Sunday, November 30, 2008

TIC ET ELECTIONS : les journalistes guinéens renforcent leurs capacités


TIC ET ELECTIONS : les journalistes guinéens renforcent leurs capacités

 Un atelier de formation sur la couverture des élections par l'utilisation  des technologies de l'information et de la
communication (TIC) s'est tenu les 26 et 27 novembre 2008 à l'hôtel Petit Bateau de Conakry et a connu la participation effective d'une
vingtaine de journalistes et certains acteurs clés de la société civile.

Ce séminaire est organisé par l'Institut international pour le  journalisme et les technologies de l'information et de la
communication (TIC) - Penplusbytes, en collaboration avec l'Association des journalistes de la Guinée (AJG), l'Association
Guinéenne des Editeurs de la Presse Indépendante (AGEPI), avec le soutien de Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
  Cet atelier de formation vise à contribuer à une meilleure couverture des élections par les medias, en Guinée Conakry grâce aux
Le premier jour de cette table ronde, les journalistes issus de la télévision, de la radio, de la presse en ligne, de la presse et des
radios communautaires ont eu droit a des communications sur ''le cadre légal des élections'', ''l'organisation pratique des élections'',
''l'excellence dans la couverture des élections avant, pendant et après'', ''le rôle du reportage d'investigation dans la couverture des
La deuxième journée a été essentiellement consacrée à des exercices pratiques. Il a été animé par Kwami Ahiabenu II, Directeur de
Penplusbytes et Gérard Guedegbe, Secrétaire Général du Réseau africain des journalistes d'investigations. Les journalistes ont suivi dans un premier temps des démonstrations sur la création d'un blog, la mise en ligne des photos, des sons, des vidéos etc.
Au cours de la deuxième partie de la journée, ces professionnels des médias ont été invités à créer leurs propres blogs et également leur page de publication d'articles sur les élections en Guinée sur le site du Projet : .
Quant au président de Penplusbytes, M. Kwami Ahiabenu II, il a présenté le projet des élections de Penplusbytes-Osiwa qui couvre
trois que sont : le Ghana, la Côte d'Ivoire et la Guinée.
Le séminaire sur la couverture des élections grâce aux TIC a été ouvert par le Représentant du Président du Conseil National de la
Communication de la Guinée, en la personne de Daniel FRA, conseil de Technique de l'Ambassade France auprès de l'institution. Dans son intervention il va souhaiter que cette formation renforce l'espoir pour la  qualité de la presse guinéenne, vu son importance  à
l'approche des échéances  électorales. Il a surtout remercié Penplusbytes  et OSIWA pour la contribution à la formation des
journalistes guinéens  sur la couverture électorale grâce aux  TIC.
Dans son message, Mme Idiatou Bah Responsable du Programme Gouvernance à OSIWA a souhaité la pleine implication des journalistes, leur engagement personnel, afin que la formation soit une réussite.
Le président du Penplusbytes, M. Kwami Ahiabenu II,  a, quant à lui, insisté sur la nécessité de former les journalistes à l'utilisation
des TIC pour réussir les élections en Guinée ; mais surtout permettre à ceux-ci  de participer à la création de contenu en ligne.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Webb on the Web: Advanced Twitter: The "hashtag"

Webb on the Web: Advanced Twitter: The "hashtag"

By Amy Webb, IJNet Digital Media Consultant

So you've got a Twitter account, you've started posting and have some followers... what comes next?

Try out using the hashtag (#) to enhance your community and your posting. Hashtags were developed to help people create groups without having to change the software that powers Twitter.

Often times, when there's a big event or conference taking place, Twitter users will decide on a common keyword and then include it in every tweet so that others can follow the conversation.

Here's how a big news organization used the hashtag to cover our recent election in the U.S. During the U.S. vice presidential debate, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch encouraged twitterers to watch the broadcast and include #vpdebate with every relevant post. They could then search for all of the commentary by visiting and searching under #vpdebate.

