Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Upheavals, earthquakes, and my social media experience on Al Jazeera English

It almost didn’t happen. I was due to be a part of a discussion on Al Jazeera English (AJE), the international news channel, about the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year reign in Libya.

A half-hour before show time, I receive the following email in my inbox from a producer:

“We had an earthquake and all over the city people are standing outside their buildings,” the producer wrote. “I’m guessing we won’t get back in in time for today’s show. Perhaps we’ll shift our schedule to do it tomorrow, or another day.”

A quick look on the USGS website revealed a 5.9 earthquake had struck Virginia, shaking buildings in D.C. and New York. The Stream, the cutting-edge AJE news program that blends new and traditional media, might miss the historic event in Libya.

First, some background.

Al Jazeera English is an international news channel that is broadcast worldwide from Doha, London and Washington D.C., to an estimated audience of 150 million viewers in 100 countries.

Being headquartered in the East, Al Jazeera was uniquely positioned to report on the Arab Spring uprisings. Indeed, it capitalized on this major news event, and the AJE internet stream gained more than 1.6 million American viewers during the first months of the revolt.

The White House also took notice, and included AJE in its diet of international events coverage. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took notice of the network, and in a briefing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the quality of reporting on the international channel.

“You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners,” she said.

Perhaps no other AJE program has gained as much momentum during the Arab Spring as the new media experiment The Stream.

Broadcast daily from Monday through Thursday from the Washington D.C. studio, the Stream hosts a panel of two to three guests who have some kind of stake in a major news event. But that’s where the similarities between this and other current events programs end.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

U of I talks with prominent social media researchers now online

It’s been a year since the University of Illinois hosted the “Year of Social Media,” a lecture series that hosted people at the forefront of the social media revolution.

During the series, Fernanda B. ViĆ©gas from Google spoke about bringing powerful, yet simple to operate, computer visualization programs to the masses. An Oxford professor postulated whether the internet is really a “fifth estate,” or if cyber utopianism is a “net delusion.” And the Onion web editor talked about how a social media conversation doesn’t always yield positive results.

“The Onion is very much not interested in having a conversation with its community of viewers and listeners in social media,” the Onion’s Baratunde Thurston said during his lecture, before playing an Onion sketch of a television news anchor being berated by audience members through social media.

Videos of all the talks are now available on the event’s website. The seven lecture videos total more than ten hours of footage.

“We have invited prominent researchers who study social media, leading figures from the social media industry, and people who embody social media success stories,” the YISM website reads.

The program was organized by Karrie Karahalios, a computer science professor and graduate of the MIT Media Lab, and Christian Sandvig, an Associate Professor of Communication, Media & Cinema Studies, Library & Information Science. Sandvig is also a Research Associate Professor at the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

Abstracts of the speakers, obtained from the YISM website, are listed after the break. For the full videos, please visit