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Abstract

Many aspects make online media attractive to news readers, including low cost, ease and speed of access, and the opportunity for readers to ask questions, provide feedback, participate in discussions, and interact with other readers in ways not previously possible. Given that traditional media in the Arab world generally are subject to strict government control, the participatory features that accompany the new online media should make these sources even more attractive to users. However, comments posted by readers of online media in the Arab world are still subject to some monitoring and content regulation. This study explores the potential of online media in the Arab world to foster civic engagement. The online source selected for study is www.alarabiya.net, the official website for the popular TV station Al Arabiya in Dubai. Ethnographic observation and analysis of the content of articles published during the Iraq War on Al Arabiya’s site and the responses they received show that Arabs not only challenged the views of the Al Arabiya site about the war, but they also offered their own versions of the truth.