The Stream : social networks are coming to your TV screen on Al-Jazeera

Al-Jazeera English, newsroom in Doha, Qatar.

Al-Jazeera English, newsroom in Doha, Qatar. Wikimedia/CMDavid

By Caroline Bodin

A new talk show is coming on Al-Jazeera English, Wired reports. One that involves social networking and very little on set pre-production : an unusual and, I would even say, risky choice. But Al-Jazeera, the Qatari based network, has just shown the world how good a channel can be when taking risks.

The Stream will start in May on a half hour slot, with no script, no guests on site and no satellite hookup. The producers will incorporate the social networks’ feeds in the script as it goes, leaving much space for unexpected live broadcast moments. Online video will be the main tool used to bring guest on air, via Skype. According to Wired, even the co-host, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, admits not really knowing what they are about to do.

A show based on the participation of a web community might worry more then one TV producer in this world but ”Al-Jazeera has seen a 2,500 percent increase in web traffic in recent weeks, 60 percent of which is coming from the United States.” says Wired, the technology website.

Al Jazeera logo

Al Jazeera logo. credits: Wikimedia

With an increase in US consumers and the slow but certain democratization of Arab countries, The Stream certainly is the show to be looking forward to. No one knows what’s to be expected and just like the recent revolutions we witnessed on the Qatar based network, what’s coming next is an unpredictable piece of journalism. We might even witness a re-birth of journalism and the media, who knows ?

Critics all over the world all agree to say that International TV channel Al-Jazeera has surpassed itself in the coverage of the recent Arab uprisings. One factor played a major role : social networks. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube became a journalist’s best friends in the last few weeks, enabling them to cover more, faster, sometimes even filling the gap foreign correspondents could not. Although Al-Jazeera had planned the show before the recent events in the arab world, The Stream just shows how important these new media are in the technological era while paying a well deserved tribute to all the citizen journalists out there.

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