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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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Calling itself the National Committee for the Redress of Democracy and Restoration of the State (CNRDRE is the acryonym in French), the junta drew immediate criticism. "The Malian military seize power within 1 month and a half of presidential elections scheduled for 29 April, 2012," pointed @JusticeJFK, adding "This is one of the + ridiculous coups d'état that Africa has known. What will the putschists promise? An election? It's in 1 month!"

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Journalist and Columbia University professor Howard French offered some contextual analysis about the ousted president. "No political prisoners in Mali. No jailed journalists. ATT not perfect, but far better than many others," he tweeted. Another tweet, by Andrew Lebovich, summarized the feeling of Mali observers. "Sigh. So much for that Malian democracy."

Today, the first post-democracy day, most independent Malian newspapers, including Malijet and Journal du Mali, published as normal and independent radio stations such as Radio Kledu and Radio Kayira were on air covering the coup, local journalists told CPJ. However, the state newspaper, L'Essor, was leading its website today with a sports story and made no mention of the coup.

While the future of Mali's hitherto free press is unclear, the Twitter narrative demonstrated the ways in which traditional media are increasingly less relevant in any case. "Marking papers, with one ear tuned to RFI. But def got more quality reporting from Twitter today about #Mali than from any other medium," tweeted Philippe M. Frowd, a MacMaster University doctoral student living in Canada. As if acknowledging Frowd, traveler Hans-Peter Anzinger opened a Twitter account today, disclosing that he was in Bamako. "Cause of the military in Bamako Mali I desided to be part of the twitter thing ;-)" he wrote on his Twitter profile.

Mohamed Keita is advocacy coordinator for CPJ's Africa Program. He regularly gives interviews in French and English to international news media on press freedom issues in Africa and has participated in several panels. Follow him on Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Africa bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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