With coup, #Mali generates noise on Twitter
During Tuesday's coup in relatively stable Mali, a dearth of information from standard news outlets made Twitter the go-to source for information.
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As the news grew into a global headline, Phil Paoletta, an expat based in Bamako, offered some advice for those just tuning in. "Anyone paying attention to #Mali for the first time-pls know that there is a lot more to this country than what you will read+see+hear today," he tweeted.Skip to next paragraph
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Indeed, Mali, until yesterday, had been one of the most stable and successful democracies in Africa, complete with free and abundant – though not always professional – media. In fact, the last time the Committee to Protect Journalists documented an attack on the Malian media was 2007.
The unexpected unrest prompted demands for reliable and contextual information. Mike Sefanov, a senior editor at Storyful, jumped on citizen reporter photos of the streets of Bamako and sought to contact their authors. "Hello, is this your photo? Did you take it yourself? Can the news networks use your photos of Bamako?" he tweeted to @ofalsen.
Evan Hill, an Al Jazeera English online producer, offered some direction for balanced coverage. "For news from #Mali follow @presidencemali and @martinvogl," he tweeted. Martin Vogl, a Bamako-based freelance journalist, was reporting for the BBC and other news outlets and became an authoritative source for international media. One of his tweets – "National radio and television in Mali have been cut. Soldiers have taken over the [state broadcaster] ORTM building" – was retweeted 71 times. Fabien Offner, another journalist on the ground, cast some doubt on the suggestion that soldiers were merely mutinying to demand better equipment to fight rebels. "In any case in Bamako, the military have apparently enough munitions for fun shooting in the air," he tweeted.