Some good photographs from Egypt here by 23-year-old photographer Andrew Burton, looking not so much at the moments of confrontation but the interim moments, the ordinary moments of life in the midst of a violent uprising.
The recent protests in Egypt have been recorded as the “biggest international story in a single week” in the past four years by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s News Coverage Index.
According to the Pew report the stories accounted for 20 per cent of the ‘newshole’ – the space devoted to each subject in print and online and time on radio and TV – from 24 to 30 January and then 56 per cent from 31 January to 6 February . This went beyond any coverage of the Iraq war, the Haiti earthquake and the conflict in Afghanistan, the report adds.
One reason for the extraordinary level of coverage thus far has been journalists’ access to the scenes of protests and violence in Egypt that they have transmitted to US news audiences. That has been borne out by this finding from the News Coverage Index: In the past two weeks―from January 24-February 6―almost half (45 per cent) of all the stories about the unrest studied by PEJ have been reported directly from Egypt and neighboring countries.
Al Jazeera has started paying for tweets to promote its English-language Egypt coverage in the US.
Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog compares the move to newspapers using Google Adwords to drive traffic to their sites – except that the sponsored tweets can be replied to and re-tweeted just like any other.
Twitter’s media team says Riyaad Minty, head of social media at Al Jazeera English, is operating the campaign like a news desk.
It also claims that Twitter has helped drive Al Jazeera site traffic up by 2,500 per cent in the last month and that the English language version is on course to triple its number of followers.
An Egyptian photographer has become the first journalist to die covering the anti-Mubarak protests.
Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, who worked for Al-Ta’awun, died from gunshot wounds sustained a week ago when he was shot by a sniper.
Journalists face ongoing attacks and detentions in Cairo. The Committee to Protect Journalists has compiled a round-up of the latest attacks on the press.
Followers of the Guardian’s Egypt protests live blog in the last few days may have noticed short passages of Arabic text appearing amid the blog’s customary roster of updates, summaries and other multimedia.
Then later an entire news article or two appearing on the site in the unfamiliar language.
I spoke to blogs editor Matt Wells about the decision to translate the Guardian’s coverage into Arabic.
It began a few days back when one of the newspaper’s journalists suggested embedding Google’s translate button, which automatically translates any webpage, into the live blog. With independent news organisations such as Al Jazeera harassed by the state and foreign journalists reportedly suffering obstruction and detention, impartial Arabic-language news is not necessarily readily available in Egypt.
“The news there is dominated by state-run media,” Wells said, “and unofficial sources are mostly in English or under-resourced.”
Online translation services, however, are generally not very accuarate, even if Google has come a long way since the early days of Yahoo’s BabelFish.
The Guardian asked a native Arabic speaker in the office to take a look, and she confirmed that it “wasn’t exactly 100 per cent accurate”.
Then the blogs team put it to the readers, asking, what do you think of the Google translate service? We’ve had our native Arabic speaker cast her eye over it and don’t think it’s accurate enough.
Proving that reader comments aren’t the trash they get slated as by some, one reader joined the dots that the staff hadn’t.
If you have a native Arabic speaker, why don’t you translate some of it yourself?, they asked.
And so the Guardian started publishing live blog summaries in Arabic, and will be translating two or three news articles a day with the help of a professional service, Wells said.
“Clearly we are not going to become an Arabic news service, but we saw it as a useful feature.
“It is more of a gesture to our readers to show that we are appreciative of our audience in that region and of the fantastic response we’ve had.”
Wells said that the Guardian’s commitment to community management was key to the live blogging strategy, especially with coverage like that of the Egypt protests. The paper has two dedicated community managers – Laura Oliver and James Walsh – who sit and work with the news teams but “have the specific brief of engaging with readers in the comments below the line and on Twitter.”
That means flagging up useful information posted by users, pulling material into the live blogs from elsewhere and responding to comments or letting reporters know when it might be best for them to do so. It is a role that the Guardian is serious about developing, Wells said.
“It results in a much more engaged and two-way conversation with the users.”
As for the live blogging, there is no doubt that the Guardian likes, and does a lot of it. With more than 250,000 hits a day for the Egypt live blog alone, Wells called it the “centrepiece” of the paper’s coverage.
“This time it really feels like we’ve pushed on the form again.”
Arabic television network Al Jazeera has reported that its Cairo office has been attacked by “a gang of thugs”.
According to the network’s report, the office has “been burned along with all the equipment inside it.”
Al Jazeera’s Cairo office was reportedly shut down last Sunday, following the network’s coverage of protests in the country, with staff stripped of their press credentials and detained.
It has since reported interference with its coverage and, this morning, the replacing of a banner advert on its site by hackers with a slogan reading “Together for the collapse of Egypt”, which linked to a page criticising the broadcaster.