Since its launch in 2010, Meedan's team of journalists, technologists and designers have been developing open-source tools to help reporters navigate and translate news and information online.
Meedan is focused on news from the Arab world and facilitating coverage of issues Western and international media, so launching a round-up of Arab news and conversations trending on social networks seemed like a natural next step.
Arab Media Roundup is set to launch on June 2 in English, and will run as a weekly pilot project throughout June and July, providing a curated list of stories from news outlets in the region, trending topics and humorous coverage and illustrations.
"It came out of conversations in which we discussed the notion of 'digital fixer' and the idea that even in digital communities you need someone who spends time there to understand what is going on," said An Xiao Mina, product manager at Meedan.
"The aim is to give people a window into the conversation taking place in the Arab world," she added, "but we recognise that people not only need translation, they also need to understand the conversation being had and the context in which those conversations are happening."
The newsletter is derived from the work Meedan has been doing with Bridge, its tool for translating and annotating content from social platforms, to support journalists in the social media newsgathering process and help them understand the origin of the conversations around trending topics.
Arab Media Roundup will be available to Meedan subscribers at first – reporters and journalists can register their interest for free on the website – but the content will also be published on Meedan's Medium page a day after the newsletter goes out.
"We realised knowing what to translate is just as important as being able to translate, so we want to provide an opportunity for journalists to cover stories in a different way, or different parts of a story that are not being told broadly in mainstream media.
Mira Nabulsi, who will work alongside Mina and their colleague Tom Trewinnard on curating the newsletter, said the project was also inspired by Meedan's recent collaborations with other media organisations, such as its work with Syria Deeply.
"The idea is also to enrich existing coverage by bringing in more perspectives from people whose lives are affected by those stories," Nabulsi told Journalism.co.uk in an email.
"From Egyptian humour in response to hikes in prices, to how Jordanians debated the ban of the Mashrou’ Leila band concert in Amman, to more tragic events like testimonials of people living the siege and bombardment in Syria."
In the run up to the launch, Nabulsi has been creating lists of Facebook and Twitter accounts of Arab activists, news organisations and human rights organisations, as the social trends section of the newsletter will focus primarily on those two platforms.
She keeps track of major events in the Arab region and compares how they have been covered by international media versus Arab outlets, before determining which stories will be translated and included in the round-up.
"Finally, I go to social media to see if there are reactions or more to be said about those stories.
"The connection between stories in the news and what people are talking about on social media is often complementary, but social media may also be a place where you can anticipate potential future news stories, whether on the political, social or cultural levels."
Each newsletter will also have a form for journalists to provide feedback on the content and format.
Based on the pilot's performance, Meedan is hoping to make it a regular offering, further tailoring the newsletter for individual news organisations, as well as expanding its coverage to other regions, such as Latin America.
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