Lebanon Youth Launch Newspaper Challenging Politics, Media

In Lebanon, where divisions dominate both the political and media spectrum, a new and independent youth newspaper, is shaking up the status-quo.

Sawt Ashabab, which translates to "Youth Voice" in Arabic, began as part of a media literacy project, but has evolved into the successful launch of an independent media organization challenging the country's polarized media landscape.

Watch video of the launch of Sawt Ashabab here

The newspaper was founded by Dima Saber, a professor of media studies at Lebanon's Notre Dame University, and David Munir Nabti, CEO of RootSpace, an organization that works towards a sustainable, knowledge-based economy and society in Lebanon.

The first edition was launched to coincide with Lebanon's recent highly anticipated elections, pitting the US and Saudi backed March 14 bloc which won against the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance backed by Syria and Iran.

In a matter of a just a few weeks, Saber had gathered dozens of young volunteers from across Lebanon - many under Lebanon's 21-year-old voting age - who represent Lebanon's political, ethnic and religious divided.

The paper offers a sometimes cynical, though, informed commentary on Lebanese politics and society and the first edition was distributed in more than 50,000 copies of the two leading dailies, Al Akhbar and Al Nahar - each on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Sawt Ashabab taps into the frustration that many young Lebanese have with their standard of living, rampant unemployment and the cyclical nature of dirty politics.

The newspaper, written in Arabic and English, challenges all parties, mocking campaign ads, and even criticizing the parties' voter outreach initiatives which included flying in thousands of Lebanese citizens living abroad to participate in the elections.

While the future of Sawt Ashabab and Lebanon's political scene remains unclear, the successful launch of the newspaper reflects the possibility of change when determination and diversity is celebrated.

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About Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin grew up in California, Kuwait, Egypt and Austria. He has most recently worked as a news producer for The New York Times and as a web producer for the PBS international documentary series, Wide Angle. His work has been featured in Frontline/World online, TimeOut, Washington Week and other blogs. He graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where he know teaches a new media skills class. In 2008 Ahmed won a Webby award for a multimedia project called Defining Middle Ground: The Next Generation of Muslim New Yorkers. It can be seen here: www.definingmiddleground.com His portfolio website can be seen at: www.ahmedeldin.com His family is originally from Palestine

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