Category Archives: media

The 2009 Iranian Twitter Revolution

Many times in the past, I’ve heard derisive comments once the words “Twitter” or “tweet” enter casual conversation.

‘It’s a phase,’ someone amongst the group would say with an accompanying snort. ‘It holds no credible value.’

A simpler comment is often ‘it’s just plain stupid.’ Followed by several nods of agreement.

But now citizens of Iran are using the apparently unserious and “stupid” online social networking site Twitter as means to communicate their green revolution to both themselves and the outside world. No – it’s not green in the environmental sense, but instead political – touting green in online avatars, T-shirts and banners in support of their Iranian presidential candidate, Hussein Mousavi.

It’s a revolution, though not quite to the scale of 30 years ago when the Islamic Revolution shook Iran. But a revolution, nonetheless. And social networking site Twitter is caught in its centre.

Twitter Makes Way for the Latest Twitter Movement

Even the developers and insofar as the U.S. State Department seem to acknowledge this new rush to the Twitter engine. According to the BBC, Twitter delayed rountine maintenance in order to keep the Iranian flow of protest information uninterrupted.

In the same article, U.S. State Department reportly contacted Twitter, stating ‘we highlighted to them that this was an important form of communication.’ Twitter co-founder Biz Stone stressed that the U.S. State Department did not ultimately make the decision.

Getting the Word Out

Television news networks such as the BBC have received video from green Iranian protesters, who are otherwise cut off from the rest of the world due to a government clampdown of media. For instance, this footage was sent by mobile to BBC Persian TV. It depicts pro-Ahmadinejad militia firing on Mousavi supporters peacefully protesting in the streets.

Social media is a fascinating thing. Its future steps are hard to predict. Now Twitter is part of a revolution that it likely never dreamed to play an integral part.

Further reading…

Click here to read a Guardian timeline of Iranian unrest since the election (updated automatically on every minute).

Click here to read an LA Times article on the twits and tweets of the Iran presidential election protests.

Click here to view more videos and photos sent from Iranian protesters to the BBC.

Click here to view IranElection, its tweets and its followers on Twitter.


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Murdoch: Time to Kindle™ Newspapers

Rupert Murdoch, longtime global media leader.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp.

Media giant Rupert Murdoch wishes to invest in the Amazon Kindle – or rather, a Kindle competitor.

A few days ago, The Boston Globe Online reported:

News Corp is investing in a reading device similar to‘s Kindle and Sony Corp’s Reader but with a larger screen for reading newspapers, Murdoch said.”

(If a mention of the Globe sounds familiar, look into the latest financially troubled newspaper.)

At this point in time, there is no detailed business plan, or even confirmation that this new e-reader will use the same E-Ink technology as Kindle. There was mention, however, that this Kindle competitor would boast color, unlike its current monochrome counterparts.

And with enhanced features such as an enlarged screen, this fabled e-reader certainly sounds like a tantalizing alternative to struggling print newspapers and magazines.

For those curious about who Rupert Murdoch is, Murdoch is the chairman and CEO of News Corp,  a media giant that owns media outlets such as FOX News, MySpace and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

According to the Globe article, the newspaper e-reader model might be seen next year.

As history goes, economic downturns tend to reinvent the wheel – which in this case, is print. Since life is always healthily peppered with irony, future print journalism may no longer be printed in the sense that it is now. Should e-readers steer the market, the newspaper delivery boy will be out of business, but journalists may see their work published in a money-making format again.

Although it still stands to wonder exactly how this Kindle-esque business plan will help print journalism, since information has a habit of appearing free online. After all, it didn’t cost a dime to search for this headline and link to the Globe, of all troubled places.

Perhaps the Internet may experience some sort of media moderation in the future, where search engines such as Google and Yahoo! can’t as easily peruse headlines and pluck the ripest fruit for search results.

Murdoch himself hit this topic over the head, as reported by the above Globe article:

“The question is, should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyright… not steal, but take,” said Murdoch. “Not just them, but Yahoo.”

It’s a good question, and this blog is guilty as charged.

Photo credits go to World Economic Forum of Flickr.

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Where Newspapers Still Thrive – the Underground

Train Reads

Newspapers: a reliable commuter companion.

When thinking of the last and only place where newspapers or magazines thrive, the first image to pop into mind was the subway.

Trains, metros, tubes, lines. There are plenty of nicknames for underground trains in the United States, but the lot of them have this in common: they disappear underground for long lengths of time.

During the morning commute, the free newspaper bins are always stocked to full and then ravaged by every hurried passerby. The free morning newspapers are the perfect commuting companion: they’re free, easily accessible and short. Perfect for the train commute into work.

But another convenience is the fact that these free newspapers don’t suffer while underground – you see, there’s no Internet connection to maintain. While even some of the most advanced technologies may lose Internet connection in the deepest New York subways, an old-fashioned newspaper keeps its words on every page without a flicker or blink.

Unless, of course, someone spills their morning coffee and soaks their copy from back to front – then the reading experience is ruined, along with your expensive slacks.

