Understanding the Death of "Citizen Journalist" Rami al-Sayed: Towards a New Interpretive Framework for Digital Journalism

Nicholas Gilewicz


English-language Western news coverage of the 2012 death of Syrian Rami al-Sayed, who produced both recorded videos and live feeds of civil strife in the city of Homs, exhibits discursive uncertainty about the meaning of his journalistic work. To analyze this uncertainty, this article interpolates Foucault’s discussion of parrhesia into the digital realm. Parrhesia delineates the discursive space of truth telling through duties to speak the truth, to believe that truth, and to honestly represent oneself. Risks to speakers—both reputational and existential—undergird and activate this framework. Parrhesia also offers a critical framework for understanding the discursive space of digital journalism, particularly when it is both enhanced and pressured by nontraditional journalistic actors.


alternative journalism, citizen journalism, digital journalism, journalism, media resistance, news, radical media, social media, Syria

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