What role did social media play in the news coverage of 2011 Egyptian revolution?

23 February 2011

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Introduction
This research is part of a wider piece of introductory training in how to use social media in journalism, specifically for real-time reporting, that I conducted in February 2011 for the Foreign Press Association. It seeks to show, using the example of the Egyptian protests, the many ways in which social media is being integrated into journalism practice and also a few lessons to bear in mind when doing so. The focus is mostly on English language media, but I would be delighted to hear of anyone doing similar research for Arabic language media.

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Journalists on the ground used Twitter to report in real-time

This then got picked up by other media
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2011/01/31/exp.piers.twitter.reporter.cnn http://twitter.com/#!/ssirgany
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Journalists (and activists) uploaded photographs in real time and when they had internet connections

http://www.demotix.com/news/570090/thousands-protest-tahrir-square-cairo http://twitpic.com/3vjpfs http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=egypt%20protests&w=all
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

As well as activists placing videos on YouTube broadcasters placed clips and footage on the site
In addition to telling the story, this enables viewers to share footage on their own websites, blogs and social networks such as Facebook. The clips are often free of voice-over commentary enabling them to be accessible to a wider number of people. Russia Today and Al Jazeera often use this method of distribution.
Source: Russia Today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xWiBCIxjIk
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Journalists and editors also used social media to link to other information and stories on their own news operations and others

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, used Facebook throughout the uprising
http://www.facebook.com/kristof?v=wall
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

The use of English was a factor
‡
Tweets/Facebook updates went out from Middle East journalists in English as well as Arabic This increased the likelihood of being picked up by western media and other English speakers Al Jazeera English in particular benefited from this, as their output was picked up and used by other media, particularly in the US.

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© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Social media was used to repeat and track what was being said, photographed and videoed by Egyptians, activists and those involved
Some examples

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Facebook ² Mohamed Elbaradei fan page
This is the Facebook fan page of Mohamed Elbaradei, maintained by Google employee Wael Ghonim. Ghonim was held for 11 days during the uprising. The page continues to be updated with information from followers.
http://www.facebook.com/Elbarad3i
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Twitter - @acarvin Andy Carvin, senior strategist in social media at NPR in the US, averaged 400 tweets a day during the protests to amplify the voices and news coming out of Egypt on Twitter, he said«

http://twitter.com/#!/acarvin http://tweetstats.com/graphs/acarvin
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Andy Carvin«
´...When I first started [using Twitter to report Egyptian developments], I was just casually retweeting stuff from sources I found interesting. But as things intensified, I basically decided to drop everything I was working on and focus on capturing as much as possible regarding what was going on there. As the week went on, I found myself putting in 1215 hour days, getting up really early to catch up on what·d happened overnight, keeping at it until past midnight, then starting again the next morning.µ
Sources:http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2011/02/04/interview-with-andycarvin-on-curating-twitter-to-watch-tunisia-egypt
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

And its value?
´It·s not just a means to get a lot of tweets out there. I see curation as a serious form of narrative³one that we·re just beginning to recognize. I·m still not sure if it·s more art than journalism (or social responsibility for that matter), but I·ve discovered that it·s a medium that I·m at home in. And if I can help inform people in the process, so much the better.µ

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2011/02/04/interview-with-andy-carvin-oncurating-twitter-to-watch-tunisia-egypt
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Twitter hashtags
ABC·s Diane Sawyer in front of a Tweetdeck screen following different hashtags

#egypt #25january #mubarak
Source: http://media.twitter.com/1207/egypt-tweets Tweetdeck ² http://www.tweetdeck.com
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

What are tags and Twitter hashtags?
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Tags are key words or phrases (no spaces) added to a piece of content - blog post, video, photo, Tweet ² to help categorize and add additional information Twitter tags have with a # before the word eg. #egypt, which has become known as the hashtag They enable Tweets to be easily searched and gathered together They are an easy way for any individual no matter how many followers they have to add to a conversation or news item

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© Kathryn Corrick 2011

One use: twitter hashtags can be used automatically to aggregate content and generate a ¶newspaper· via services like Paper.li and Flipboard

http://paper.li/AhmedYahia/1292846947

http://paper.li/tag/lybia
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Example of the flow of information & role of diaspora
‡ This is a screenshot of one of the SMS sent by Vodafone on request of the Egyptian government. The SMS were photographed and sent to Sherief Farouk by Riham Nabil (Riham Farouk) who was on the ground. Sherief Farouk uploaded the photos onto Flickr and added a translation. The photos were then linked to on blogs, Twitter and elsewhere. This set of photos has received nearly 3 million views

