Thursday 5 April 2012

Research: "A Gay Girl in Damascus", the Mirage of the "Authentic Voice" and the Future of Journalism


In the 21st century journalists are making judgements, usually at speed, about whether to trust the identity of a “real” person through their “virtual” representation. 

In order to maintain their cultural dominance over the representation of reality and their role in making sense of the world, journalists and news organisations have thus far reiterated their commitment to traditional practices of fact-checking and verification.

This article demonstrates, however, that traditional journalistic practice was not sufficient to spot the Gay Girl in Damascus hoax - a fake blog set up in Syria during the 'Arab Spring'. Instead, it was the adoption of a networked approach to journalism that ultimately uncovered the author, Tom MacMaster.

The article shows that increasingly, understanding and representing reality requires a “mutualistic interaction” between traditional news organisations and the new models of journalism, enabling us to identify, hear and amplify the “authentic voices” calling for political and social change around the world.

The Paper 

Available here to download from the Social Science Research Network. 


Bennett, D., 'A "Gay Girl in Damascus", the Mirage of the "Authentic Voice" and the Future of Journalism' in Keeble, R. & J. Mair (eds.), Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the Arab Spring, (Abramis, 2011), pp. 187-195.


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