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Al Jazeera Launches Its Great Social Media Experiment

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Al Jazeera Launches Its Great Social Media Experiment

Al Jazeera will launch its new social media project called "The Stream" May 2.

Not only did social media change the course of political history in the Middle East, it changed the charges of illegitimacy against Al Jazeera by some American politicians.

In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Al Jazeera is winning the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East because it is "real news."

Perhaps riding that unlikely endorsement and coattails of a sweeping call to reforms across the Middle East called "Revolution 2.0," the Qatar-based news station is looking to invade the US market through social media.

Most US cable and satellite providers do not offer Al Jazeera English or Arabic to its subscribers. But viewership in the US is still at an all time high thanks to a smartphone live-streaming app and live-streams online.

If cable and satellite providers won't put Al Jazeera on its airwaves, the station seems to be saying it will sidestep the providers and go straight to the web.

Al Jazeera announced it will launch a new show May 2 that relies heavily on the technology coming out of the Silicon Valley.

"The Stream"  will rely almost entirely on Facebook and Twitter through Storify and its interactions with fans there to decide what gets on the newscast.

Unlike other news programs with a website and social media components, this one will actually allow users to determine what appears on the cast.

In fact one of the two co-anchors of the show, Derrick Ashong, was plucked straight from YouTube stardom.

There will of course still be editorial meetings and producers will try to filter through trending reactions to a pre-scheduled event -- such as the Grammys -- and real news.

"When we come to do an editorial meeting the following day, we may say 'Hey, there was a lot traction around this story, but people raised x, y, and z questions that they want more answers to," Ashong told Fast Company.

The show will only air for 30 minutes, but Ashong says he prefers to think of its as a 24-hour news channel that lives through the web that happens to air a 30-minute show a day.

While Ashong will try to engage a virtual community, Al Jazeera will use the show to help further its reach within the US market.

"The Stream" will have a distinctly US feel to it. Not only will the show be filmed in Washington, D.C. but the two hosts are Americans as well.

Al Jazeera is hoping to appeal to a growing segment of American society that is unplugging their cable and using an HDMI to hook their MacBook up to their televisions instead.

The move is a preemptive strike of circumstance. If the cable companies won't take Al Jazeera to the masses, Al Jazeera will take itself to the masses running away from the cable companies.

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