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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Aljazeera English

With social media largely silenced after the Egyptian government cut the Internet and mobile phones, the world is watching (and tweeting about) Al Jazeera’s live coverage. Al Jazeera English quickly became the leading source of live coverage from Cairo — both on TV and a live stream online.
“All day today I’ve been watching Al Jazeera English’s extraordinary coverage from across Egypt,” explained NPR social strategist Andy Carvin in a Poynter chat. “They have live video from a highrise office in Cairo. It’s very reminiscent of CNN and the start of the first Gulf War.”

At one point, police tried to break into Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau, but as of this hour, live coverage still continues. Al Jazeera told the NY Times that traffic for its live stream is 200 times normal, with 45 percent of the traffic coming from the United States. Their live blog is also popular, as well as tweets from @ajenglish and reporter Evan Hill (@evanchill).

Meanwhile, CNN and NBC have been able to broadcast from Egypt, going “old tech” to feed video out of the country. The communications crackdown hasn’t stopped both CNN’s Ben Wedeman (@bencnn) and NBC’s Richard Engel (@richardengelnbc) from sending a steady stream of tweets. One tweet from @bencnn described how Egyptian police broke one of the crew’s cameras.

But the heart of coverage from many of the cable news coverage is originating from Al Jazeera English. The network is even planning to make some of its compelling video available under a Creative Commons license. They said they’ll post it later tonight here.

“In many ways, it is Al Jazeera’s moment,” explains the NY Times. Which goes to show, while social media is a powerful new tool in covering news and organizing people, few things have the power of compelling live video, both on television and computer screens around the world.

Well.. it really is television streamed on the internet, but you're right that we should think of it in broader terms... so I tweaked to say "live video."

to fully understand why i jumped at our host, one need only to have followed @umairh from about 8a to 3p. today. for those who did not, it would be worth your while to go back. for those who are curious but don't have the time, i liken it to an 8 hour version of the "he's on a roll" scene from animal house, but as pertains to traditional media v. foreign media (like aj's) coverage of egypt.

secondly, i had just come over from where ben grossman was rating the networks' online coverage. they've since buried it, but it's worth digging up his latest entry on his bc blog. abc came in last by his account, but even more telling is what "new abc news chief ben sherwood" had to say about their giffords gaffe and the internet.

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