Al Jazeera has just started updating the Creative Commons Al Jazeera repository which the channel created in early 2009 during the Gaza crisis. The Al Jazeera New Media team is working to update the repository with daily packages of footage coming from Egypt and Tunisia uprisings.
Having chosen the most “lenient” Creative Commons license, CC BY, Al Jazeera is allowing anybody to take, copy, share, translate, remix, and even re-broadcast the footage for free under the only condition of attributing the original source.
This is a key move towards the circulation of information particularly during crisis, like the one currently happening in Egypt. Wired has commented the move here.
Today the Egyptian Ministry of Information prevented both Al Jazeera Arabic and English from operating within the country but the live coverage of the Egypt uprising continued thanks to mobile phones live coverage.
Since the beginning of the demonstrations, Al Jazeera Arabic and English have been covering Egypt extensively both through traditional broadcast and with an impressive online coverage on all the major social networks.
I have been watching Egypt`s “day of anger” today on many TV channels, English and Arabic: BBC Arabic, BBC World, Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera Arabic and English, CNN. I must admit that this time Al Jazeera English did really a great job, particularly their correspondent from Cairo Ayman Mohyeldin. Al Jazeera English live feed on the Internet has been providing constant live coverage today, even during the worst moments of Friday the 28th of January, when the police was attacking Al Jazeera`s Cairo office and trying to stop the live broadcast. Al Jazeera Arabic and English also started tonight to release some of their Egyptian footage under a Creative Commons license, something which has been very warmly welcomed by Internet users that are in constant need of footage in these crisis situations.
On the contrary, Al Arabyia was quite “low profile” today and they even reported the totally random news that Internet had been shut down by Syrian authorities in Syria. The news is totally false, as I have been live tweeting from Syria during all Friday, as many other Syrian tweeps. Internet was very fast today in Syria, as far as I can tell. It has never been so fast in the country since I am here, as much as it has never been raining like tonight and Damascus has never looked so quiet and gloomy as it was tonight.
picture by Paul Keller
Thanks to the interest and the kind invitation of Yves Gonzalez-Quijano on the 26th of January the French Institute of Damascus IFPO is hosting the seminar “Discussing the analysis of media production in Syria: TV drama and news websites“.
I am going to present my PHD research on Syrian musalsalat with a particular focus on the methodological aspect of doing media studies in Syria. My Italian colleague Enrico de Angelis is studying Syrian news websites with respect to their links to a broader Internet culture and the challenges they present to traditional news-making in Syria. Our talks start at 6pm and are going to be in English (no translation).
On the same day, but starting at 2.30 till 5 pm, IFPO will host an interesting round table with Syrian journalists from news websites (in Arabic only).
Speakers are: Nabil Saleh (Al Jamal), Mohamed Abdel Rahim (Sham News), Firas Adra (DPress) and Mazen Bilal (Suryia al Ghad). The round table is organized by Enrico De Angelis and moderated by Yves Gonzalez-Quijano.
While Ben Ali`s regime is over, another family business seems to be collapsing, the media one. And it is not that of state-owned channel TV Tunis7 -which was always and very clearly the mouthpiece of the regime- but that which is the real money-maker, i.e Cactus Prod, the giant media production company founded in 2002 by Belhassen Trabelsi, the former first lady`s brother.
Blog portal Nawaat has dealt with the issue of the power that Cactus Prod used to have over the state-owned TV which used to commission all its prime time cash&audience-making shows to the Trabelsi`s company, turning it into the real monopolist of Tunisian media.
Now, as a consequence of the fall of Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi`s regime, it seems that the company`s bank accounts have been frozen. Sami Fehri, a very famous TV presenter who co-owns the company at 50% with Trabelsi, is reported to have publicly declared that he was forced by Belhassen to enter in a business partnership with him.
The news has not been verified yet but, in any case, it is helpful to show us another very important side of the former “neo-liberal” regime, i.e. that every new business brought up to the country by the so called globalisation and neo-liberal era was at the benefit of a closed elite circle, pretty much that of the ruling family relatives and friends. Another evidence that the liberalization benefits were in the hands of few selected people while a mirage for the majority of the Tunisians, as well as for many other Arabs who in other countries of the Region do share the same situation.
As The National`s columnist Sultan AlQassemi put it tonight on Twitter, “I think Al Jazeera is going to lose at least one bureau in the Arab world by the end of this episode”. He was referring to the incendiary episode of “Al ittijah al moakis” (Opposite direction) hosted live tonight as every Tuesday by Faisal Al Qasem, one of Al Jazeera`s most well known faces.
Tonight of course the episode was dealing with the Tunisian uprising who has led to the fall of Ben Ali`s regime. ” In every single Arab Republic you have a Sakher El Materi & Imad Trabelsi & Leila Ben Ali”, said Faisal on air.
And then: “The Western world works to raise the standards of the individual, Arab governments work to raise the standards of ONE individual: the leader”.
That`s what the Arab regimes are fearing the most right now. That this “inconvenient truth” will be revealed soon to their populations -who already know it, of course- and that the people will feel themselves encouraged and pushed to do something similar to what Tunisians did.
Faisal`s guests focused on a quite incendiary talk on Syria. Twitter was running faster than ever with hypothesis on “who`s next” and Egypt got the pole position in this self made opinion poll.
I don`t know what`s going to happen and this is not the first time in more than ten years that I watch Faisal`s incendiary show provoking with “free talk”. But that `s for sure the first time ever I watch TV7 Tunis , the national Tunisian broadcaster, hosting a talk show with many guests, different opinions represented, talking about different paths the new country could eventually undertake, using words like “citizens” “democracy” or “constitution”.
That`s probably the first time ever I see the reality of what`s going on being broadcast on an Arab government-owned TV channel. Before, you wouldn`t be surprised if watching a children cartoon while something like a revolution was happening.