The Nation, Linguistic Pluralism and Youth Digital News Media Consumption in Morocco Open Access
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With the rising rate of Internet penetration in Morocco, digital media, including social media, represent an increasingly important role in the spread of news in Moroccan society. In general, young Moroccans are the most digitally literate in the country and consume a wide range of online media. In the context of Morocco’s complex and plural linguistic landscape, language abilities and preferences add an additional layer to the study of the spread of digital media. This study uses a mixed methods approach involving a researcher-designed online survey of 193 Moroccans between the ages of 18 and 35 as well as 34 in-person semi-structured interviews with students attending four Moroccan universities in order to examine the news media consumption habits of young Moroccans, focusing on the intersection of language preferences, digital media choices and Moroccan nationhood. This study demonstrates that young Moroccans appear to possess a certain flexible news citizenship, allowing for a unified sense of the Moroccan nation despite linguistic differences. Overall, young Moroccans tend to rely on indigenous Moroccan digital news media outlets, such as Hespress, as well as foreign news sources, for daily news; both of these types of media are outside of the state- and party-run news media system, which includes the majority of television and radio channels and many print newspapers. While different language ideologies and their supporters do exist in Morocco, the “imagined community” of Morocco continues despite these linguistic distinctions. In contrast to concerns that new media will result in a fragmentation of the public sphere, the Moroccan case seems to show instead digital news media reinforcing an existing unified nation across linguistic difference.