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#jpod – Dying for the story: Citizen journalism and the Arab spring

March 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Podcast

Much has been written about the tragic deaths of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, French photographer Remi Ochlik and other reporters who have died since the Arab uprisings began.

But what about the citizen journalists who have been killed before and since Colvin and Ochlik?

How many people armed with a camera lens or mobile phone to bring the world images from Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere have been killed?

In this podcast Journalism.co.uk technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to Frank Smyth, executive director of private firm Global Journalist Security and part-time senior advisor for journalist security for the Committee to Protect Journalists, about the dangers and the risks being taken by citizen journalists.

The podcast also hears from Haret Alfasi, a Libyan raised in the UK who runs LibyaFeb17.com, a site he used to curate and translate citizen journalist reports from Libya; Khalil Ghorbal, co-founder of Le PaCTE Tunisien and one of the project leaders of Speak Out Tunisia, which offers training for citizen journalists in Tunisia; and Omar Hamilton, an activist and filmmaker and co-founder of Egyptian citizen journalist collective Mosireen.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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CPJ: 141 attacks on journalists and news facilities in Egypt since 30 Jan

February 10th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Press freedom and ethics

The Committee to Protect Journalists claims to have documented at least 141 “direct attacks” on journalists and news facilities in Egypt since 30 January.

The CPJ, which says it is also investigating “numerous other reports” has compiled a link list of its daily coverage of the anti-government protests detailing the cases.

“The authorities say everything is being done to protect journalists, but reports of harassment and intimidation continue,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Shifting from a tactic of outright violence against journalists to one of erecting bureaucratic obstacles is not fooling anybody. Cairo must allow all journalists to report unhindered.”

Full post on the CPJ site at this link.

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Journalist resigns from Egypt’s Nile TV over ‘propaganda’

Nile TV anchorwoman Shahira Amin resigned today in protest at the state run channel’s coverage of the Egyptian uprising. She spoke to pan-Arabic broadcaster Al Jazeera about the reasons behind her decision.

I am determined to be on the side of the people, not the regime. That’s why I’m here.

I walked out yesterday, I can’t be part of the propaganda machine. I’m not going to feed the public lies.

Amin claimed that Nile TV was showing footage of President Mubarak’s supporters only, and not footage of protests and violence in Tahrir Square.

Listen to the full interview on YouTube below.

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Keeping track of journalists tweeting from Egypt

We’ve set up this Storify post to keep track of some of the Western journalists in Egypt via their Twitter accounts.

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BuzzMachine: ‘Cable companies, add Al Jazeera English NOW!’

Writing on his BuzzMachine blog, Jeff Jarvis has called for US cable networks to start carrying Al Jazeera’s English-language network.

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera has been covering the civilian unrest in Egypt but was effectively shut down by the Egyptian government on Sunday, according to reports. In the following days Al Jazeera journalists have been reportedly arrested and detained in the country.

Jarvis acknowledges that Al Jazeera English is available to stream online but tells cable companies that this just isn’t enough.

Yes, we can watch AJE on the internet. But as much of an internet triumphalist as I am, internet streaming is not going to have the same impact–political and education impact–that putting AJE on the cable dial would have. I can watch AJE in the Zurich hotel room where I am now; I want to be able to watch it on my couch at home.

Full post on BuzzMachine at this link.

The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog has also picked up on the difficulty of accessing Al Jazeera English from within the US. Media Reporter Brian Stelter talks about the issue in an NYT video.

As the uprising in Egypt nears its second week, a lot of people are calling this Al Jazeera’s moment. The Qatar-based broadcaster has been showing us pictures that most US broadcasters haven’t been able to get … Al Jazeera also has an English-language channel, but a lot of people don’t know it because it’s very hard to access in the United States … Most of us can’t watch it in the US unless we watch on our computers.

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BBC World Service: Podcast: Citizen journalism – democracy or chaos?

September 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Editors' pick

In this BBC World Service audio documentary, broadcaster Michael Buerk discusses citizen journalism and its impact on the developing world.

Buerk discusses the implications for Egypt and the effect of citizen journalism on reporting on Myanmar.

Download the podcast at this link…

Other episodes in the series are available from the World Service’s documentary website.

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Walter Cronkite: death of America’s ‘most trusted’ news voice

July 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism

WalterCronkite1-799355America has lost a top celebrity anchorman, whose news delivery was so influential, he came to be called ‘the most trusted man in America’.

He died peacefully at his home, on Friday July 17, at the age of 92.

Walter Cronkite was an anchorman for CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, reading news including a wide range of historical events: the moon landings, Watergate, John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Vietnam war.

