Al-Jazeera, Social Media, & The Next Generation Of News

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Al-Jazeera's seen how social media is changing the way the wind blows, so the news organization shifted its sails accordingly and now finds itself on the front lines of the next generation of news reporting. Twitter, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, Storify - no social network outlet is too small for Al-Jazeera's "social media-centric" show, The Stream. By relying primarily on social media, much like all people these days appear to lean, The Stream has molded a new style of crowd-sourced journalism capable of catching stories and breaking news before any of the established giants of the mainstream news.

ReadWriteWeb has a great profile on the upstart news program that details how its "social TV" innovation aims to turn the world of news reporting on its ear. Honestly, there's a refreshing, almost underground appeal to the way The Stream operates and part of that is the devil-may-care reliance on the same technology that everybody else uses. As anybody who is familiar with YouTube or Twitter, as you live by those types of services so then can you die by those types of services. Still, even though there's the ever-present threat of a video not loading or someone's Skype connection getting dropped, those sorts of miscues add a touch of charm to the show.

The Stream isn't using social media in the same way that most other news outlets use it, which is to say that The Stream isn't a part of the SEO journalism rat race. Their reporting is more deliberate, less focused on getting the scoop (although being deeply embedded in the world of social media certainly helps with breaking stories: The Stream was the first news program to pick up the source that live-tweeted the SEAL Team 6 Raid of Osama bin Laden's hideout) and more on elevating stories that might not be picked up by other organizations until after it's gathered some steam or gone viral.

One example of how The Stream checks the pulse of the world via social media can be seen with its coverage of yesterday's worldwide organized protests in support of International Women's Day. By using amateur YouTube videos, tweets, and photos uploaded to blogs, The Stream captured the sentiment of protests from Canada to Fiji that largely effaced the flowery, passive impression of the day that you might get from a more mainstream source, say, a Google Doodle.

Like anything that takes root in social media, The Stream's new model of reporting the news certainly stands to go viral. Do you think that crowd-sourced journalism like what The Stream is doing really will change the way news is brought to the public? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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