Follow Hub 2012 U.S. Elections @Haydarpaşa Trailer Video:
While American Presidential Elections continues, a multi-layered election watch program occurred back in Istanbul, Turkey at the Historical Haydarpaşa Train Station.
This post is a brief evaluation of what happened in the program through the eyes of a new media coordinator, that is, me.
Kumand TV interview with Erkan:
The program was initiated by US Diplomatic Mission in Turkey and I guess US Istanbul Consulate had the initiative. In previous elections, election watch programs happened to be in small scale, with more limited guests and with less public appeal. Barack Obama?s social media powered political campaign has arrived Turkey and we did have a new media powered, more public event to occur in this election.
The consulate people decided to work with Institute of Creative Minds Despite its name, this is not an ?institute? per se. It is a social media powered platform consisting of some college students and newly graduated ones and among many projects, one particularly got attention: SOCIAL/IST 2012 That event inspired Follow Hub 2012.
The third major partner in this event was CNN Türk. CNN?s Turkish partnership is owned by Doğan Media Group. The channel became the media sponsor of the event and broadcasted live for all the time. The live broadcast was moderated by a veteran TV Journalist and Presenter, Ahu Özyurt, probably the best candidate for such a position as she is also a very friendly personality towards new media people.
From the moment I was contacted, the idea was to empower the event with new media tools. However, maybe CNN Türk was not briefed or more likely they decided to ignore the other elements until the last moments- as a likely traditional media pattern- . An even more friendly and productive collaboration could be developed but this is still early to imagine. Still, as I will portray in following paragraphs this event became a lab, local milestone for new media people.
In order to understand the event better, one should also note that there were three classes of attendees to the event. 1) Protocol and other guests, 2) Students mostly from political science or international relations departments 3) Media people. New and old media together. [Three hubs] CNN Türk live broadcasting studio was located in the Protocol hub which happened to be between media and academy hub. There was also a food court style section which was as big as three hubs together and all attendees could have access to all (4) sections.
Now comes a summary of new media usage. When I was involved with the event, two Twitter hashtags were already decided: #benceamerikanbaskani and #notetouspresident I would suggest different and shorter/ more catchy hashtags but maybe there was a logic I do not as I was not in the meeting when these were decided. However, this did not prevent a flood of tweets. In a multi-layered production style, these hashtags were the only unifying tools. Everything produced in the event or outside the event who decided to join the conversation hashtagged his/her pieces. As can be expected, Turkish hashtag was much more used.
In the Academy hub, İsmail Hakkı Polat, new media studies professor at Kadir Has U, initiated a crash course for the attending political science students on how to contribute online to the election conversation. All invited students were told to come with their tablets or notebooks. Prof. Polat later joined us, at the media hub bloggers? desk and he himself began to contribute. Here students began to contribute through hashtags and their own channels.
In the Protocol/CNN Türk hub, Ahu Özyurt moderated the live broadcast. There were several skype interviews. One included me talking to a group of students from Georgetown University. CNN Türk crew also filmed the event and bloggers and others could be seen in the TV broadcast.
In the Media Hub, there were 4 types of people. Media people consisted of two types: traditional media correspondents and social media/blogger personalities. These occupied 4 big tables with their laptops and tablets. They were all accredited as media people with equal rights/opportunities. This might be have happened for the first time at such a scale in a political event. Consulate people helped all media people to interview diplomats and other guests including Ambassdor Ricciardone. In fact, the latter sit up with bloggers and did chat a little bit. My special thanks to new media people that included also representatives from Bobiler.org, Ekşi Sözlük, Uludağ Sözlük, Change.org Turkey section: Nihan Guneli, Bahriye Sarıkaya, Nağme Öğmen, Ezgi Tuzun, Serdar Paktin, Burak Bayburtlu, Kaan Özlüer, Zeki Enes Akkan, Yiğit Kalafatoğlu, Melih Bayram Dede, Serhatcan Yurdam, Emre Boztepe, Murat Karakaş, İsmail Alpen, Simge Sezer, Sinan Aşçı, Seçil Altınışık, Neslihan Öztürk…
Interview with Ambassador Ricciardone:
The bloggers blogged in their owns sites but also contributed to hashtag. And sometimes they created new hashtags such as #followhub There was a third section in the media hub: Kumanda TV table. This web tv startup aimed to produce a video in every hour during the event, mostly interviews with the attendees. All videos can be found here. All video links were hashtagged so that it could reach to a wider audience.
The fourth section in the media hub was editors? table. Most of the editors were college students or newly graduated ones. Most of them were from Bilgi U and members of a newly founded Digital Communications Club. They had edited the hashtagged twitter messages through a simple application developed by Creative Minds Inst. Those moderated twitter messages were projected to larger screens that could be found in all over the building. We had decided to moderate insults, obscenity and intensive conspiratorial material. These were the guiding keywords but I have had trust in the editors to choose what to filter if necessary. All things went well. Editorial table was the object of several interviews by mainstream journalists, and in the mean time, editors also contributed to hashtag.
Interview with editors (humorous) by Neslihan Öztürk:
From my perspective this was a media lab/practice that demonstrated the potential for future collaborations between not only traditional and new media but also between political, diplomatic and civil actors through social media platforms. It was a multi-layered news production no one could guess what would happen. At the end of the event, I felt satisfied- not always I am-, it is was not most sensational event in Turkey but was a building block….
Here are some links:
One of the best blog posts about the event was released by Yiğit Kalafatoğlu here.
Storify used by Serhatcan Yurdam to curate the flow of information and images:
Çiğdem Toparlak wrote for Zete
Mainstream dailies also mentioned the event:
Hürriyet Dünyası Haydarpaşa?dan yayın yaptı.
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