News Media and Political Change

Right now, this is a quick pointer to a couple of articles that are addressing the role of various media in documenting and potentially fostering political change. The first is an article from a British newspaper reporting that Al Jazeera English is currently in talks with a number of cable providers about carrying the network.  I’ve been fascinated by Al Jazeera ever since I saw Control Room, Jehane Noujaim’s documentary about the Qatar-based cable network back in 2004 at the Atlanta Film Festival, and like thousands of others, I have tried to follow the live feed of Al Jazeera English on the web (with little success in my case because my flash player keeps crashing), but given the complications associated with gaining access to what is happening on the ground in places like Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, this seems like a useful way of using our cable bandwidth to help people become more informed about these events. I’ve already contacted my cable provider to ask that they carry AJE and would encourage you to do the same.

On a related note, there is a New Tee Vee article arguing that Libyans “are turning” to YouTube and other sources to get around media blackouts.  The authors point to a CNN report stating that Libyan security forces are destroying cell phones and other recording devices at border checkpoints. But despite these crackdowns, literally thousands of videos tagged “Libya” have made it to YouTube, allowing users (presumably mot of whom are outside Libya) to see what is happening there, with YouTube working with Storyful to try to offer a more meaningful curation of all of the raw video that is being produced.


  1. ajuhasz Said,

    February 25, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    Chuck: Thanks for this report and link to New Tee Vee! It’s critical that the mediamakers know the power of their images, but they also need to be part of the control of its flow. Thus, I think that the work that Storyful is doing with CitizenTube is a big step forward in using YouTube as a platform to share (and curate) such images. Yet I continue to worry that images that move virally without context (in particular text that supplies history, cultural background) function like most viral media, slickly re-expressing what we already think.

  2. Chuck Said,

    February 26, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    You’re certainly right that there are dangers when images circulate without a proper context. I’m hopeful that Storyful will help provide meaningful curation. I also wonder what we might learn from comparing the circulation of videos via YouTube to their circulation on cable news. Obviously, there is a curation process there, but the filters used by news anchors (how does this affect gas prices?) are also (quite obviously) problematic.

  3. McChris Said,

    March 1, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    I got a Roku box over the weekend, and one pleasant surprise is that it has the live stream of Al Jazeera. It’s been nice this week while the NPR station here is on pledge drive.

  4. Chuck Said,

    March 1, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

    That does sound tempting. Because we have the Wii for streaming Netflix, I haven’t really thought about getting a Roku, but that’s a nice bonus.

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