 
Changing conditions for women. Religion. Fears and angers. Some young 
kids post pictures of cats. The behavior of children, or how parents 
can (not) protect their children. Tribal communities trying to organize 
on local levels. Media. The sandstorms. Or about humor, one of the 
bloggers recently told me this: "We are becoming more serious. Getting 
more gloomy and moody because of our unknown future. We joke but it's 
not as sincere as before. Jokes come out everyday. You should read 
'Shalash al Iraqi'. You'll never find such black humor anywhere in the 
world though I doubt if you can understand it, even though it is 
translated. It contains heavy Iraqi slang."

GL: What do you make of the fact that more and more Iraqis are blogging 
from outside of the country? So many Iraqis live in exile, and have 
been for so long. Blogging and Diaspora communities seem to almost 
operate in tandem.

CL: More and more Iraqis are trying to leave, or have already left the 
country after the post-invasion rid-of-the-dictator enthusiasm has 
faded away. Exilees went back to Iraq, to visit family and friends, to 
be involved in poetry festivals, or making theatre festivals for and 
with children in Iraq. But a lot of them are returning less and less to 
their former home-country. It is very dangerous and there's not so much 
reason for optimism. The country could be closing again, but now in 
war, religion, and sectarianism. "We don't want a racist government", I 
just heard in a chat, while right now in Baghdad big demonstrations are 
being organised going on by (secular) Sunni and Shia together, driven 
by anger over the elections, and fears for a new isolated and repressed 
society. Lately I get the impression that the Iraqi diaspora is 
silencing. Now, this is an observation from Amsterdam, maybe there are 
places where Iraqis in the Diaspora manage to stay involved with 
developments in Iraq. But the machineries of war are so big, that also 
from the outside people are becoming more pessimistic. Bloggers outside 
Iraq are still active, like Raed Jarrar, who now lives in the USA, or 
his mother from Amman. Even taking the diaspora into account, comparing 
Iraqi to other Arab blogospheres like the Jordanian, or Lebanese, there 
are big differences. What is also notable is that other Arabic 
blogospheres sort of 'stay out' of the Iraqi one. =46rom what I see 
spheres don't really mix, or connect very well.  

GL: You're not reading or speaking Arabic. How do you, and others, deal 
with that?

CL: One cross-checks by reading multiple sources and by asking 
different Iraqis their opinions and explanations of what is being 
written in Iraqi / Arabic media. I inform myself by using all my 
possible sources, and all the possible means I am aware of; Iraqis in 
and outside Iraq are close to me, here in The Netherlands. I ask them, 
until they get bored, to explain to me what I don't understand. I 
rarely shut up. I get stuff translated, in chats, when I ask for it. 
Iraqi slang used in black humor stories is difficult to translate, but 
sometimes it is done for me, and it is the best back entrance to get an 
insight into a culture.

GL: Do you encounter fundamental islamists or traditional religious 
groups online and how do you deal with this?

CL: In the Iraqi blogosphere I haven't encountered any fundamentalist 
approaches. On the contrary, perhaps with the exception of hidden 
comments in a few blog comment sections, where sometimes you can find 
comments of about a meter in length with texts from the Koran, but most 
of the time these are ignored. Most of the bloggers are secular or 
gently religious, mainly Islam-oriented, but there are also 
Assyrian-Christians. The closer you look, the smaller divisions you can 
see inside Islam. The tribal structures become more significant. 
Sometimes I do get mixed up in discussions (during chat sessions) about 
religion, even though I promised myself not to do so. They end up in 
declarations about what specific prophets said and what they meant. I 
am not religious, and never have been. I grumble about old dusty ideas 
of existentialism, and 'do-it-yourself' practices and that religion, 
like politics is all about 'power-systems', with in most cases men on 
top. To me, as a woman, seeing the results, religion doesn't make 
sense. During such discussions I take the freedom to voice my opinion 
just like I am 'normally' used to doing. But in order to 'be equal' it 
is necessary to be aware of the different histories, actualities, and 
cultural diversities; the world certainly is not that flat. It is 
complex and bumpy. I consider myself fairly ignorant regarding matters 
of 'religion', and also Arabic cultures. Because of that I consider it 
very crucial to listen very carefully to what is really said, and to 
try to ask the right questions. Religion is some sort of magic, so (my) 
'rationality' probably isn't suitable to provide a better 
interpretation. Another aspect is that there are more Sunni's blogging 
than Shia. Together with some Iraqi bloggers I'm trying to find out 
why, because we are searching for more Shia people that are blogging, 
or want to get involved.