He had a reassuring manner of delivering the news that inspired confidence and trust in the audience. Every evening 70 million Americans heard him deliver his broadcast, which invariably concluded with the parting words “And that’s the way it is.”

He was born Walter Leland Cronkite Jr on November 4th, 1916 in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of a dentist. As a teenager, his family moved to Houston, where he had his first junior reporter job at The Houston Post – and at the same time delivering the very paper for which he worked.

Known for his trademark clipped moustache and grave voice, he was affectionately known as Uncle Walt, owing to a resemblance to Walt Disney. Despite his popularity, Cronkite was uncomfortable with his celebrity status and declined a proposal for a Walter Cronkite fan club saying: “I don’t think news people ought to have fan clubs.” He also brushed aside suggestions for him to stand for vice-president, even president. The only job he had ever wanted was that of reporter.

No amount of friendship or adulation could compromise Cronkite’s journalistic integrity. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said, “When I wanted to make a point Cronkite was the first person I would call. I was sure I was getting a fair interview – tough but fair.”

Some of Cronkite’s finest moments:

  • 1963: Assassination of President John F . Kennedy: Walter Cronkite famously displays a rare show of emotion, taking off his glasses to fight back tears as he announces the death of President Kennedy. Video below:

  • 1968: Vietnam War: After visiting Vietnam in 1968, he called the war ‘a stalemate’ and made his pro-peace stance clear. His views were so influential that, having watched the broadcast, the then US President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said, “I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Two weeks later  Johnson resigned and announced he would not stand for re-election. Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam War.
  • 1977: Cronkite’s interview with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin led to Sadat visiting Jerusalem and signing the peace accords the following year at Camp David.

Cronkite retired from from the CBS evening news programme in 1981, handing it over to Dan Rather, but continued producing special reports for the CBS network and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour. In 1983 he covered the general elections in the UK for ITV and interviewed Margaret Thatcher.

He is survived by a son, two daughters and four grandsons.

Useful related links:

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BBC Arabic Service: Blogger and journalist tweet from Egyptian custody

Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas and Palestinian journalist Laila El Haddad used Twitter to update their followers on time spent in custody in Egypt.

“Such direct communication with members of the public causes discomfort among the ruling elites in countries that aren’t used to transparency and such open and immediate sharing of information,” says the report.

Full report at this link…

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Thoughts from Doha: a Q&A with Al Jazeera’s Tarek Esber

Tarek Esber is senior analyst for Al Jazeera Mobile & New Media and based in Doha. Intrigued by his recent online updates, Journalism.co.uk sent him over a few questions. Firstly, we asked him specifically about the Al Jazeera forum which took place last month, and then asked for more general observations about use of social and new media in the Arab world.

So, we noticed you tweeting from the fourth Al Jazeera forum last month – what was that all about? [TE] The Fourth Al Jazeera Forum was built on the success of past Al Jazeera Forums to debate, discuss, and extend the discourse on the critical dynamics of the Middle East in the context of a globalised world. The forum focused on key topics such as the new players in this emerging multi-polar world, the historical context of the power shifts, and the media’s role in this new political landscape. In addition, two case studies examined the war on Gaza and the instability in the Indian subcontinent. The forum was attended by an international mix of journalists, analysts, strategists, academics, and intellectuals to help bring these issues into focus, as well as leading thinkers and strategists were present to explore the evolving face of the region, its place in the global landscape, and the challenges in reporting it in depth. Speakers spoke in either Arabic or English, sometimes both, and live translation was available in English and Arabic.

What were personal highlights for you? This was my first forum so the whole event was a highlight for me. In particular though was the fact that the Creative Commons Team were there with Joi Ito, their CEO, chairing the first Workshop at the Forum – ‘Building Successful Media Projects in Open Networks’.

That particular workshop had a fascinating discussion about how media organisations can open up their content to their advantage. Our Creative Commons repository came up as an example of this as well as the new US government’s use of CC Licences.

Another personal highlight was the case study about the reporting of the War on Gaza, especially having the opportunity to hear Robert Fisk talk about that conflict. The discussion was particularly interesting to me, given the role Social Media played in the PR battle between the two sides. It was also the first major conflict that we as a New Media team had been able to cover using a variety of New Media tools.

We picked up your comment via Twitter that quoted Al Jazeera English managing director Tony Burman: “Western interest in our [Gaza] content being distributed via New Media shows demand for our kind of message/method” 

What are your thoughts on that, as a member of the new media team? I should add that quote to my list of personal Highlights. Tony Burman was referring to the reaction our New Media initiatives received during the War on Gaza.

I think it’s great and as a New Media Team it’s exactly what we aim to do. A major part of our job is discovering new methods of communication – using the latest tools and services to reach out to and interact with new audiences. Inevitably most of the people using these new services tend to be based in the west.

