The Stream showposter

The Stream showposter

 

Al Jazeera’s social media “The Stream” was launched online 4 years ago

The Internet fuelled Middle-East revolution stories, pushed Al Jazeera English channel to initiate a social media-centred news programme and labelled it The Stream.

It’s a fairly aggressive integration of social media into a live news programme as it wishes to push the limits of so-called “citizen journalism,” and by the same move into the American media territory.

It is fundamentally a social storytelling service behind the editorially curated content that is complimented by community commenting before, during, and after the anchored news sessions.     It’s started on May 2nd 2011.

A Community Web show

“Most TV creates a show and then have a website as an addendum,” said co-host at the time Derrick Ashong.  But “The concept of The Stream is actually a web community that has its own daily television show on AJ,” Ashong adds.  It is worth remembering that the co-host’s own politically charged viral Youtube video catapulted his career into radio.  He imagined The Stream as a 24-hour news show with a 30-minute anchored broadcast component.   After the broadcast ends, there will be a “seamless transition into the dialog that’s already going on.”

The Stream craves for online conversations and thus gives preference to stories of activism and genuine emotion.  “It might be that everyone is tweeting about the Grammy’s,” Ashong says, but it’s probably not a “passionate” discussion.  He’s aiming for stories that lend themselves to “substantive and robust online discourse.” and The Stream will be challenged to find a balance between viewership and “substance.”

Eying America

Emboldened by Hillary Clinton’s flattering congressional testimony that Al Jazeera is “real news,” the Doha and London based channel pushed to break into the American mainstream.  It was no surprise, then, why The Steam is hosted in Washington D.C. with two American anchors.  “Of course we’re looking to get coverage in the US,” says executive producer of programming in DC, James Wright.

Both James Wright and Paul Eedle, Director of programmes wanted it to be noted that The Stream will maintain a strong international news focus and is considering plans for satellite outlets around the world.  More than anything, The Stream is a place to bring in fresh faces.  Young, new media-savvy voices, such as Azita Ardakani of Love Social, were deliberately favoured as contributors instead older experts.

Al Jazeera English’s social media programme The Stream has won the People’s Voice Award for “News and Politics: Series” in the online film and video category at the 2013 Webbys.

The Stream beat four other entries to its award with over 40 per cent of the vote and will be honoured at a ceremony in New York on May 21.

The 2012 Webby People’s Voice Awards saw nearly 1.5 million votes cast by people around the world for their favourite sites, videos, mobile apps and more.

James Wright, Executive Producer of Programming and The Stream, welcomed the award.

“We are proud of everything The Stream has achieved in just one year on air, and are especially happy to win the Webby People’s Voice Award this year, as our online community is one of the most important parts of The Stream, and vital to the show’s success,” Wright said.

In the latest development of the programme, international broadcaster Femi Oke has been revealed as the new host of Al Jazeera English’s hit social media show The Stream.  She took over presenting duties on 6 May 2013.

The Stream is billed as a social media community with its own television show. It’s received critical acclaim since its launch in 2011, winning the Royal Television Society’s award for Innovation, on top of its Webby People’s Choice Award for News and Politics, and a Gracie for Outstanding News Talkshow.  It also received an Emmy nomination last year for New Approach to News and Documentary Programming.

Femi commented on her new role: “I’ve been watching The Stream since it first came on air, because it was so different from anything else on international television. I loved how it responded to the explosion of social media, used Skype and Google Hangouts not just as back-ups like a lot of programmes do, but as a genuine way to connect with viewers.”

Source : Al Jazeera – 2011 through 2015