It was a success! From the blog of Kurt Greenbaum, the director of social media at the Post-Dispatch:

The day before the debate, Oct. 1, Twitterers used it 11 times. It's first use on Debate Day was early and by someone I didn't know (Kristin Smith) from a place I can't identify. I also reached out to some of my Twitter friends and asked them to use it during the day. They all retweeted about it, and made use of it - as did colleagues in the newsroom.

By about 4 p.m. central time, Twitter Search started showing that the #vpdebate tag was among its top 10 "trending" topics and at about 5 p.m., it was No. 6 on the list. By 6 p.m., nearly 100 tweets had been made with that tag. Two hours later, when the debate began, another 400 had been added. And as the debate was underway, I couldn't read the tweets fast enough. From debate time until I stopped looking at 11:30 p.m., it was trending No. 1 on Twitter Search.

Another useful tool? You can use and hashtags to track zeitgeist. If you're someone who follows trends or even a particular company, you should consider running a search a few times a day on various terms of interest to you. For example, I'm interested in mobile... so I often search #mobile or #cellphone or #mobiles. Try it yourself to see what you find!

The key is to conceive of a good tag and then spread the word. Once you have built a community and it's feeding comments, links and other data, you can wildly enhance your reporting and observation of just about any topic. And if you don't want to stay on to watch the action, you can also subscribe to that feed via RSS and simply track all of the new entries using your reader!

For more information, visit and @hashtags on Twitter. Visit here to download a free Twitter how-to guide.

To read all of Amy Webb's Webb on the Webb columns, click here.

Follow me on Twitter! Amy Webb is a digital media consultant and head of Webbmedia Group, LLC. Find more multimedia tips and ideas at her blog, Webbmedia Group is a vendor-neutral company. Any opinions expressed about products or services are formed after testing, research and interviews. Neither Amy Webb nor Webbmedia Group or its employees receives any financial or other benefits from vendors.

Media accreditation for Dec 7 Election

Journalists, both local and foreign and their crew going to cover the December 7 polls are requested to submit their passport-size photographs to the Ghana International Press Centre for accreditation by the Electoral Commission.

Applicants must state their name and their media organisation. Local media organisations are advised to submit a group application which should be endorsed by their Editors or head of organisation.

In the case of foreign media personnel they must first register with the Ministry of Information and National Orientation which will assist them to pass their documents to the Press Centre. Foreign applicants will be required to produce their press cards.

Applications should be labeled "Media Accreditation for December 2008 Election" and addressed to the Director, Ghana International Press Centre.

The deadline for the submission of application is Monday, December 1, 2008.

Applicants for special voting which takes place on December 2, 2008 should state their name, age, media organization, constituency polling station and voter identity card number.

All individual and group applications are to be labeled Media Special Voting.

Regional GJA executives are to take charge of the two exercises in the various regions and submit applications to the Regional Director of the Electoral Commission.

source : daily graphic

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ghana Elections News and Live Results on your mobile/twitter ?

Ghana Elections 2008 is around the corner

Do you want to keep abreast with elections News and certified results via your mobile ?
If you are based in Ghana send the word                subscribe
to 1927 (all networks) via text message for regular up to date Ghana Elections News, updates and certified presidential and parliamentary results.

If you currently not living in Ghana, please follow us on and linked it to your mobile phone 

This service is brought to you by
supported by OSIWA and co-ordinated by the International Institute for ICT Journalism (penplusbytes)

Happy Peaceful Ghana Elections 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Twittering the election… and wondering if this is the right tool

Many of my friends who are following the US election intensely are supporting Twitter Vote Report. It's a very cool mashup designed to let people report voting irregularities by sending a message to #votereport on Twitter and using a restricted syntax to report on the experience. The website will visualize the reports as they come in and will be able to store reports of slow voting sites and polling places that experience complaints of malfunctioning machines or people preventing voters from accessing the polls.

