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Voice of America: China’s Foreign Ministry questioned on Al Jazeera journalist visa issue

Image by jamiejohndavies on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Voice of America has published what it says is a transcript of questions put to the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, in relation to Al Jazeera English’s report that its China correspondent Melissa Chan had her visa renewal application “refused”.

Journalism.co.uk reported on Tuesday (8 May) that Al Jazeera English has closed down its Beijing bureau after Chan’s visa was apparently “refused” by authorities.

Al Jazeera said in its report “it is continuing to request a presence in China”.

Voice of America has published “a transcript of some of the questions and answers at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s daily briefing” in which a spokesman is said to have responded to questions from foreign journalists about what had happened.

Hong Lei: I have stressed that China welcomes foreign journalists to report in China and we have also provided convenience to foreign journalists in reporting objectively in China. I think you have been in China for several years and are very clear about this. At the same time I want to stress that foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations while reporting in China.

Read Voice of America’s full article here.

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Storify stories now on news reader app Pulse

April 19th, 2012 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Social media and blogging

Curated storytelling tool Storify has partnered with news reader app Pulse.

The move marks Storify’s first syndication deal and sees curated stories by Storify users such as Al Jazeera’s the Stream, the Washington Post and the White House communications team available on the social newsreader app.

Pulse, which is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook, allows readers to chose to add their favourite news providers and feeds giving a personalised reading experience.

A Storified blog post by the company explains how to add your Storify creations to your personalised Pulse app.

You can also see your stories – or any account’s stories – on Pulse by subscribing to the RSS feed at the top of Storify profile pages. Then call the feeds up from Google Reader on Pulse. You’ll be able to see all those accounts’ stories on Pulse from then on.
For more on the syndication deal see this Storify.

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Al Jazeera: Video filmed by Toulouse gunman did not meet code of ethics

March 28th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Al Jazeera English has said it will not broadcast footage filmed by a gunman who shot and killed seven people in southern France as it does not meet its code of ethics.

Three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi died in the three shooting attacks in Toulouse and Montauban earlier this month. Gunman Mohammed Merah died following a 30-hour siege.

The video, said to have been filmed by Merah and named “Al Qaeda attaque la France” – meaning “Al-Qaeda attacks France”, was reportedly “sent on a USB memory stick to Al Jazeera’s office in Paris”.

The broadcaster said it has passed it on to police.

The report on Al Jazeera’s website states: “The video shows the attacks in chronological order, with audible gunshots and voices of the killer and the victims. But it does not show the face of the confessed murderer, Mohammed Merah, and it does not contain a statement from him.

The network on Tuesday said the video did not add any information that was not already in public domain.

The report adds that Zied Tarrouche, Al Jazeera’s Paris bureau chief, said that “the images were a bit shaky but of a high technical quality”.

He also said the video had clearly been manipulated after the fact, with religious songs and recitations of Quranic verses laid over the footage.

Al Jazeera also reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday urged television networks not to broadcast the video and that family members of the victims have asked that the footage not be aired.

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Al Jazeera to broadcast Syria documentary filmed entirely on iPhone

In an interesting development for mobile journalism, Al Jazeera is due to broadcast a documentary tomorrow night (Wednesday, 14 March) on Syria which has been filmed by a journalist using just an iPhone due to safety concerns.

According to a press release, the film, called ‘Syria: Songs of Defiance‘, “follows the journalist, who is not named to protect the people he spoke to, on a journey amongst the uprising in Syria”.

At the start of the documentary, the release adds, the correspondent for Al Jazeera will be heard saying:

I can’t tell you my name. I’ve spent many months secretly in Syria for Al Jazeera.

I cannot show my face and my voice is disguised to conceal my identity, because I don’t want to endanger my contacts in Syria.

Because carrying a camera would be risky, I took my cell phone with me as I moved around the country and captured images from the uprising that have so far remained unseen.

