Saturday, 13 April 2013

‘Black and Arab’ rail workers banned during Israeli President visit to France

In a statement issued on April 10 and made public by French investigative news outlet Mediapart, railroad workers union SUD-Rail union revealed that the SNCF [French national rail company] excluded its black and Muslim workers from working at the Gare du Nord station on March 8, as Israeli President, Shimon Peres arrived in Paris by train from Brussels.

The SUD-Rail accused RailStation Manager of Gare de Nord station of excluding “black people and Arabs” from being present for “security” reasons.

The head of SNCF subsidiary ITIREMIA later confirmed that workers had been removed based on their race as a “precautionary principle” to “protect employees from the humiliation they might encounter” at the hands of security personnel.

In a press release from trade union SUD-Rail, the Station Manager is reported to have said the night before the visit that “No Muslim employees must welcome the Israeli Head of State.”

According to the press release, when the workers demanded an explanation, the Manager justified it by saying it was because of “security reasons” and initially suggested it was protocol at the station as well as saying they were instructed to do so by the Israeli Ambassador to France and the Ministry of the Interior.

SNFC denied giving any such instructions.

Written with Abdul Adil for The Muslim News.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Breaking News becomes an advertiser's dream

Last night the power went out during the biggest calendar night in the NHL, the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers took advantage of the change in momentum and nearly overturned a massive deficit in the match. But, honestly, a lot of us were watching the adverts.

The team behind Oreo's marketing campaign on the night, 360i, did an incredible job. Not long after the lights went out - after Oreo's advert had already been aired - the official Oreo Twitter page released this advert:

This is the age when brands have to start interacting with their users - and by interacting with those who were watching the Super Bowl, they garnered a huge amount of interest. When I retweeted it last night, it had 46 retweets. 15 hours later, it has nearly 15,000 retweets.

Catch up with all the adverts from Super Bowl 2013

Last night's main event wasn't the Baltimore Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers. It wasn't the powercut at the Superdome or Flacco's incredible throws. It was Beyoncé's performance, and the brief return of Destiny's Child.

Yet the constant flow of adverts - over 60 during the entire event - have become a tradition of the Super Bowl event. Indeed, advertising spots during the Super Bowl are hugely expensive, simply because of the incredibly large audience. Perhaps Beyoncé's own performance is deemed an advertisement for herself, especially since no artist gets paid for performing at the Super Bowl.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Preparing for Facebook Graph Search

When looking for quotes for articles, publications have traditionally either sent reporters to the streets or have picked up the phone to call an expert. Recently, when writing about specific topics, the hashtag #journorequest has become very popular, with journalists looking for people to speak to through Twitter.

Facebook has been somewhat lagging in that aspect. First they allowed profiles to be publicly visible so that users could follow their favourite journalists/celebrities etc. This gave journalists a wider network and you'll often see some, especially Al Jazeera's Riyaad Minty asking questions to his followers. In return, he often gets between 20-100ish responses. Facebook's Graph Search goes a long way in allowing the social network to become a stronger, and more useful, force for reporters.

So what does it mean and how does it work?

Finding sources

Let's say that you're doing a series on The Future of the Left (a project that The Student Journals is currently undertaking right now). Finding MPs from specific parties is easy, your can find their email addresses on Parliament's website. Finding journalists is a little trickier and a number of columnists will likely not have publication-specific email addresses. So the easiest way to do that right now would be search one particular columnist and you'll often find that they are friends with many journalists with similar values. Yet what if you want to find members of the Young Labour, for example. Facebook currently doesn't really give you that capacity. With Graph Search, you'll be able to search this information.

This should, technically, work for more complicated searches too. For example, you might search: "People who went on a year abroad in the 2011/2012 academic year". This should search for students who spent a year away from their host university for a year.

Finding photos

Student media publications might find this very useful. Often they won't have a lot of many and paying for photos is not possible. Instead, they'll refer to Flickr for Creative Commons images and attribute an image to the photographer. Using Facebook's Graph Search would allow you to search for photos taken at a specific location at a specific time. Let's say, for example, you were looking for pictures of the UK riots taken in Lewisham.

You can put all that information into the search boxes, with specific dates and find images. A short message would then need to be sent, requesting permission to use the picture, but it's worth it if you can get a better picture, or a picture that tells a better story.


If you're a journalist, or going into journalism, here are your next steps:
  1. Go to the bottom of this page, and click 'sign up'. You want to be one of the first it's available to.
  2. If you're open on Twitter, you should be open on Facebook. Look at Nick Kristof's and Zach Seward's profiles for examples of journalists who use Facebook particularly well. So go ahead and let people subscribe to you. A huge number of people prefer Facebook to Twitter and the publications you write for will be happy that you're good at promoting your own work. If you are doing this, however, make sure that you check and double check your privacy settings so subscribers can't see anything you don't them to.

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Originally published in Save the Media, Save the World.