Echoes of Populism and Terrorism in Libya’s Online News Reporting

Author(s) Letizia Lombezzi
Contact Letizia Lombezzi, The University of Siena, V. le Cittadini, 33 Italy. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 12, Iss. 1, 2018, pp. 60-86
Published May 10, 2018
Type Article
Abstract This article focuses on news reporting in Libya, assessing both official and citizen journalism. Special attention is paid to online resources, primarily spontaneous posts written in Arabic. Social media shows the emergence of citizen journalism together with so-called User-generated Content. Both have proved capable of creating legitimacy. Political inclinations, including Islamic ideology and its religious claims, are presented, supported, or criticized by ordinary citizens who post their comments and opinions on the web. Official press and news agencies have their social media profiles as well, sharing the same online space with nonprofessionals. Monitoring and analysis of reporting show that there is no relevant difference in journalistic models; nor do concerns between professionals and nonprofessionals vary. Libya appears today to be a mosaic of different interests: one that is interconnected and in conflict at the same time. These interests are vying to establish new supremacies in the country. Journalism in its various typologies faces pressure from the abovementioned interests, so it is negatively affected by rhetoric in both reporting and commentary. These preliminary arguments lead us to the core topics of populism – for which a definition is suggested – and reporting about terrorism in Libya. Against this background, we analyze news flows, sources, and other issues. I conclude with a brief review of the main issues, the characteristics of the Arabic narrative discourse, and the emerging Arabic lexicon.
Keywords social media, Islam, Libya, journalism, populism, citizen journalism