GL: A previous aspect of Streamtime dealt with web radio and poetry. 
Another is the promotion of free software. What responses have you 
heard from Iraqi bloggers about such ideas and activities?

CL: The Iraqi poets, and journalists we became friends with in the 
Netherlands invite us when they organize or are involved in a cultural 
event, and there is always the option to stream what they do. When we 
streamed Iraqi poetry from Amsterdam 'to Iraq' in October 2004, the 
poets and listeners were emotional, and it was a great success. We also 
streamed as well from Amsterdam in January 2005 when the first Iraqi 
elections took place. We transmitted telephone conversations we had 
with people in Baghdad and other places in Iraq, plus with Iraqis in 
the Diaspora, this was all transmitted. And indeed, we stream with the 
Dyne:bolic software (FLOSS) and we try to promote that. We are in dire 
shortage of funding, otherwise we would probably have done workshops in 
Jordan or elsewhere in the region. Ideas on workshops with the bloggers 
and the ideas and options to stream from Iraq meet with enthusiasm with 
from the bloggers; there are some small developments from this point of 
view.  There is a great IraqiLinuxGroup. Very active, intelligent, open 
minds, they just go on through all the war, and we have very good 
contacts with them. ILUG people are in Baghdad and abroad. They are 
very committed to the promotion of Free Open Source Software. I try to 
stimulate that IraqiLinux and bloggers will seek to cooperate together. 
And there is of course the fact that in war time many things are 'not 
available' but in all the chaos what is there could be considered 'open 
source'. People use and copy everything they can get their hands on. We 
have to bear in mind that the Web, free software and similar 
developments are young in Iraq.

GL: In December 2005 you attended a meeting of the Global Voices 
project in London. Global Voice is a 'meta blog' that monitors 
so-called 'bridge blogs', "people who are talking about their country 
or region to a global audience." How do you judge such US initiative? 
Like Streamtime they also support bloggers. What's the difference 
compared to your approach? Is it important that you are continental 
European? Can you explain us the subtle differences how professional 
journalism, activism and blogging operate on both sides of the 

CL: I am glad an initiative like Global Voices (GV) exists and am 
fascinated by it. But I can't grasp to my satisfaction the nature of 
GV. I can't see in which direction it wants to develop, if it has got 
a direction at all. "Who will finance Global Voices over time?" Iranian 
blogger Hoder asked during the London conference, while I was asking 
myself whether GV is about blogging the blogs and quantities of blog 
writing, or is there more=97content=97to it? It didn't seem appropriate 
to pose such questions. GV is an experiment, like Streamtime, but on a 
grander scale. GV gives a 'massive' impression. And in a way the 
description I just heard of a glaze layer over GV seems to fit. The 
question is whether this will grow into a serious network, able and 
willing to challenge, in practical ways, issues, like for example the 
'digital divide'? Could an initiative like GV transform into a cheaper 
way for big media corporations to collect information? Is it the fate 
of blogs to provide big media with free content? Will blogs become 
mainstream itself? Will information 'flatten' instead of being given 
more 'relievo' or inside depth? What will happen with Reuters' wish: 
"We want to work more with the bloggers." And how can GV find ways to 
discuss such issues in a serious manner with the associated relevant 

I told myself several times that I shouldn't let myself - because of 
the form - distract from content at the GV summit, but the way 
co-founders Ethan Zuckermann and Rebecca MacKinnon led the summit was 
done in a tight format, in such a way that I felt it would perhaps be 
intimidating for some. =46rom my European eyes it seemed pretty American. 
It got to on my nerves when Microsoft-blogger Richard Scoble was 
introduced. Just walked in for the moment that he would talk about 
himself and the company he works for. So I really wondered whether he 
had come to listen as well? Was he really interested in what anyone 
else there had to say's around? Why did he turn up? He is on the 
Microsoft pay-roll, and therefore perhaps he was the only paid blogger 
at the conference. Zuckermann and MacKinnon admit that it's a problem 
that big companies control too much of the Web-practices, but  I felt a 
bit of cold breeze when I raised my questione to Scoble on "corporate 
fantasies" and whether Microsoft wasn't more about blocking the 
Internet than blogging the Internet. Luckily, I saw Iranian blogger 
Hoder smile from ear to ear, which eased my nerves.

