Andy Carvin visits campus to talk about Tweeting the Arab Spring
- Apr. 12, 2012
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Andy Carvin has become known as “the man who tweets revolutions.”
Famous in the Twitter world as @acarvin, he has reported on Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protest in the Arab world, since it began in late 2010.
Carvin leads NPR’s social media efforts and was interviewed by Bill Lacy, director of Dole Institute of Politics, Wednesday night at the Dole Institute.
“I knew that social media played a part in Arab Spring, but I had no clue exactly how big a role,” Lacy said. “Carvin was extraordinarily insightful.”
“It was always hovering in the background as something I was interested in,” Carvin said. “I don’t consider myself an activist, the sheer act of covering a revolution sheds light on it.”
Describing the current situation of daily public protests in Egypt, Carvin said the tipping point of the revolution was the day the Egyptian government shut off all media.
“They began assembling in public places. Getting a group of people to share openly can be more powerful than people trying to do so behind the scenes,” Carvin said.
Once the people were able to use social media again, Twitter allowed the them to spread the word to other countries, including Tunisia, Syria and North Africa.
“They fought back as fiercely in social media as they did in the streets. The digital natives don’t see a difference between online and offline life,” Carvin said.
Carvin called social media one of the most popular forms of journalism. For people in many Arab nations, Twitter is the quickest way to send information to the rest of the world.
“Especially in journalism, you have to drop the artifice of coverage and audience because on Twitter and Facebook, there is no difference,” Carvin said.
Carvin was covering Arab Spring from America until last June, when visited the Middle East.
“We were a few blocks away from a protest but were unable to see anything. It wasn’t until we got out of there and I pulled out my phone to check my Timeline and then I knew how intense the protest was,” Carvin said.
Even though Carvin lacks a background in journalism, his coverage of Arab Spring was revealing to many.
“Being a journalist is a profession, but journalism is an act,” Carvin said.
Edited by Ian Cummings
Hannah Barling is a sophomore from Arkansas majoring in journalism. Read more from Hannah Barling.