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