Instead of connecting blogging dots from all over the world,. 
Streamtime zooms in at Iraq. Of course 'Iraq' more or less involves the 
whole world, but Streamtime focuses on getting access to people's 
information that we don't know or hear about that easily. This is 
mainly done through direct contacts. Making direct contacts in the 
Iraqi context is not an easy thing to do. It takes time and a lot of 
attention to get through, to gain trust. And 'trust' in the Iraqi 
context is a very precious good. Our information is not only gathered 
from existing (Iraqi) blogs; the information is actively, and 
journalistically searched out, collated, and verified with various 
Iraqi people in Iraq and among its Diaspora, backed up with stories of 
journalists like Seymour Hersh and Patrick Cockburn.

Especially the 'low-to-no-literacy' and 'multi-linguality' are 
essential for Streamtime. The flow of Streamtime is determined by 
shared needs, skills, knowledge and experiences of all involved. The 
design is guided by openness, free publishing (copy left), easy access, 
low-to-no literacy and multi-linguality. Free software is preferred and 
its use is stimulated. The Web is a powerful and accessible structure, 
but web content remains fragmented. Streamtime aims to research, 
indicate, point to and excavate the amazing stories of people that, 
against all odds, are building a new Iraq. We want to help break the 
media barriers, provide people with the tools and knowledge to build 
their own radio broadcast stations, make programs and exchange content.

GL: Apart from Streamtime you're involved in an international network 
of investigative journalism. What do you work on besides Iraq? Can you 
imagine one day integrating blogging and journalism and making a living 
from it? The economics of blogging is very high on the agenda of the 
A-lists bloggers. They all seem to be millionaires, or what? Blogging  
is more and more becoming a fulltime activity for some, but how they 
will make a living remains a mystery.

CL: I worked, and still work, on Italian issues. A number of years ago 
I was a newspaper correspondent in Italy for Dutch media. I have also 
worked for Italian media. Recently I wrote a report about the state of 
investigative journalism in Italy. The study was presented at a recent 
event, here in Amsterdam where over 450 participants from 30 countries 
participated in the "third Global Investigative Journalism Conference." 
For ages I have had a special interest in media restrictions, economies 
and its political dimensions. In Italy this is a big issue (one you 
won't find on TV). The influence of American media corporations 
throughout the Western Hemisphere is huge. Its commercial significance 
is similar. This also counts for applies to the Web. Concerning to 
blogs, I am looking into possibilities of setting -up a 
similar-to-Streamtime-but-different project for Zimbabwe. We know that 
Zimbabwe bought a web filter system from China, in which Google, Yahoo 
and Cisco are involved. While researching Zimbabwe I accidentally got 
involved in a Darfur blog--invented only a week ago, and already 
mentioned in the Washington Post.

Old-fashioned newspaper journalism is still where my heart is, even 
though I like the mix of old and new media. I still follow the 
developments in the Italian G-8 court case. During the 2001 G8 summit 

in Genoa anti-globalists were beaten up 'Chilean style'. One 
demonstrator died, the police violence was brutal. I monitor what 
happens in the turbulent, but oh so quiet Netherlands, but it is 
difficult to find publishers for my findings. Mainstream media is 
running after its own tail. The other day a colleague, working at Dutch 
national public radio told me about an experience with his editor: He 
had researched and gathered some fine facts to scoop with. The answer 
he got from his editor was that no-one had come up with this 
information yet. So my colleague responded him: "Indeed, isn't that 
what News is all about?!" Recently, after proposing an article to a 
national newspaper I was told: "We don't have a freelancers budget." 

Later that day they phoned me, and asked to interview me on the subject 
I had brought up earlier in the day. I agreed to be interviewed for PR 
reasons. I can't imagine making money from all of the work I do and do 
not have the slightest clue how bloggers will make money out of their 
activities, even despite the fact that I did hear stories of 
extravagant wedding parties being paid from the revenues of blogging.

(edited by Amanda McDonald Crowley)


Cecile Landman's blog:
Streamtime campaign:
Dyne:bolic software:
Iraq Blog Count:
Global Voices:
Global Voices London event:
VVOJ (Dutch-Flemish organization for Investigative Journalists):

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