Tag Archives: Arab Spring

Video: Freelance foreign correspondent discusses reporting from Yemen and Libya

GRN, an agency for foreign correspondents, has posted a video interview with freelancer Portia Walker.

In the first in a series of interviews from GRN, Walker talks about her year covering the Arab spring in Yemen and Libya.

A former TV current affairs producer with Al Jazeera English, Walker explains how she moved to Yemen just before the Arab spring began.

She speaks about the “baptism of fire” in reporting from Yemen for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Washington Post and the Economist as well as GRN’s TV and radio clients.

Expecting to spend time in Libya researching features, she found she was spending her time “daily news reporting” which “did not go down well at some times with the authorities” and led to her arrest a gun point.

You can find out more about GRN in this Q&A interview and read guide on how to become a roaming reporter.

The video interview is below.

#news2011: Editors need to ‘enable journalists to step back and go beyond the wires’

In this morning’s sessions at the Global Editors Network summit an interesting discussion took place which aimed to look at the lessons from two major events in the past year: the Arab spring and Fukishima.

Focusing first on the Arab spring, Al Jazeera English’s head of online Mohamed Nanabhay told the conference that social media “amplified” the voices of those involved and helped citizens “reach out”, and once the media started reporting “people felt braver” to do so.

Once mainstream media came in it reached 90 per cent of society, this provided an effect … people felt braver because the media were covering it, and they felt if the media are covering it hopefully there are checks and balances on power.

Moving to the issues in Japan, fellow speaker Joichi Ito, director of the MIT media lab, accused the mainstream media of “not digging very deep” in its coverage of Fukishima.

Today people are very disillusioned. There is a huge loss of confidence in media and official sources.

He also called for greater integration of programming, data analysis and statistics in the newsroom.

I don’t think most media has the practice of doing data analysis … in Japan need journalists to look at the data and not at the experts.

Nanabhay added news outlets need to “inspire curiosity in journalists”.

It’s very difficult for people to step back and think about the story further than the deadline. Editors need to allow journalists to step back, go beyond the wires and press releases. They need the ability to think critically about the problem, to be a problem solver. The environment might have changed … but if you have curious mind that’s what you really need.

Interestingly, in following his comments on curiosity in journalism, he said that when it comes to traffic Al Jazeera “keep numbers away from journalists”, explaining that the broadcaster does not seek to measure stories based on traffic results, so as not to influence the stories journalists wish to cover and to let their curiosity be decided by the need for stories to be told, rather than those which may appeal to more eyeballs online.

New York Times: Arab Spring reshapes market for TV news

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.