Thursday, 16 June 2011

Sudan?.. Not interested!

Shortly after all the revolutions kicked off in the MENA region, Al Jazeera, so impressed with the impact of social media on the uprisings, introduced a new, 30 minute program called The Stream.

This is what's written on The Stream's wikipedia page:

"It is branded as a “Web community With a Global TV show”. On television and online The Stream taps into the extraordinary potential of social media to disseminate news. The Stream is an aggregator of online sources and discussion, seeking out unheard voices, new perspectives from people on the ground and untold angles related to the most compelling stories of the day."

The Stream, impressively, has covered many untold stories. Contiguous events that other news outlets seem to ignore.

But it seems there's one story that everyone has agreed to ignore; and that's Sudan. Yes, Sudan. Sudan is no longer a country, nor a state, it's a news story. There is so much wrong in Sudan that even Ethiopia is offering a helping hand.

But it seems Sudan doesn't fit the aforementioned prerequisites. Apparently, there are no "unheard voices" to seek out, no "new perspectives from people on the ground", and also no "untold angles" related to Sudan's compelling stories. Well, OK, Sudan's story is never the most compelling of the day, because there's always someone somewhere in the world launching an online crime fighting website.

Don't get me wrong, I understand The Stream's commitment to the impacts of social media and its effects, but a consistent apathy towards Sudan is not justifiable.

Let's put Darfur and Abyei aside. During The Stream's first couple of weeks it addressed the issue of dying languages. There were detailed accounts made of two dying languages in Mexico, which was interesting. So I thought I should contribute. Being naive, I "told Al Jazeera" (#tellaljazeera) of the Nubian language in Northern Sudan that's losing its grip on survival everyday. Did Al Jazeera mention it? No.

At a later time, I was so enraged at the situation in Abyei, "I told Al Jazeera" to give it a mention. Did they mention it? No.

Mind you, Sudan is in the MENA region. It's right next to Egypt. To be more precise, Egypt and Sudan share a 1,273 km border, that's probably the circumference of Qatar (I'm not going to check, you check).

So, since none of the Misseriya, Dinka-Ngok or residents of South Kurdofan have iPhones or Android enabled mobile devices, the current conflict in Sudan will probably never make it to The Stream. Yes, all other news corporations also regard Sudan as insignificant, but The Stream matters to me, primarily because I'm its audience. I'm not a social media activist but I believe in the powers of social media, which automatically makes watching The Stream a daily chore.

The topics that have been covered on The Stream are numerous. From the Saudi women's fight for rights to India's new anti-corruption online activities. But for some reason, Sudan, which is inundated with problems, is being omitted.

Maybe social media hasn't done anything for Sudan, maybe it can, maybe it can't. But all these factors need to be addressed. I don't expect The Stream to cover only Sudan, but at least acknowledge the fact that there are some very serious problems in the region, and how, despite all efforts by the Sudanese online community, they have been incessantly missed or even ignored. That's a real issue, and it concerns social media and the internet. The failure of an online awareness campaign is just as important as a success. So, what's The Stream waiting for?

I was a dedicated fan of The Stream, I even used to watch the post-show discussions on a lagging stream, but I can't fervently support something that completely ignores my issues.

Hence, I think all Sudanese people should boycott Al Jazeera's The Stream, and I will be the first.


ThoeY said...

I second that. Aljazeera has been biased in favor of the corrupt NCP, and their negligence of Sudan issues is not a coincidence. Sadly enough, Sudan has way more issues than The Stream's attention.

Moez Ali said...

True. But attention seems to be a catalyst for change. We most certainly need that.

Dka said...

I think sometimes Jazeera wants to be able to continue reporting from Sudan but if they keep bashing the NCP - they'll be kicked out before you know it. Not to mention the fact that 'we' [NCP] enjoy good economical relations that benefits us-- why would we want to ruin that.

but On jazzera being biased. tis true unfortunately, look at the Bahraini case.

last thought, by boycotting they wont actually know your boycotting and hence they will never know what idea your trying to put forth.but a suggestion is going to and suggest a topic about media biased against countries such a sudan.


@BCatDC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
@BCatDC said...

Hi, I'm Ben, I work for The Stream. You certainly got our attention. :) I just got a tweet mentioning your article. A bunch of us are reading your blog right now. I sent the link around. We're sorry that your previous comments weren't included in the show. You are right that there are TONS of conversations to have about Sudan. My wife actually did a lot of work in Juba and Yei leading up to the referendum. Listen, do you have Skype? Where do you live?

Moez Ali said...

Dka: This has nothing to do with the NCP, the SPLM or any political entity in Sudan. There's a conflict - whether political, ethnic or tribal shouldn't matter - and people are dying. There's a severe lack of coverage, which I think quite frankly could be a very interesting debate on The Stream. Discussing consistent lack of coverage and its effects is something that's also being missed in news outlets these days. So, yes, I might give the BBC a shout.

Ben - thank you for reading the post. I live in Kuwait. I think The Stream already has my details because I was recently invited to do a storify. If that's a way to get Sudan to be mentioned then I'm definitely willing to participate.

Dka said...

I agree with you about Sudan being marginalized in the media. The last thing that was covered well was the referendum in January. No one has mentioned Abyei, Darfur [as if people are not dying of famine or massacred],economical sanctions/crisis and lets not forget the affect of South Sudan's independence come july 7. The list goes by all means rant, speak...tell our story. I feel there are many of us who are willing to speak more openly if given a chance.

let me know how things work out with the stream.


Moez Ali said...

Even the referendum in January was overshadowed by the revolutions in the region. I bet you no one knows that the Southern Sudanese voted 99% for secession. I doubt even the July 9th independence will be given the coverage it's due. Just makes you think, if this was Egypt it would've been a completely different story. So it seems if your not of geographical strategic importance you can die all you want, then you MIGHT make a headline or too. It's not only Al Jazeera, everyone neglects Sudan.

KonWomyn said...

You might wanna have a look at this article which appeared on AJE's site recently, questioning the Sudan media bias.

Dka said...

By everyone, i hope you also mean sudan because south of Khartoum, wait even as far as one knows and those who do quickly brush away the information. So, don't blame only the media but we as Sudanese have failed to bring the attention of the world to out issues and this is because we do not campaign for it ourselves.

Read the article link posted above.

Moez Ali said...

Kon: yea, I read the article earlier today. It addresses a very good point and I'm actually working on a blog post to address it. Thanks for sharing though.

Dka: That's very true. It also highlights the inactivity and, frankly, near abolition of local media and news outlets. I don't think any Sudanese journalists are vigorously covering the conflict in the South. You're right in saying that it's our job to publicize Sudan's problems.

SuperMojok said...

watched the stream yes when they talked for 5 sec about sudan, 4 of them about Clooney organization , did not feel MENA audience were the target, more like a show to European n american audience and the presenter is sort of joking guy who take subject lightly which does not bond well with our ppl who r full of anger with at is happening in sudan where