There was also a huge amount of interest in the Twitter feed we set up just for news about the Gaza conflict. 5,000+ followers from all around the world and for a lot of them it was their first exposure to News from Al Jazeera. The feedback we got was fantastic.

Our Livestation stream, which allows anyone who has an internet connection to watch our English and Arabic channels live for free, also proved very popular. During the War on Gaza viewer figures shot up six-fold and the largest pool of viewers were in North America, a traditional dark zone for Al Jazeera. We’re working on that. Since the War on Gaza we’ve started to make a push to get Al Jazeera English broadcast in Canada and the USA: the IWantAJE.com site gives more information.

Our YouTube channels, in Arabic and English, were just as important. They have always been extremely popular but during the time of conflict we were one of the most viewed channels on there.

Did you find the Twitter activity surrounding the forum useful / something to learn from in future? We hadn’t planned to do anything on Twitter for the Forum this year. It was really a spur of the moment thing – I was at this Forum and a lot of very interesting things were being said. My natural urge was to tweet the most interesting parts especially as this was an invite-only event.

This was a personal reaction rather than a Al Jazeera New Media Team initiative. Some of the other members of the team were tweeting in Arabic as well and we set-up a Hastag (#AJForum09) for people to follow. It was all done using our personal accounts.

In the future, and we already have plans to do this for the AJ Film Festival this month, we might be better off setting up an official channel for the Forum so people can tune in specifically to hear what is going on rather than tweet from my personal account. It’s certainly clear that the interest is there. We’re also thinking about other things we can do for the next Forum such as taking questions via Twitter and trying to get some of the live streams online.

What are the most salient points about new media that came out of the forum? Well we’ve already talked about most of the larger points: The Creative Commons repository and the potential for Open Networks, our work during the War on Gaza and how New Media is helping Al Jazeera reach new audiences.

In the ‘Reporting from the Fragile World: Can the Global Media Reconcile with Changes in the Middle East’ session, New Media came up quite often, especially the online PR battle during the War on Gaza came up a few times. The extensive use of social media tools by both sides was unprecedented, especially the amount of preparation the Israeli government did before the conflict started.

In the same session some good points were made by Fahmi Howeidy, an Egyptian columnist and author, about political bloggers in Egypt. He mentioned that in Egypt, people under 30 don’t read papers, they read blogs as it is their method of escaping the government’s oppression of the media.

He also said that, while he didn’t feel political bloggers had much of an effect on government policy in Egypt, what they had done is made people aware of the governments attempts to control the media and dissenting voices.

He said that in the past, when journalists were arrested and imprisoned for speaking against the government, there wasn’t much national or international outcry but when bloggers were arrested, there was. This took away the impression that government officials were ‘Gods’ – it humanised them which means that they can be held accountable for their actions.

How does uptake/use of new media differ in the Arab and western world? Very interesting question, and it’s something I’ve been learning a lot about since moving to Al Jazeera in Doha from the UK. It’s hard to generalize about the Arab world as a whole as it’s really a diverse region in many ways.

Social media, in particular, seems to have really been embraced in the Arab world. There are more and more interesting Arab voices in the blogosphere everyday opening up their cities, their lives and their countries policies to the whole world. There are also a good number of Arab Social Media Services and more are being created every month. There is WatWet, the Arab Twitter and Ikbis which is usually referred to as the Arab YouTube. There are also Arab blogging platforms such as Maktoob.

But I digress from the question: How does it differ to the west? When I think about new media in the Arab world the first thing that comes to mind is constraints. There are technological constrains in some parts of the Arab world – good internet connectivity can be very expensive and might not be widely available. Hosting can also be an issue. Local hosting companies are rare in some parts and are usually expensive. Western hosting can be bought but the cost is still high.

Then there is censorship. In some Arab countries you can’t access services like Blogger or YouTube. In others you might be able to get started but soon find that if your content isn’t acceptable then your site might be blocked.

The biggest difference for me though is the reason people use the services. I feel that in some parts of the Arab world the services are mainly used as a way to escape restrictions in daily life. As with the example above about Egypt, it gives young people the chance to talk about their lives and their governments in a way they can’t do in public. That’s not to say people in the west don’t do the same, I just get the impression that it’s more widespread in the Arab world.

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WAN: Arab Press Forum protests against travel restrictions

“Delegates to the Arab Free Press Forum have condemned travel restrictions imposed by authorities in several Arab countries that prevented some speakers and participants from attending the event,” reports the World Association of Newspapers.

Several journalists who were due to participate were prevented from travelling from Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Libya and Syria.

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