Covering Egypt – with fax, dial-up and speak-to-tweet (2011)

A wrap of stories/posts looking at how recent unrest in Egypt has been covered by media and how technology old and new has been adapted to keep Egyptians connected with the rest of the world.

Google enables speak-to-tweet service for Egypt

Google Blog | Jan 31

Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service—the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection. We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to

How Journalists Are Using Social Media to Report on the Egyptian Demonstrations

Mashable | Vadim Lavrusik | Jan 31

Pundits have been weighing in on the role of social media in sparking the uprising, and whether it is a necessary ingredient in accelerating modern revolutions or simply an over-hyped notion. In some respects, the attempt to block communication has done little to stifle reports coming out of the country. Though much of the citizenry isn’t able to broadcast themselves, their stories are being told and amplified by reporters. What’s interesting is that the information flowing out is a hybrid of the “old school” reliance on reports from journalists on location and “new school” amplification through the social web.

Old technology finds role in Egyptian protest

BBC | Jan 31

Fax machines, ham radio and dial-up modems are helping to avoid the net block imposed on Egypt. On 27 January, Egypt fell off the internet as virtually all international connections were cut following an order from the government. But older technologies proved their worth as net activists and protesters used them to get round the block. Protesters are also circulating information about how to avoid communication controls inside Egypt.

China blocks ‘Egypt’ searches on micro-blogging sites

BBC World Service | Jan 31

The continuing anti-government protests in Egypt appear to have sparked some nervousness in China. The authorities have blocked searches for the Chinese word for Egypt on micro-blogging sites, similar to Twitter. (Radio interview)

MoJo’s Egypt explainer: future-of-context ideas in action

Nieman Journalism Lab | Megan Garber | Jan 28

This week’s unrest in Egypt brings new relevance to an old question: How do you cover an event about which most of your readers have little or no background knowledge? Mother Jones has found one good way to do that. Its national politics reporter, Nick Baumann, has produced a kind of on-the-fly topic page about this week’s uprising, featuring a running description of events fleshed out with background explanation, historical context, multimedia features, and analysis.


Egypt shuts down al-Jazeera operations

Guardian | Ian Black | Jan 30

Egypt shut down the operations of the Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera, blaming it for encouraging the country’s uprising – and demonstrating that the repressive powers of central government are still functioning. The state-run Mena news agency reported that the information ministry had ordered “suspension of operations of al-Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff, as of today”.

Al-Jazeera journalists arrested in Egypt

Guardian | Josh Halliday | Jan 31

Egyptian authorities today arrested six al-Jazeera journalists as the government continues its media crackdown after a week of political protest in the country. The journalists were arrested and had their cameras and other broadcasting equipment seized by the military in Cairo earlier today, according to the satellite TV channel’s United Arab Emirates correspondent in Egypt, Dan Nolan. Al-Jazeera later reported that Nolan and five other reporters were being detained by police. The six reporters were released around one hour after they were arrested, al-Jazeera later confirmed. However, their equipment remains in the possession of the police.

BBC protests at police assault on its Cairo correspondent

Guardian | Roy Greenslade | Jan 28

The BBC is to make an official protest to the Egyptian authorities after one of its journalists was assaulted by police in Cairo today. Assad Sawey, the BBC’s Cairo correspondent, was deliberately assaulted by police while reporting on a baton charge during the street protests. When surrounded by men who appeared to be plain clothes security men, he identified himself as a BBC journalist. He was repeatedly hit, taking blows to the head. He reported that they beat him with steel bars, “the ones used here for slaughtering animals.” His camera was confiscated and he was arrested. After being released without charge, he received medical attention for a head wound, and then continued reporting.

CNN | Jan 31

[blackbirdpie url=”!/wolfblitzercnn/status/32210531087552512″]

Vodafone shuts Egypt call centre

NZ Herald | Hamish Fletcher | Feb 1

Vodafone New Zealand has taken on more than 100 extra workers after unrest in Egypt temporarily closed down its Cairo call centre. About 180 staff are employed in the centre, which provides customer service for Vodafone’s prepaid and on-account consumer customers. Vodafone New Zealand has three call centres in Auckland and one based in Cairo. Two Vodafone New Zealand staff and their families, who were based in Cairo, were evacuated over the weekend. Local Egyptian workers are being advised to stay at home.

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