Creative Revolutions! al Valle domenica 27 Novembre

CREATIVE REVOLUTIONS! sulle primavere arabe –

Domenica 27 h.21

Creative Revolutions!
user-generated videos da Tunisia, Egitto, Giordania, Siria, Libia, Yemen

Il Valle Occupato dopo aver ospitato un workshop sul funzionamento dei principali social network per produrre e scambiare informazioni, costruire reti di persone e organizzare azioni sul territorio, ospita una serata dedicata alle rivolte arabe per mostrare come si sono diffuse le informazioni e quanto la creatività abbia contribuito al coinvolgimento delle masse divendo un’arma che opera sull’immaginario, l’arte e la cultura.

Creative Revolutions e` una finestra sulla creativita` web emersa dalle primavere arabe. Cartoni animati, video musicali, telegiornali satirici, soap opera, tutto in pillole create da giovani egiziani, tunisini, giordani, siriani, e diffuse viralmente attraverso i social network. Creative Revolutions e` uno sguardo su una nuova generazione araba, quella che in questo 2011 e` scesa in piazza e ha preso in mano il suo futuro. Si e` ripresa anche la sua creatività, armata di telecamerine, cellulare, e computer, cominciando a raccontare la “sua” storia. Creative Revolutions e ` un breve spaccato di questa storia e di questa creatività che si rifanno giorno per giorno, nelle piazze arabe e in quelle del web.

MODERANO
Donatella Della Ratta (www.mediaoriente.com) e Hossein Taheri

INTERVENGONO
Mohamed Tailamoun (sociologo di origine libica)
Armada Bizerta (Rap Tunisino)
Altri Arabi (Editrice il Sirente)
Lilia Zaouali e Simone Santi, fra gli autori di “Non ho più paura. Tunisi. Diario di una rivoluzione” (Edizioni Gremese)

Maria Strova- Martinica Ferrara, danzatrice

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“The Al Jazeera Effect: how the new global media are reshaping world politics”

The Al Jazeera Centre for Studies will launch the Arabic Edition of: “The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media are Reshaping World Politics” next Saturday in Doha, Qatar. The event is part of the upcoming Al Jazeera Forum, which has got an extensive section dedicated to social media.

The book is authored by Professor Philip Seib and translated into Arabic by Ezzeddine Abdelmoula, who works for the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

A brief synopsis about the book: The battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East is being fought not on the streets of Cairo, Tunis, Tripoli, Manama or Sana’a, but on the newscasts and talk shows of Al Jazeera. The future of China and other global powers is being shaped not by governments or bureaucracies of the ruling parties, but by bloggers working quietly in cyber cafes. In these and many other instances, traditional ways of reshaping global politics have been superseded by the influence of new media—satellite television, the Internet, and other high-tech tools. Al Jazeera is a paradigm of new media’s influence, and the Al Jazeera effect phenomenon is reshaping the world. The recently published Arabic edition of this topical book that cuts right through the new media debate comes at a time while Al Jazeera’s effect is manifest more than ever before.

About the author: Philip Seib is professor of journalism and public diplomacy at the University of South California. He is the author and editor of many books, including: Headline Diplomacy: How News Coverage Affects Foreign Policy; The Global Journalist: News and Conscience in a World of Conflict; Beyond the Frontlines: How the News Media Cover a World Shaped by War; Media and Conflict in the 21st Century; Broadcasts from the Blitz: How Edward R. Murrow Helped Lead America into War; and New Media and the News Middle East. Professor Seib is co-editor of the journal, Media, War, and Conflict.

The secret of Al Jazeera`s success: dealing with Arabs as people, not as numbers

picture by Evanchill

Yesterday Wadah Khanfar, general manager of Al Jazeera network, wrote an interesting piece: “At Al Jazeera, we saw the Arab revolutions coming. Why didn`t the West?”.