A sample report:

Syd Sallabanks: #votereport #early Boise 83716 zip. #good experience to vote early. Boise friends follow

I can't help comparing this laudable project to some of the projects I've seen in African countries designed to increase voter transparency. Some of those projects have used SMS. Election monitors in Nigeria used Kiwanja's SMS gateway, FrontlineSMS to monitor the recent presidential election. And SMS likely helped the opposition MDC insist that it had won the first round of presidential balloting this year - election reports were posted outside each polling place, and MDC activists used SMS to report each tally to a central office, where they were tallied and revealed an MDC victory, if not a majority.

But the most effective vote monitoring projects I've seen are in countries with a free and thriving indepedent media. In Ghana, talk radio is by far the most important medium for discussing politics. During the 2000 elections, citizens who had trouble at the polls - groups trying to intimidate voters or prevent some people from voting - called talk radio stations and reported their troubles. This was probably more effective than calling election officials or other authorities - since the obstacles to voting were reported live, the radio stations could continue reporting on the situation until authority figures intervened and ensured people could vote. (It's possible that election authorities might have ignored calls to their offices and claimed they'd never been received.) As it turned out, the 2000 presidential election in Ghana was peaceful and put the opposition party in power for the first time in decades.

The mobile plus radio system works very well for monitoring for two reasons - it's easy for citizens to use (they just call a radio station, something many of them do frequently to participate in call-in shows) and the reports are immediately available to a large audience (everyone who listens to talk radio, which is, basically, everyone.) I'm not sure that TwitterVote covers the same bases, at least by itself. It's easy for Twitter users, and certainly possible for those who don't use Twitter regularly to participate by texting to a shortcode. But the messages directly reach a fairly small audience - there aren't very accurate numbers for active Twitter users, but Techcrunch estimates the number at under a million, which certainly includes some non-US users. So TwitterVote needs to be thought of as collection mechanism for reports, which can be disseminated through other media.

This, for me, raises the question of why Twitter is the right tool to use for this project. Is it because it's easy to crate mashups around? Because it's the tool-du-jour for the digitally experimental set? Or is it a reflection of how impenetrable mainstream radio and television appears to be for most American citizens? The media that continues to be disproportionately important for most American households is still local, broadcast television news, despite declines in recent years and increase in web usage. When we design tools for election monitoring, are we ignoring local news because we expect it to be uncooperative and impenetrable? Or are we just playing with the tools we know and like, whether or not they're the best way to reach a broad audience?

WAXAL Blogging Africa Awards

Dear all,

The WAXAL Blogging Africa Awards are an initiative of Panos Institute of West Africa with the partnership of Highway Africa and Global Voices.

WAXAL (pronounced WA-HAL) means "speak" in Wolof (Senegalese language) and the word captures the essence of the evolution of the worldwide web as a platform for conversation and for the raising of marginalized voices.

For this first edition, the WAXAL Awards will seek to recognize the production of blogs by people working as journalists (from all kind of media: print, online, radio, TV) and by African organizations working to favour the production of alternative information and citizen expression.

3 categories  have been chosen: Best French-speaking Journalist Blog, Best English-speaking Journalist Blog, Best Citizen Journalist Blog produced by an African Organization.

Each winner of the first two categories will receive a cash sum of F CFA 1,000,000 (about 2,000 USD).  The organization winner of the third category will receive a cash sum of F CFA 2,000,000 (about USD 4,000). The reference currency is F CFA.

All the blogs showing a good quality will also be promoted.

Deadline for nomination of blogs : 7 December 08

See the Waxal Africa Blogging Awards blog for further information.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dan Gillmor writes new book about principles for news consumers

At the Blogboat event in Belgium citizen journalism expert Dan Gillmor spoke about a new book dealing with principles for news consumers, writes Dorien Aerts.

According to Gillmor, consumers should look at the news with skepticism and judgment. Moreover they should do research when something isn't clear or when they need a second opinion.

"That's exactly what the people who sold their stocks after hearing that Steve Jobs had a heart attack, didn't do. It was their stupidity to immediately believe the false news. Which makes them responsible as well, and not only the citizen journalist who wrote the article."

(When Googling, I found a lot of people blaming the citizen journalist who wrote the news (eg this one)).