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New York Times: Arab Spring reshapes market for TV news

October 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

The New York Times published an interesting article yesterday (30 October) on potential changes facing the Arab television news market, looking at the impact of both the Arab Spring and the impending influx of new providers, national and local.

As author Eric Pfanner writes, the area is “poised for a shot of new competition” with two 24-hour news channels in the pipeline: Alarab from media company Rotana, to be run in partnership with Bloomberg and Sky Arabia, to be launched by BSkyB in spring next year.

As well as this, following the uprisings across the Arab world, the industry may start to see more local media and new channels opening up, he adds.

One reason that news providers like Al Jazeera attracted such a large following was that they were beyond the control of authoritarian regimes in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, where governments kept the local media on a tight leash.

Now that those regimes have fallen, the local news media are moving toward greater openness, and new channels providing news and commentary on current events have sprung up.

This could eventually undermine the audience for so-called pan-Arab channels beamed in from outside via satellite, analysts say.

Read more on how the Arab Spring is reshaping the market for TV news.

 

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#followjourn – @AlanFisher Alan Fisher/journalist

October 21st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

Who? Alan Fisher

Where? Alan is senior correspondent for Al Jazeera English.

Twitter? @AlanFisher

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips, we are recommending journalists to follow online too. Recommended journalists can be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to rachel at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Al Jazeera calls for answers on whereabouts of journalist Dorothy Parvaz

Questions about the whereabouts of Al Jazeera English journalist Dorothy Parvaz remain unanswered this week, after going missing upon her arrival in Syria in April. Earlier this month Journalism.co.uk reported that Al Jazeera claimed to have been given information that Parvaz had been deported to Iran.

But on Saturday Al Jazeera reported that Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he had no information about her whereabouts.

Asked on Saturday whether Syria had handed over the journalist, Salehi said: “I have no information.” Salehi, speaking to Al Jazeera, had previously urged Syria to investigate Parvaz’s case.

In a statement Al Jazeera said it is continuing to call for information about the journalist’s whereabouts, access to her, and for her immediate release.

Though Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Foreign Minister, has said he has no information about her whereabouts, Al Jazeera has requested information from a number of ministries in Tehran in order to secure Dorothy’s release.

Yesterday, according to reports today such as this article by the Financial Times, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in a press conference that finding information on the “condition” of Parvaz is “important” for the country, but “stopped short of admitting that Ms Parvaz was in Iran”.

Mr Mehmanparast said that Ms Parvaz had attempted to enter Syria on “an expired Iranian visa” and “without a journalist visa” to report “clandestinely” to cover protests on behalf the Qatar-based broadcaster.

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Al Jazeera: Reports missing journalist Dorothy Parvaz has been deported to Iran

Al Jazeera reported today it has been given information that journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who was reportedly detained in Syria upon her arrival last month, has been deported from to Iran.

This information has come from Syrian officials, who had previously told Al Jazeera they were holding Dorothy in Damascus, and that they would be releasing her. Ms Parvaz was initially detained in Damascus 12 days ago.

Last month Al Jazeera confirmed its Arabic bureau in Syria had been suspended for safety reasons.

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How to: Create a Tumblr blog for your news organisation

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr is a very visual way of blogging. One of the many beauties of Tumblr is its simplicity and easy interface. You can create an account, choose a URL, select a design theme and create your first post in under five minutes.

It is free and it is social: users can reblog, flag up things they like and engage by asking questions and commenting. Since each Tumblr blog has its own URL, you don’t need to be a member to view posts.

Although it has been around since 2007, over the past year it has been growing at an incredible rate.

“Right now Tumblr serves up 5.7 billion pages each month; this is growing by 400 million more pages every week,” Mark Coatney from Tumblr told Journalism.co.uk.

Almost half the Tumblr pages viewed are from the US, but the UK Tumblr community is growing fast and it now has 4.5 million unique users and 8 per cent of page views making it the third largest country on Tumblr.

