Archive for April, 2011

Social Media, Politics and Egypt’s Revolution …

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The January 2011 Egyptian Revolution, hailed by the media as a social media revolution; the first major incident where social media directly altered the political life of a nation highlights the effects of these online platforms on traditional government structures.

The blogosphere has long been recognised as the world’s most expansive protest ground but, prior to the Egyptian revolution social media’s capacity to translate online communities into reality has been limited to viral YouTube videos featuring flashdance groups in various locations around the globe.

Egypt’s recent revolution has revealed the true capacity of social media when utilised properly and the the potential ramifications of the above. Although, much of the media hype has focused on the most recent social media activities of protesters via Facebook page ‘We are all Khaled Said’, their avid use of social technology began several years ago in 2008 with blogging.  A convenient platform for communication. Blogs allowed their author to remain anonymous and therefore subject to, at least temporary, evasion from the government. The global reach of the media platform allowed the Egyptian public to garner interest and support for thier cause around the world. The potential power social media provides all individuals is noted by Charles Hirschking (2011) in his article ‘From the blogosphere to the street: The role of social media in the Egyptian Uprising’.

One of the first and most prominant Egyptian protest blogs, al-wa’i al-masri (Egyptian Awareness), authored by Wael Abbab posted numerous videos of the abuse occuring behind the scenes in Egypt. Sent to him via mobile phone or from other bloggers one of the graphic videos revealed an Egyptian man in a Cairo police station, sexually and physically abused by the officers (Hirschkind, 2011).

This uncontrolled increase in transparancy, propelled by social media outlets has altered the relationship between the government and the public. In the extreme case of Egypt, social media provided an opportunity for  oppressed citizens to reveal the abuse suffered under a harsh regime and ultimately rise up and over throw their suppressors.

But, the influence of social media in traditional methods of governing, encouraging and often forcing upon them a level of transparency is evident across the globe. The desire of the public to know the inner workings of those who rule has culminated in the United States with suggestions of making available all the actions, affiliations and sponsors of Senators in the United States Government. Such transparency or ‘Naked Transparency’ has not been viewed positively by all. Laurence Lessig (2010) highlights the issues which may arise in knowing too much: A state of confusion, loss of faith in the government, not to mention miss-information.

‘We are not thinking clear enough about where and when transparency works and where and when it may lead to confusion or to worse,’ Lessig (2010) comments in his work ‘Against transparency: The perils of open government’.

Whether for good or bad it is clear that social media has permanently altered the hierarchy between the citizens and governments of the world. Forcing a level of transparency and accountability on those in traditional positions of power. Social media has provided its users with their own newfound authority.



Brewer, J 2011, Introducing the Progressive Strategy Handbook, Truthout, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Ellis, B 2010, Sleepless in Canberra The ABC, Drum Unleashed , accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Hirschkind, C 2011, From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising,  Jadaliyya, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Lessig, L 2010, Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government, accessed April 18th 2011, <,0>

Mason, P 2011, Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere, Idle Scrawls BBC, accessed April 18th 2011,  <>

Styles, C 2009, A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Usher, N 2011, How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”, The Nieman Lab, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

UsNow, online video, accessed April 18th 2011, <>



Categories: Uncategorized

The Hidden potential for traditional media online

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The internet … a wondrous world filled with endless bites of knowledge … the black-hole gulping down the news industry.

The running commentary for the past few years has consisted of the desperate cries of newspapers as advertising revenue decreases many newsrooms have shrunk of disappeared completely. But, statistics reveal that this is not because people are not reading the news, rather they have begun to interact with the news. No longer exploring current affairs through print many now do so through online news sources, social media and phone applications.

The internet age is changing our way of thinking and interacting with the media. Eliminating boarders. Audiences are no longer engaging with the neatly framed worlds of print, broadcast and radio. The lines have become blurred and media has converged. Online news now often utilises one or more of these mediums. It streams across platforms: Facebook, Delicious, Tumblr. Allowing audiences to interact, commenting on the issues. And now through blogging and various organisations such as the Huffington Post, produce the news. The popularity of social media as a news source has led to Facebook Chief Technical Officer, Bret Taylor, suggesting Facebook will revolutionise the news as it has done with online gaming. Increasing the social aspect of our news consumption (Stop the presses: Facebook CTO says news next in social revolution 2011).

As in all times of great change there is fear. News organisations struggle to raise the advertising revenue online, needed to produce the content they provide. Attempting to engage with the audience in a similar manner to their print counterpart as seen in the New York Time’s first unsuccessful attempt at a paywall.

Despite the fears of media outlets this is also a time of opportunity for traditional media. Joshua Benton (2011) of the Nieman Journalism Lab notes the changing media ecosystem has the potential to offer an overhaul in how we experience ‘live events’, through the integration of social media and traditional platforms. This allows news outlets to traverse the grounds of traditional news publication whilst simultaneously utilising online platforms, in particular social media.

He also notes the importance of changing the visual face of traditional online news, taking a page out of the world of phone apps whose layout and design seem to attract the attention of readers for longer (Benton 2011).

Reputable media sources may also have the potential to become more akin to an aggregator providing content as well as advertising and linking to popular and credible news stories on other sites (Benton 2011).

The internet not only provides opportunities for established media outlets. As Jeremy Adam Smith (2011) explores in his article ‘How we are financing meaningful journalism’, many freelance journalists view this time optimistically. Opening up many more ways for them to find exposure to a public, creating and publishing content. Many major freelance projects, Smith (2011) notes, are funded through grants and donations.

‘The results also add to the growing pile of evidence that journalism is becoming a form of social entrepreneurship – an endeavour that combines commercial and nonprofit methods to achieve social change’ (Smith 2011).

Small, localised, online news organisations are also able to garner a public following and through donations provide credible journalism for those who deem it an essential facet of modern society. New Matilda provides an Australian example of a publicly funded credible news source.

There are valid concerns regarding the shift of news output from traditional news platforms to online. Namely the ability  to fund the production of well researched and accurate stories. Despite, these concerns the online world provides endless opportunities for news outlets to expand their news production covering numerous angles and traversing several different media platforms; i.e. using video and print in one article. The internet also allows for the nurturing of smaller specialised news sources and provides the public with numerous portholes to access their information.


Benton, J 2011, Eight trends for Journalism in 2011: A Nieman Lab talk in Toronto, Nieman Journalism Lab, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Rosenstiel, T 2011, ‘5 myths about the future of journalism’, The Washington Post, 7 April, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Sabbagh, D 2011, ‘Ariana Huffington and Tim Armstrong: King and Queen of content’, The Guardian (UK), 24 March, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Smith, J. A. 2011, How we’re financing meaningful journalism, Knight Garage: Re-engineering journalism @ Stanford, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Stop the presses: Facebook CTO says news next in social revolution 2011, BBC News, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Timmer, J 2011, Accurate and credible new tweets? Automated system finds them, arstechnica, accessed April 10th 2011, 

Categories: Uncategorized