The fourth principle mentioned by Gilmor is independence. He encourages news consumers to read stuff that challenges what they believe.

Last but not least Gillmor wants people to be aware of and recognize the techniques used by journalists to persuade them of something.

According to Gillmor, we are moving to the Daily Us (versus the Daily Me) or community driven news. Popularity and reputation will play the most important roles within that model.

"And whoever succeeds in combining those two, will be big".

This Daily Us will be driven by thouroughness, accuracy, fairness, independence and transparancy, "Principles every journalist agrees on."

In order to achieve this Daily Us, the participation of traditional media and the help of citizen journalists are needed, says Gillmor. But also parents and schools are of the utmost importance, in teaching children how to deal with news. "Children should know that Wikipedia is the best starting point, but the worst place to stop."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mobiles for media empowerment

Today, all eyes are on the United States with one of the most anticipated Presidential elections in decades. Amidst the excitement lurks the ever-present concern over potential election day chaos, and fears of a repeat of what happened in Florida eight years ago. Once again, mobile technology is also being touted as one way of smoothing election day progress and how it's reported, as it has been in almost every election around the world in recent years. The proposed use of Twitter is perhaps the one key addition in USA'08.

In the coming months three West African countries also go to the polls - Ghana, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire. Sadly, access to balanced and unbiased election information is often a key problem in these countries. The logistical challenges of running nationwide elections is often compounded by a lack of election-specific knowledge among local media, which can often lead to misreporting, misinformation and - in worse-case scenarios - civil unrest. Availability of ICT tools for local journalists can also be problematic, compounding the problem yet further.

To address some of these challenges, the International Institute for ICT Journalism, in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), are embarking on the "West African Elections Information and Knowledge Project".

The project seeks to strengthen the role of the media in election reporting through the training of senior editors, journalists and reporters; developing and disseminating an 'Election Reporting Guide for the Media'; the use of text messaging in election coverage and monitoring with FrontlineSMS; and the creation of a Knowledge Online Portal.

The use of mobile technology in election monitoring may be nothing new, although promoting the use of text messaging specifically as a media enabler represents something of a departure from its usual use by official election monitor groups. The choice of FrontlineSMS is also significant. The software has already been successfully implemented in Nigeria to enable what is widely believed to be Africa's first citizen election monitoring project, and it was used in the last Philippine elections to help organise official monitoring teams around the country. In recent weeks it has also been lined up to help register 135,000 overseas Filipino workers in advance of the upcoming 2010 elections.

Further details on the West African election project are available via the Africa Election Portal website, and updates will also be posted on the blog as the project moves forward.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Using 'Twitter Vote Report' in Your Online Election Coverage

        "I thought it might be a good reporting exercise/cool experiment to set up a Twitter feed for us all to contribute to and report on any voting irregularities, voter intimidation, equipment problems, counting issues, etc. that we come across on Tuesday night," said UMass Amherst journalism instructor  Steve Fox  (  via e-mail to a diverse group of news people and academics.

What a good idea, I thought -- but as a perpetual Twitter user (drbarb ( ), I recalled seeing a Twitter post ("tweet") about that kind of site. My sense of where the future of news lies tells me that "newsies" shouldn't be too quick to reinvent the wheel, especially when it's a tech wheel. Instead of launching a DIY online project it's important to first scout around online and evaluate existing efforts. When you find them, it's best to  work with them  to build synergies between those sites and your own efforts.

Journalists and technologists do need to work together, as  Amy Gahran has suggested . One way to start is to leverage social networking and the link economy to your benefit by sharing the workload with existing projects.

For the type of election watch project Fox was considering, David Cohn (digidave (  on Twitter) recommends Twitter Vote Report (
)  -- a non-partisan, nonprofit site. Cohn also set up a Digg recommendation (  pointing to the project's site. Twitter Vote Report also was mentioned by  Ana Marie Cox  (  in's Swampland blog, the Orlando Sentinel (,0,4183034.story) , Rocketboom ( , and Mashable ( . And of course, the site has been getting widely tweeted and blogged, too.
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