Burman was, however, not overly optimistic and said that he thought it would be the BBC’s win. However, “next year will be the Gaza year and we will be here again,” he told the group. We’ll report back with an update tomorrow.
Burman’s message was clear: the channel is increasingly strengthening its reputation (that includes within the US, he said) and he emphasised that the fact it broadcasts to nearly 140 million households, after two years on air (it launched in November 2006) was a feat he considered very impressive. Getting Al Jazeera onto the satellite and cable networks in North America is a priority, he said.
So, here a few of the things that were discussed. Journalism.co.uk will be following up in more detail on these and other points raised, in due course.
Tony Burman said that ‘coverage was really very comprehensive’ and that the reaction to the channel’s output ‘was a reminder that there is a hunger in the world, to get a sense of what is going on’.
The Al Jazeera site had, at times, seen a 600 per cent increase in traffic during Gaza coverage, he said.
Because Israeli, as well as other international media couldn’t access the area either during parts of the conflict, Al Jazeera was watched by a bigger Israeli audience too, he said.
Sherine Tadros, who said it was just ‘chance’ that she ended up reporting from the ground (she is normally the Jerusalem correspondent) said that ‘everything was a risk’. ‘There was no green zone,’ she added. She ‘wasn’t meant to be there’ she joked.
Tadros was asked to go and do a feature from the region before the media clamp-down became apparent, and she hadn’t even packed clothes to take, thinking that her stay would be brief.
To be the only English channel on the ground could be a ‘one-off experience’ during her career, she said. While she thrived on being part of the only English-language media team on the ground – ‘everything we did was exclusive’ – Tadros was aware of the responsibility to cover as much as possible for an English speaking audience.
There was no way they could go away and ‘Google’ for additional information, for example, she said. All the information from the ground had to be gathered by themselves directly. While Tadros said she was already quite familiar with the region, she also had to adapt very quickly to the surroundings and context, she said.
Ayman Mohyeldin described how other international broadcasters were eager to use their material and how he did then feed back to US networks. One of the main differences between the Arabic and English coverage was the level of detail in the reports, he said.
Reports can’t assume context for an English-language audience, whereas an Arab audience has grown up very aware of 60 years of history, he said. As a result, English coverage must supply more detail and background. So while the English and Arabic channels worked closely via multimedia channels (there is a joint new media team) and shared information and sources in their newsrooms, the output can vary.
The style of English reporting is also different, Tadros added. Whereas an Arabic channel might do one hour of footage inside a hospital, that wouldn’t be something they would necessarily do on the English channel.
Expanding into Africa:
With a good presence in Nairobi, Zimbabwe and Johannesburg they’re keen to meet the needs of a ‘growing’ African audience, Burman said.
In regards to whether a full bureau would be opening in Nairobi (to add to bureaux in Washington, Doha, London and Kuala Lumpur), Burman was hesitant. In the current economic climate he ‘can’t talk about expansion,’ he said. For now, little is being said about big investments he explained, adding that Africa is a very important region for them and more correspondents would be added around the continent.
Well, we could have brought you ‘Flocking Around the Twitmas Tree’, ‘We Three Nings’ or just a straightforward end of the year list (if only to add to our list of lists), but instead we chose this: your sing-along treat to round-up 2008 is the ‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas’ (hyperlinked to relevant stories, but bear in mind it’s a selection of picks and not comprehensive…).
On the first day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … An editor in a law court
… Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!
On the eleventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eleven papers packing
… Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!
On the twelfth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Twelve sites a-starting
… Eleven papers packing, Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks and an editor in a law court!
The online launches coincide with sister print title launches in the territories. Developments in Hong Kong will bring the total number of international Time Out web/print publications to 24 in 18 countries including Sydney, Kiev and New York.
Time Out, which also launched in Barcelona in January, plans seven further launches in 2008, including titles in Belgrade, Budapest, Bangkok and Jakarta.