“Indeed, it should surprise no one that so many Western analysts, researchers, journalists and government experts failed to recognize the obvious signs of Arab youth movements that would soon erupt into revolutions capable of bringing down some of the most pro-Western regimes in the Middle East. That failure has exposed a profound lack of understanding in the West of Arab reality. Quantcast U.S. and European allies, supporters and business partners of the Arab regimes persistently preferred to deal with leaders who were entirely unrepresentative of the new generation. They were detached from the emerging reality and had no way to engage with the social forces that now matter. It is the growing periphery of the Arab world – the masses at its margins, not its feeble and decaying center – that is shaping the future of the region” Khanfar says.

I cannot but agree with him. Few days ago, in my post “Tripoli, una gita di mille anni fa” (in Italian), I was discussing the same issue, the blindness of the West, particularly Europe and my own country, Italy (which enjoyed in the past a great deal of soft power in the Region and a cultural proximity with Arabs that maybe only Spain and Greece have among EU countries). We had a great opportunity which was the Euro-Mediterreanean framework and we wasted it, doing partnerships with the wrong people, “supporters of the Arab regimes” as Wadah cleverly points out. We saw the rising influence of social networks and some of us, mostly academic researchers with no real influence on institutional policies, spent years and years trying to convince EU institutions that those were the right folks to discuss with, the young blood of the new Arab generation. But sine we are ourselves “too young” (at least for EU parameters) nobody paid too much attention to our words, taking us as “kids” playing with the latest technology tool.

The same happened much longer before with TV stations. I remember when I first visited Al Jazeera, back in 2000, and then started to write articles and a book about the channel. It took years and years of work and public talks to have the EU elites starting to take this station “seriously” and not being just scared by it.

Today, 10 years  after 9/11, the situation has completely changed. Al Jazeera has been in touch with “the street” as Wadah points out, and was able to catch up with the changing going on in the Region. Al Jazeera is a young station. Khanfar himself is young and was able to build up a team of youngsters in the New Media Department that is super-professional. People like Mohamed Nanahbay and Mooed Ahmad, with their teams at Al Jazeera Arabic and English, have been working since 2006 to build what Al Jazeera achieves today.

We can criticize the channel`s editorial policy, disagree with some of its programmes, dislike its “incendiary” style, but we cannot deny the professional way the channel has been building relations with the people during the years. That`s it: Al Jazeera has not dealt with Arabs as audiences, but as its “people”. It has empowered them to express their opinions, send their messages, join online forum and chats, post videos, build the new brand identity of the channel all together.

People, mostly in the West, are surprised of the channel popular success during the last Egyptian uprising and now with Libya. There`s nothing to be surprised about pictures like the one Evanchill has published. People feel proximity with Al Jazeera, and new media has played a big role in this. And the way Al Jazeera has been using new media since 2006 is incredibly clever and professional. I wouldt be surprised at all: I would call this “investment”.

Al Jazeera has invested in new media since 2006 and this success is just the result of a professional work done during years and years. As much as 9/11 coverage in Afghanistan was the result of an investment done since the beginning of the channel, in 1996, by building a network of contacts and opening offices in crisis zones.

9/11 coverage didnt come out of the blue. It was just the result of an investment.

The idea of “investing” in something was once very close to Western mentality. It seems that now, mostly in the EU, this is gone. And none of the Arabic language stations that we have in Europe has ever thought of building a relation with its Arab audiences and dealing with them as people, not as numbers.

Al Jazeera did, and that`s the secret of its successful coverage of the Arab uprisings. It did it so well that this was helpful to reach out to Western audiences too.

There was -and there still is- a big campaign in the US, appeared also on Twitter and called #DemandAlJazeera. The channel New media team is organizing meet-ups all over America, and many articles are  being published everywhere in the US to demand the availability of the channel via cable.

And this might be Al Jazeera`s latest success: few days ago it was publicly announced that the channel is in talks with Comcast, the largest US cable distributor.