Tag Archives: egypt

Leaks on demand – how the Wikileaks cables are being used

From a leak to a flood

Image by markhillary on Flickr

I’m probably not the only person to notice a curious development in how the Wikileaks material is being used in the press recently. From The Guardian and The Telegraph to The New York Times and The Washington Post, the news agenda is dictating the leaks, rather than the other way around.

It’s fascinating because we are used to seeing leaks as precious journalistic material that forms the basis of some of our best reporting. But the sheer volume of Wikileaks material – the vast majority of which still remains out of the public domain – has turned that on its head, with newsrooms asking: “Do the leaks say anything on Libya/Tunisia/Egypt?”

When they started dealing with Wikileaks data some newsrooms built customised databases to allow them to quickly find relevant documents. Recent events have proved that – not to mention the recruitment of staff who can quickly interrogate that data – to be very wise.

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Matt Wells on The Guardian’s interactive protests Twitter map

Twitter network of Arab protests - interactive map | guardian.co.uk

Twitter network of Arab protests – interactive map | guardian.co.uk

The Guardian have published an impressive map displaying Twitter coverage of protests around the Arab world and the Middle East. I asked Matt Wells, who oversaw the project, to explain how it came about.

The initial idea, which I should credit to deputy editor Ian Katz, was to build something that showcased the tweets of our correspondents, along a broader network of vetted tweeters in different countries. We wanted to connect all of these on a map, so you could click on a country and see relevant live-updating tweets.

I was asked to oversee it. The main thing was to check out the best English-language tweeters in each country – preferably people who appeared reliable, who were involved in first-hand reporting themselves, and who did a lot of retweeting of others.

I started by asking our correspondents who they followed, then broadened it out from there. We asked everyone if they minded being included – we had one refusal from a Tweeter in a particularly authoritartian country who was worried about the exposure. Everyone else thought it was a great idea.

Meanwhile one of our developers, Garry Blight, overseen by Alastair Dant, set about building it. As with anything of this kind, it took a bit longer than orginally anticipated, but we had it ready on the day that Mubarak fell. And brilliantly, it has worked for every country since then.

It’s powered by a Google spreadsheet – so it’s really easy to add new people and to attach them to particular countries or search terms.

And it should be very easily adaptable for other news events around the world.

Twitter promoted tweets – the AdWords for live news?

Al Jazeera sponsored Twitter tweet on Egypt
Remember all that fuss about newspapers bidding on Google Adwords to drive traffic to their site? Well here’s a Web 2.0 twist on the idea: Al Jazeera using sponsored tweets to raise awareness of their Egypt coverage.

Twitter itself has the background. Some notable differences to Adwords are that the promoted tweets can be replied to and retweeted just like any other Tweet.

Also, interestingly, “according to Riyaad Minty, head of social media at Al Jazeera English, the @AJEnglish team is operating their Promoted Tweets campaign just like a news desk.” That’s because the content is the advertising, rather than the advertising driving users to the content.

Some metrics to come out of this, according to Twitter (they’re linking to evidence here):

H/t Laura Oliver

Review: The Blogging Revolution by Antony Loewenstein

From the Baghdad Blogger to Twittering the Chinese Earthquake, plenty has been written about the potential of blogs to allow Western readers access to foreign voices: the ‘Parachute Journalism’ of ‘Our Man in Tehran’ is appearing increasingly anachronistic and paternalistic next to the experiences and thoughts of those caught in the crossfire.

Despite this, mainstream media portrayals of countries like Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China remains largely superficial.

This is the problem that Antony Loewenstein seeks to address with The Blogging Revolution (Amazon US) – a book which is as much about bloggers as it is a demonstration of what blogging has made possible. Continue reading