Now Al Jazeera integrates Twitter into its shows

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Can you name a scientist? Not too many Americans can, it turns out.

In a sign of the growing importance of micro-blogging in communication, and let’s face it Twitter is the daddy of this, the icon of Middle Eastern TV network Al Jazeera is now integrating Tweets from its viewers into its output. During the popular Minbar Al Jazeera talk show, Twitter users can now send comments and feedback about popular topics. This may sound like old news to those of you in Western Europe or Silicon Valley, but let me tell you, this is radical stuff in the Middle East.

Minbar Al Jazeera is a weekly show on Al Jazeera Arabic that covers various topics of interest to its audience. During the show, viewers call in or send e-mails. Now they tweet as well, using the show’s official Twitter profile. Since the show already enjoys a lot of interaction, Twitter and social media seem to be a natural fit.

While Al Jazeera leads the way in the Middle East, Al Jazeera English, launched in 2006, is one of the three largest English language 24 hour news channels available worldwide. The other two are of course CNN International and BBC World.

The integration of Twitter into Minbar Al Jazeera is not, however, their first effort in social media. The Riz Khan Show, a talk show on the english channel, mentions Twitter and Facebook. The show’s host, Riz Khan, actively receives questions from both sources. And perhaps they got turned on to the idea by their below report about the TwitchHiker:

On Twitter Al Jazeera now provides:

While CNN might not use Twitter very well lately, Al Jazeera’s new media team is trying to lead the way and help its network embrace new platforms. Safdar Mustafa, head of the Mobile Media Unit, told Techcrunch Europe:

For Al Jazeera, it’s not about Twitter, Facebook or YouTube as such, it’s more about engaging with our viewers and actively involving them in our shows. Yes, Twitter is very popular at the moment and a great medium for quick communication with our viewers. It makes for a great tool for shows such as Minbar Al Jazeera. However, nobody is quite sure what the new and popular platform will be tomorrow.

With a global reach, dedicated new media team and very popular branded YouTube channel, Al Jazeera is trying to hold its own. Will the network recognize new platforms in the future remains to be seen, but judging by what Al Jazeera has accomplished in the last couple of years, it’s a good bet they might.

(Thanks to the familiar sounding ArabCrunch for the heads up).

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