The Baghdad Blog Times

The Baghdad Blog Times
: We webloggers should help Iraqis start weblog newspapers.

Iraq has had no free press, let alone freedom, for generations.

Weblogs give them the chance to publish freely, overnight, with no expense of printing presses and paper, no production equipment needed, no distribution network needed, no investment at all.

The beauty of weblogging is that it is the world’s cheapest — no, history’s cheapest — means of publishing. Weblogging brings the power of the press down to the people. And these people need it.

Of course, the audience in Iraq would be small at the start: tiny.

But the audience who can connect in Iraq and the audience elsewhere in the world who read this would be influential. Thus Iraqis would gain a voice in their country and in the world.

And this instant free press would exercise muscles of expression that have atrophied in Iraq. It would teach them how to report and comment and how to find the truth from beyond their borders.

When Eastern European countries were freed, Western newspaper journalists rushed there to teach them how to be journalists and how to publish. But those countries had an infrastructure of expression that does not exist in Iraq. And, besides, times have changed:

The web and weblogging have lowered the barrier to free expression.

I’ve been driving myself nuts trying to find a story I read a few weeks ago about a web-only newspaper in South Korea that is gaining more influence than the printed perss (can anybody send me that link?). That is a model for what can be accomplished in Iraq. Salam Pax is a model, too: He’s just one man who told the stories from inside Baghdad that were not being told. Hell, Josh Marshall keeping the Trent Lott story alive is a model, too, for it proved that one tenacious reporter can influence the national debate.

So what would we have to do? Not very damned much. Maybe nothing.

I’d be happy to exchange emails with any Iraqis who can speak English and who wants to start weblog, giving them instruction in how to make it happen. If this clicks and grows, we can help fund hosting for them. We can provide compelling design. We can shine the spotlight of the world on them. Or we can just watch. With so very little, the people of Iraq can gain a free press.

Imagine how that will change the world.