Regardless, even 3G marvels such as the iPhone and Amazon Kindle haven’t penetrated every subway tunnel and crevice. These underground oasises may be the last newspaper haven before the medium reaches its next stage of evolution.

Photo credits to Erich Ferdinand on Flickr.


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What Media “Magic Bullet?”

Recently, the phrase “magic bullet” pops up when journalists discuss the industry’s next business plan.

The story has been told again and again: print is not the ad-selling, cost-efficient, information-spreading medium it used to be, but online distribution does not fill in the money gap. In short, news consumers have grown used to information being free, but news providers can’t provide this free service and still put bread on the family table.

So perhaps it’s natural that the phrase “magic bullet” has come up. This refers to a quick cure that ends all ills without a catch.

Truth be told, a magical cure-all for anything would be wonderful – but as reality goes, that is rarely the case. Therefore, in a plane of existence where journeys are complex and take many loops and nauseating turns before the finish line, let’s look and see at some of the progress journalism is currently making.

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Amateur Fun: What is Trendy?

Four days ago, I linked a study on major 2009 trends for online journalism. But before diving too far into the study, I wanted to do my own homework.

I could even develop a hypothesis, test it as if I were in a virtual lab and create my own theories based on my pseudo-facts, I thought to myself.

My fun project led me to an even more fun layman tool, Google Trends.

The procedure was very simple:

  1. Find the top social media and news media contenders.
  2. Pluck out the winners and pit them against each other, social media versus news media.

Hypothesis: social media will defeat top news media by a substantial margin.

But the real question in this fun exercise is, which social medium will it be?

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Weather the Economic Storm: Freelance

With graduation months away, I’ve spent long hours researching online on what to do during economic hard times. I turned up something rather special on accident.

Writing as a profession has always been an uphill struggle. There are tricks of the trade such as tone, audience and credibility that must be mastered. But recessions always makes job-searching difficult. To put simply – there are less to find.

What a friend of mine called the “lack of a new business plan” for today’s media is what is hurting journalist institutions the most. The individual journalist can still find material, research and write – but where to publish and how to make money is now the $1 million question. Print isn’t what it used to be and online media isn’t the perfect answer quite yet.

But without meaning to, I received some fantastic advice from journalism veteran Barbara Iverson while posting on the We Media Community journalism message board:

First and foremost, it is critical to keep doing what you love. You are going to have to kludge together freelance work and whatever you can get until the economy looks up a bit. Don’t just sit. If you don’t have a paid reporting gig, assign yourself a story to cover, and cover it for a community paper, for a blog, for Huffington Post, etc. etc. Make sure you can write, take photos, edit and upload them quickly, shoot short videos, record audio and make podcasts. When you can’t get paid, do it to please yourself. Practice makes perfect.”

Practice makes perfect. To read all of Barbara’s reply, go here.

Barbara also related today’s economic hardship with a similar situation in the 70s. In many ways, the journalists that are graduating now are in the same boat that previous generations were stranded in before.

Times may be hard, but some things just don’t change: it’s time to freelance, freelance, freelance.

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Q: Can Print Still Afford to Predict the Future?

A Day in News Consumption

This morning, my very first headline was’s story on the freshly unveiled federal government bank rescue plan.

I was bleary-eyed from the night before and still banking on my morning cereal and coffee to be ready, but I nevertheless was ready to consume news. So I did.

It was 9:22 a.m. on Monday, March 23.

But hours later at lunch, I snagged a copy of Express, which is a daily free newspaper available in bins spaced about every fifteen feet in my university campus.

(Note: and Express are produced by the same newspaper company, The Washington Post.)

My eyes scanned the second story on the front page: “Bank Rescue May Cost $1T, Administration to unveil plan to buy toxic assets Monday.”

It was 1:35 p.m. on Monday, March 23.

Is Print Prediction Still Cost-Efficient?

Being print, Express‘s deadline was the previous night – or perhaps even the crack-of-dawn this morning.

Since the hurting economy is on the brain, it seems the news of the bank rescue proposal was so relevant that even the I’m-outdated-by-the-day-of-publication newspaper boasted a story on its front page. Unfortunately, since no (known) journalist is psychic, the article couldn’t offer as many specifics as its up-to-date online version.

Instead, it was more of a, we know it’s going to happen and it’s gonna happen today news article.

This is no surprise in many ways. Before the 24/7 news cycle, newspapers had to predict the future, so to speak. News had to wait until the next news cycle – though if my memory of journalism history serves me right, there were historical moments when several issues were published a day when crucial news was breaking.

But today, when ad revenue and subscribers are down, there must be a better way to pay for all the tree-cutting, processing, printing and delivery.

Maybe there shouldn’t be print newspapers at all. From the moment they’re published, they’re yesterday’s news. This idea is not new.

Express may be free, but other print newspapers published and delivered to news stands this morning also couldn’t detail the bank rescue plan unveiled this morning. Since we live in a 24/7, instantaneous world, the old tricks of the print trade seem even more antiquated than ever.

The journalism industry needs to shape up and lose a few pounds.

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