Al-Jazeera and the rise of citizen journalism

Since the beginning of the Arab uprising, more than 70,000 videos have been uploaded to Al-Jazeera’s portal Sharek.

At the peak of the Libyan uprising, 1,000 videos were uploaded to Sharek, Al-Jazeera’s video-sharing platforms, says Moeed Ahmed, head of new media at the broadcaster. Ahmed describes Sharek, which was launched in 2008, as one of the cornerstones of Al-Jazeera with more than 70,000 videos uploaded since the start of the Arab Spring. While journalists were initially hesitant about using content submitted by citizens, Ahmed says that by 2011, “every news hour was leading with some video that was received through Sharek or YouTube”. The state-funded news organisation has since launched Al-Jazeera Unplugged, a series of videos that teaches people how to use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ effectively.

(Photo by Abeyno under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence.)

This interview by FSD team member Brian Pellot is the first in a series from World Press Day in Tunisia. Other interviews are with Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege; Nqobile Sibisi, assistant coordinator on the Future Journalists Programme at Highway Africa.; Amy O’Donnell, radio project manager at Frontline SMS; and Kevin Bankston, director of free expression, privacy and intellectual property at The Centre for Democracy and Technology.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford.

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