Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Sentiment on the The Arab Tweet

TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 11:  Reza Saberi, the fathe...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I didn’t attend the ‘New Media’ session of The Arab Media Forum yesterday ( I served my time in the morning, alright?), but then I didn’t need to. Several people I respect were in the audience and were Tweeting highlights throughout the session. One of them was a colleague, one was another PR person I chat to and two were media people I know well.

I can wait for further analysis of the session, I can take my time. I got the high points, the headlines, as they happened – and from several different sources and viewpoints at that.

The people whose commentary on the proceedings was influencing hundreds, in fact going into the thousands, of people were not the ones on the stage talking at the Forum, they were in the audience. Between them, the Tweeters were talking to an audience of more people than the guys onstage with the microphones. Sure, the BBC will broadcast the session in a while – but we’ve already discussed it, deliberated it, shared it ‘on the record’ with the entire Internet and moved on.

And if that doesn’t give you pause for thought, I give up.

Incidentally, the Twitter users were likely the only people in the room full of hundreds of media people that knew, as they sat down to the session, that Roxanne Saberi had been released from the terrible, feared Evin prison in Tehran – that her father was actually on the way to pick her up at that very moment. The breaking news was flying around Twitter as the conference session started. Oh! And also the news that not only had the Pope called for a two-state solution in Palestine but that the Palestinian Authority press centre had been forced to shut down by the Israelis.

And it doesn’t take a newsroom of hundreds to do that. Or a ‘publishing house’. Or a ‘printing press’. Or an ‘editor in chief’.

Oddly, our little band of Twitterers probably represented the few people in the room that actually, genuinely cared about news like Roxanne Saberi and the PA media centre. Freedom is an Internet thing – the ‘old world’ is more reconciled to its lack.

So what did happen in the ‘new media’ session?

The 'traditional' media, debated their credibility and asked The Lone Blogger why he blogged ("Did you always want to be a journalist?"), comforting themselves with the fact that 'citizen journalism' wasn't as reliable as a 'real journalist'.

They, and Seymour Hersh, appear to have missed the point. The world is changing - it's not about bloggers wanting to be journalists. It's much, much bigger than that and it's time that many of our media woke up to the smell of coffee.

BTW, a Gulf News (600g) survey today, commissioned from IPSOS of some 2,000 people, showed that 76.2 of respondents strongly agreed with the statement 'The Internet helps me to keep up to date with the latest news'. GN's headline for the piece?

"Gulf News Stays Ahead of the Pack"

Which is fine, as long as your pack's not heading for the edge of a cliff...
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2 comments:

Seabee said...

It's something we've touched on before Alex, (such as with Andy & The Porsche), the absolutely instant and world-wide reach of the 'net and the changing nature of news suppliers. Something the traditional media and politicians still haven't got their head around. Strange, because I really don't see it as a difficult concept.

the real nick said...

I don't trust anything I see /hear on the internet. Vetting of information, accountability and responsibility is something that online media lacks, incl. wikipedia, twitter and so on, unless they are linked to real, not virtual, media. Twitter is nothing else but self-important gossip that MAY be true or maybe not, so you need to know the 'twit' and trust him or her. This works probably well for the media folk who mostly talk to each other. It doesn't work for me.

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