Who owns a story?

A blogger in Egypt recently wrote: “Al Jazeera owned Tunisia. Now, they own Egypt too.”

What does it mean to own a story? And in a place where journalists are being shoved out of the picture (or the country) does ownership fall into the hands of the citizens? When a journalist includes a byline they take some ownership of a story. When a newspaper or website publishes something, they also take ownership of the story.

As a journalist, every story becomes your own. After some time, this story becomes shared; the person interviewed owns it, the writer owns it, the editor owns it, the news agency owns it, and then the viewers own it…

Ownership in Egypt is changing now. If Al Jazeera really does “own” this story, then it is not strictly theirs. Last night, as Internet lines were opened to the public once again, Al Jazeera tweeted: “(We) urge people who have any images or video from the protests to submit it to us via: http://yourmedia.aljazeera.net

The Human Rights Watch distributed an article about why Egypt reversed the blackout. They write that the government is now “scared of its own people.” These are the people who are now in control.

Ownership is now in the hands of average people, involved in the protests. Right now, it is estimated that more than 1.2 million people are crammed into Tahir Square. And if even a small percentage of those people submitted a photo or video, then ownership would be shared.

Perhaps that’s how is should always be. But of course, that is still up for the people to decide.

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