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Translation: µThe Armed Forces asks Egypt's honest ‡ and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor ‡ and our precious Egypt.¶

http://www.flickr.com/photos/59098813@N06/5411904816/in/set72157625964108236/
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Those reporting became a target
µForeign journalists became the target on Wednesday. As ProMubarak mobs, believed to be thugs and undercover police, tried to storm the pro-democracy protest in Tahrir Square, anyone with a camera became a target.¶
- Sarah Sirgany, personal blog, 3 February 2011
Source: http://sirgoslabyrinth.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/revolution-diaries-feb-3-run-journalists-run/ © Kathryn Corrick 2011

All this information needed reporting, curating and disseminating

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Arabica curated and aggregated news from across the web and social media

http://www.newarabica.com/egypt/?cat=Egypt
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Wikipedians distill information which is often updated in real-time

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wael_Ghonim http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Live blogging

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

The Al Jazeera English Live Blog

The live blog page included a live TV feed at the top of the page
Live Blog for 28 January - http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2011/01/28/live-blog281-egypt-protests
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

You could also hear short audio messages from Al Jazeera reporters

http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2011/01/30/live-messages-egypt
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Canada·s CBC used Scribble Live for their live Egypt blog
This meant they could draw in and curate other media ² Twitter, photos, video ² easily and have others contribute.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2011/02/live-blog-uprising-in-egypt.html
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

As did Reuters

http://live.reuters.com/Event/Unrest_in_Egypt?Page=0
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

The BBC·s live coverage page
The BBC uses a mix of live TV footage, short news posts and Twitter. They also include key points and ways to contact them.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Al Jazzera used a timeline to summarise events to-date

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/201112515334871490.html
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

The Guardian said«

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/feb/07/al-jazeera-television-egypt-protests?CMP=twt_gu © Kathryn Corrick 2011

And when the internet was switched off«?

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

The telephone became once again vital. Example: Google introduced Speak to Tweet

Speak to Tweet enables users to phone a telephone number and record a message which is then Tweeted with a link to listen to the recording.
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/some-weekend-work-that-will-hopefully.html http://twitter.com/#!/speak2tweet
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Lessons?

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Understand the network and how it operates

¶The map is arranged to place individuals near the individuals they influence, and factions near the factions they influence. The color is based on the language they tweet in -- a choice that itself can be meaningful, and clearly separates different strata of society.· ² Kovas Boguta
Source: http://www.kovasboguta.com/1/post/2011/02/first-post.html
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Think ahead if you can

Source: http://twitter.com/EthanZ/statuses/39678452848271361 https://twitter.com/#!/globalvoices/gabon-unrest-2011
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Understand the complex web of factors of a story. What enabled the Egyptian uprising? Social media? ´While university-educated new middle classes have played a key role in organizing the protests and mobilizing youths, they are typically tightly connected with labor syndicates and blue collar workers, whether urban or rural. Many of the key demands of the movement have to do with pay equity and living conditions for the working poor and the unemployed.µ
http://detnews.com/article/20110210/OPINION01/102100341/Labor-movementdrives-Egypt--Tunisia-protests
© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Bear in mind the role of the diaspora in spreading information

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

And the importance of understanding the difference between activism and journalism
‡ Bearing witness ‡ The importance of analysis, curation and understanding the context of what is going on ‡ Reporting more than one aspect or perspective

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Liveblogging: Ensure there are ways for people to get up-tospeed with the story-so-far
‡ Break up content into logical sections ² day/week/geography/theme ‡ Create a timeline page that summarises events to date ‡ Make it easy to navigate

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Plus« new media, familiar problems
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡
Verification Reliability Curation and editing Limits of technology and connectivity Censorship Interpretation and analysis Spotting the story

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Finally
Think about what you would do if the internet goes down. Have a back-up plan

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

More links
http://www.delicious.com/tremendoustrifles/Egypt

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

Questions?
www.kathryncorrick.co.uk @kcorrick Admin@kathryncorrick.co.uk

© Kathryn Corrick 2011

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