The US is first, with 32 million people visiting the site; Brazil second with 5.6 million.

News organisations are joining Tumblr.

.Guardian on Tumblr

Five of the best Tumblr news blogs are at this link.

Tumblr, which was started in New York in 2007, by David Karp when he was just 20, almost became too popular for its own good. In December, rapid expansion led to it being down for eight hours. It has since opened another data centre to cope with capacity.

How does it work?

Tumblr posting options

There are seven post types: text, photo, quote, link, chat, video, plus you can ask or answer questions.

You can post from the web-based dashboard or by downloading the free iPhone, Android or BlackBerry app.

There are also other options including posting links from Bookmarklet, publishing via email and other third party applications (find out more via the Goodies tab on the dashboard).

You can decide to follow people or organisations, much as you do on Twitter. You can reblog (similar to retweet) and “like” a story. Followers can also ask questions or leave messages. You can create a group blog so several members of a team can contribute (go to the dashboard and members).

Who should consider Tumblr?

News organisations and individuals.

There are some great examples of news organisations getting to grips with Tumblr with the Guardian leading the way in the UK. There are some great examples from the worlds of fashion and art.

Tumblr’s Mark Coatney pointed us in the direction of this Short Form Blog, a really nice independent site that does news analysis and curation.

Why use Tumblr?

To engage with the 4.5 million UK Tumblr users.

“Our use of Tumblr is neither a marketing exercise nor a means by which to generate simple click-throughs,” Stephen Abbott, executive producer at Guardian.co.uk told Journalism.co.uk.

“We launched the Tumblr because we wanted to engage with the Tumblr community and we’re always on the lookout for new communication tools which might help to improve or augment our editorial coverage.”

First things first

Get a feel for Tumblr and decide whether it is suitable for you or your news site.

“I would advise any journalists thinking about using Tumblr for their organisation to first get to grips with the nature of the platform and become familiar with the practices and tone used on Tumblr.

“Then they’ll be in a much better position to decide whether they could find a opening or niche on Tumblr which could be filled by their journalistic output,” Abbott explained.

Think about how you can engage without the Tumblr community and what you want to blog.

Perhaps you can use it for fashion and lifestyle, the best photography from your publication or as a way to connect readers with your newsroom. The Economist’s Tumblr blog includes its cartoons and front pages.

News organisations can use Tumblr “as a way into specific niches” of the organisations, Tumblr’s Mark Coatney advises.

“For instance, Washington Post does a very nice Tumblr blog just for their style section; this allows a specific kind of post reader another entry into the paper tailored just for them.”

The second piece of advice Coatney has is for organisations to use Tumblr “as a way to foster peer-to-peer communication between news organisation and reader”: GQ’s Tumblr, for instance, does an excellent job of using Tumblr’s “ask” feature (every Tumblr blog as an ask me a question page) to bring readers inside the GQ’s office.

His third piece of guidance is to use Tumblr “as a way to bring the intelligence of the newsroom to the public: CNN Money Tech has a group Tumblr that replicates the chatter that goes on in newsrooms every day; a cast of seven CNN reporters regularly dash off short notes and observations about stories they’re following throughout the day”.

Think visually. And also in terms of video and audio as Coatney explains.

Tumblr is a very visual platform; of the 25 million posts done every day on Tumblr, half of them are photos.

Posts with striking visuals tend to be reblogged more by other users as well, helping to spread the content quickly throughout Tumblr’s network.

The Guardian’s Stephen Abbott said: “We will often strive to post stories which have striking pictures or video to accompany the text of the post.

“But this doesn’t mean that we only post picture-led stories. As you can see from the variety of posts at guardian.tumblr.com, we like to try to post stories picked from a wide variety of sections on guardian.co.uk to showcase the breadth of content on our site.”

Along with receiving much attention for its use of Tumblr at SXSW, the Guardian has carried out two other experiments as part of its editorial coverage: this Glastonbury 2010 scrapbook and this one on untangling the web.

