Global News Journal

Flashmobs target Merkel at final election rallies

September 24, 2009

Getting pelted by eggs or tomatoes is an occupational hazard for most hardened politicians on the election trail.******But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking re-election on Sunday, has been confronted with a new kind of protest during her final campaign rallies: flashmobs.******The mobs, groups of people summoned over the Internet to show up at a specific time and place to do something unusual, have materialised at several election events in the last week to wave flags and banners and heckle the unsuspecting Merkel.******Mostly, they have been chanting “Yeahhhh!” after every sentence she utters and the slogan is meant as an ironic expression of support.******It may not sound like the most damaging critique, but Merkel has cottoned on to the flashmobs and now even addresses them at the rallies as “My young friends from the Internet”.******So is this a new form of political protest or just a bit of fun?******Blogger Rene Walter, who writes for nerdcore, says there is a serious idea behind the light-hearted gatherings.******”We are not just going to swallow the election messages, we are spitting back the rubbish Merkel speaks in the ironic form of a “Yeahhh!”, he says in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.******Many involved in the flashmobs support the Pirate Party, who are popular among young voters and oppose what they say is censorship of the Internet that has been brought in under Merkel’s government.******One thing is for sure. Flashmobs are injecting some much-needed spontaneity into the final days of a campaign which many voters think has been the most turgid in decades.******But are flashmobs here to stay? Could they become the political protest movement of the Internet age?

Merkel ally insult of Romanians, Chinese an internet scoop

September 5, 2009

In the “old days” of journalism, before the rise of the internet, an alert journalist might pick up on a politician’s gaffe in the middle of an election speech or somewhere on the campaign trail and publish or broadcast a story with the potential to change the dynamic of a race.

Web crackdown spreads

July 21, 2009

— David L. Stern covers the former Soviet Union and the Black Sea region for GlobalPost, where this article originally ran. —

Twittering from the front-lines

January 14, 2009

Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?

Protesters rule the web in internet backwater Greece

December 18, 2008

      Greek youths long angry with dim
prospects in a society they see as corrupt
and unfair, lashed out last week in the
country’s most violent and destructive riots
in decades.     Sparked by the Dec. 6 police killing of
a 15-year-old, the protests quickly
travelled through Greek communities and
other sympathisers from Moscow to New York, and rang a warning bell for Europe as the
global crisis starts to take its toll.     The Greek youths’ message moved so fast
over the Web and the
international response was so immediate that
it surprised many in a country seen as the
Internet backwater of Europe.     “They seem to have quickly developed an
alternative, electronic news forum, which
has no limits, no taboos,” wrote commentator
Antonis Karakousis in the major daily To
. “We are obviously living in different times.”     Greek youths appeared to reject
traditional media and set up their own ways
to communicate – internet and SMS messages.     Facebook profiles were quickly set up for the killed
teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The
policeman who shot him has been charged with
murder and ordered jailed pending trial.     Through SMS, students quickly called for
the occupation of university buildings and
gatherings. Sites such as transmitted
their message, mobilised and drew support
for their protests.     “Legal help: what to do if you are
arrested,” is one link on indymedia, while
the site keeps the daily roster of protests
updated to the minute.     “Let’s keep this to our original
reporting, information we collect ourselves
and let’s leave outside what the media
establishment says,” one contributor wrote.     A group of young protesters showed their
contempt for mainstream television by
gathering in the central Monastiraki square
and smashing TV sets. They did not allow
news cameramen to film them.     Another group calmly walked through the
gates of the state television building and
briefly took over the news studio. They came
on the air and silently held up signs
protesting the teenager’s killing and
coverage by the media, which many young
Greeks see as part of the establishment.     “We must not be afraid, we must turn off
our TVs, get out of our homes, continue to
fight, take life into our own hands,” read
pamphlets they handed to employees as they
left the building.     “Young people are shouting ‘No’ to a
miserable present and a dead-end future,”
wrote Yannis Yannarakis in Ta Nea. “And they
are shouting it through the internet.”