The nominees for the third annual Best of the Blogs have been decided, and now it's up to the public and jury to decide on the winners. Jury member Manal Hassan also describes the situation facing many Arabic bloggers.
The Deutsche Welle's 2006 BOBs -- the Best of the Blogs -- are entering the deciding round on Monday. Some 150 Weblogs and podcasts in a total of 15 categories are ready to come under the scrutiny of a critical public that will be able to vote for its favorites.
Bloggers and Internet users from around the world suggested more than 5,500 Weblogs and podcasts in 10 languages to the competition, twice as many last year, making it difficult to narrow the list down to just 10 nominees per category, according to BOBs' jury member Manal Hassan.
The Arabic blogosphere is growing at astounding rates, with the number of blogs in Egypt alone doubling every six months, added Hassan, an Egyptian blogger who writes the winner of last year's Reporters Without Borders award with her husband. The pair's blog, Manal and Allas' Bit Bucket, encourages others to become activists, to take part in the political system and to report on what is happening around them.
Insufficient media coverage encourages blogs
As in other parts of the world, blogs in Arabic deal with a variety of topics, including culture and daily life, but many bloggers focus their efforts on commenting about national politics, with corruption, health and education issues often being in the spotlight, Hassan said.
"These topics are not being properly handled in the Arabic media," she said, forcing people to become citizen journalists and report on the issues themselves. "People express themselves in using Weblogs."
Recent violence in Lebanon has also left a mark on Arabic blogs, Hassan said.
"This war has left a mark on the blogger scene," she said. "Many bloggers, including those who aren't interested in politics, have tried to show their solidarity with the Lebanese people. Many of them added banners opposing the war to their blogs. They came out against the war and called for it to end."
Winner announcement in Berlin
Manal Hassan will meet with the 12 other jury member on Nov. 10 in Berlin to decide which of the nominees to honor with the Jury Award. All of the contest's winners will be announced on Nov. 11 at a public ceremony in Berlin's Museum for Communication, one of the event's co-organizers.