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Social and mainstream media join forces to cover Afghanistan election

Rivals currently claim to both be on track for victory in the Afghan elections, in a race watched closely by the world’s media – mainstream, citizen and social.

The Guardian, for example, reports that ‘President Karzai’s staff said he has taken a majority of votes, making a second round run-off unnecessary,’ while Abdullah’s spokesman, Sayyid Agha Hussain Fazel Sancharaki, said the former foreign minister ‘was ahead with 62 per cent of the vote,’ even though preliminary results are not yet expected.

But publicity hasn’t always been courted by the government: critics the world over were shocked by the Afghan foreign ministry’s demand for a media blackout. On Wednesday, the government ordered all journalists not to report acts of violence during its elections, as a last minute attempt to boost voter turn out.

Both the foreign and domestic media said they intended to ignore the ban. Rahimullah Samander, head of the Independent Journalist Association of Afghanistan said that they would ‘not obey this order’. “We are going to continue with our normal reporting and broadcasting of news,” he told the Associated Press.

Both domestic and foreign reporters turned out in force to cover yesterday’s election.  Although the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that there have been reports of at least three foreign journalists and several local journalists detained and other acts of aggression towards the media, it is believed that no one was seriously injured.

As with the Iranian election protests, yesterday highlighted the pivotal role social media and citizen journalists now play within mainstream news. Here are a few examples:

  • Alive in Afghanistan introduced a new system during yesterday’s elections allowing citizens to ‘report disturbances, defamation and vote tampering, or incidents where everything ‘went well’ via text message. BBC report at this link.
  • Demotix, the citizen-journalism and photography agency which saw its profile rise during the Iranian election protests, was also instrumental in documenting the day’s events. Follow Afghanistan photographs and stories at this link. “We’ve had reports from Kabul, Helmand, Kandahar and most other provinces during yesterday’s election and the preceding weeks. As well as the political campaigns, our reporters covered the fierce violence including last week’s Taliban attack on a NATO convoy,” said commissioning editor Andy Heath.
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BBC offers aggregation service with Topics pages

June 10th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Online Journalism

Following the review of bbc.co.uk in which the BBC Trust criticised the lack of internal navigation on the site, the Beeb has launched a beta aggregation service.

BBC Topics, which will have automatically updated pages, will cover people, countries or subjects.

“So topics uses a variety of search techniques to create feeds of the latest BBC content from news articles, programmes available to watch on iPlayer, weather forecasts, news videos, country profiles and information from the TV and radio schedules. BBC editors then add in hand-picked articles and features from around the BBC and other websites,” said Matthew McDonnell, portfolio executive, search and navigation, internet group, BBC Future Media and Technology, on the BBC Internet Blog.

The pages will present everything the BBC has on a certain topic, whether it is in or out of the news, McDonnell added.

Topics covered will be partly chosen in relation to the site’s search logs, as well as by what content is available.

Feeds to the pages from external sources are also in development, according to the blog post, which will please the Trust, who said the site should also be acting as a guide for users to outside content.

Only a few topics are being trialled so far, including China, David Cameron, NATO and dogs, but more will be added in the coming months, as will more forms of BBC content.

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