Think about who will manage it. Large news organisations use community editors.

“The Guardian Tumblr account is managed by our news community coordinators Laura Oliver and James Walsh,” Abbot explained.

“Laura and James work closely with our news desk editors on a wide variety of our coverage – from breaking news to long-form features – and they pick a variety of stories that they feel will be appropriate for Tumblr.”

Ready…

Now you have got a feel for Tumblr blogs you can create your account, which takes a few minutes. All you need is an email address, a password and a username, which will become part of your URL (thenews.tumblr.com)

Upload a picture/avatar. This is probably going to be your logo, perhaps the same as your Twitter thumbnail.

Tumblr themes

Now choose a design. You can opt for a free theme, pay for a premium one (costing between $9 and $49) or you can customise your own (perhaps with the help of a developer).

Look around at other examples and see what is most effective.

“We looked at many Tumblr accounts before creating the Guardian Tumblr in order to survey the enormous variety of designs and layouts available – but we didn’t copy any of these.

“Our designers came up with a look and feel for the Tumblr which was distinct to the Guardian but which capitalises on the strengths of Tumblr,” Abbott said.

Download the free smartphone app if you want to post from away from your desk/laptop.

Connect with Facebook and/or Twitter if you want your posts to be automatically added to your Facebook and Twitter news feeds (via customise on the dashboard). Bear in mind it will indicate that the post is via Tumblr.

Steady…

Consider other add ons. Tumblr supports short comments but you can also add your Disqus account you can also take advantage of Tumblr’s own back up tool. You can decide whether or not you want to embed the blog into your own website (via Goodies).

Get ready to analyse. Paste your Google Analytics code into your site description in the customize menu.

You’ll also be checking the notes section to see what has been reblogged.

You don’t necessarily have to heavily promote your Tumblr blog.

“We have alerted Guardian readers to the presence of the Guardian Tumblr via our main @Guardian Twitter account but, at present, we don’t promote the Guardian on Tumblr across our other platforms.” Abbott told us.

Go!

Start posting.

  • Go visual
  • Be conversational
  • Keep it short. One, two or three paragraphs and link additional background content
  • Don’t just promote your own content. For example, the LA Times has linked to an Economist article on California; Al Jazeera has posted third party content of a time lapse map of uprisings and protests
  • Tag tag tag. Tumblr is powered by tags
  • Reblog
  • Ask and answer

How did you get on? Let us know when your news organisation has set up a Tumblr account.

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Five stories to inspire you to try Storify – which anyone can now join

Anyone can now join multimedia storytelling platform Storify.

The site, which allows users to drag and drop elements such as tweets, audioboo recordings, photographs from Flickr and YouTube videos to tell a dynamic story, which can then be embedded on a news website or blog, was previously in private beta and an invitation was required. As of this week Storify is now in public beta.

Since its launch in September, private beta users have created more than 21,000 stories, according to this post.

Storify stories have been viewed more than 13 million times, 4.2 million views were in March. The stories generated have been embedded on more than 5,000 sites, including news sites from the New York Times, to the Guardian and BBC.

Here are five stories to inspire you to have a go:

1. The Stream, the daily television show powered by social media and citizen journalism on Al Jazeera English, has created this Storify story on Blogging from “Between the Bars”.

[View the story Blogging from "Between the Bars" on Storify]

2. The Wall Street Journal embedded this Storify story which asks where should New York place QR codes?
[View the story QR codes in New York City on Storify]

3. Storify received record views after March’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
[View the story Latest on Japan earthquake and tsunami on Storify]

4. BBC London curated the London marathon with Storify.
[View the story Your Story of Marathon 2011 on Storify]

5. And whether you love of hate the hype, the Royal Wedding will no doubt inspire more Storify stories, such as this one from ABC News.
[View the story UK gears up for royal wedding on Storify]

Do you have any useful tips for people using Storify? Please share them with Journalism.co.uk readers.

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