04 Jan 2013
Today we are archiving news.meedan.net, our multilingual news site about the MENA region. The site which launched to the public on February 19, 2008 [check this] was built in partnership with the great team at IBM led by John Tolva with Salim Roukos. News.meedan remains one of the first models for hybrid, crowdsourced translation and stands as one of the web’s few cross-lingual websites (facilitating interaction across languages and not just a content toggle on a CMS).
Our reason for archiving news.meedan is simply that we are working on a new media curation project called Checkdesk. In the next two months 12 full time journalists will start work at a new ‘desk’ at six media partners around the MENA - this ‘desk’ is a fact-checking and live blogging desk that will facilitate collaborations between newsrooms and citizen journalists fact checking social media content. Yes, its a cool project and we are excited to be working on it. And, it has a sister project - translatedesk - which will be the ‘next-gen’ hybrid translation superapp. Really.
But, we are committed to ‘keeping the links alive’ and seeing the news.meedan archive continue to provide value as a free and open Arabic-English database. We’ve archived the entirety of the website’s editorial and translation data, and over time this dataset will be incorporated into our future product releases. The news site data is valuable both as the seed for a bilingual source and entity data and as the largest available user-generated open licensed dataset of parallel corpora for research and machine training.
There is another benefit of the news.meedan site that will continue on - language learning. Last week when our servers skipped a beat the first email we received was from an Arabic language learner - ‘I can’t access Meedan - I really need to practise my Arabic, is Meedan going to be up soon?’
So, the news.meedan project will continue to provide value to language learners, researchers, and anyone who wants to dig a bit deeper into the recent history of the MENA. However, it will not be the codebase and the initiative that Meedan’s engineers support and improve.
In 2013 we are going to focus on improving journalism workflow tools rather than doing content production and translation in house. Meedan has long ago evolved from a content and translation community building effort to a creative project and technology design and development team. We’re now partnering with established and promising media outlets in the region, from Al-Masry Al-Youm in Egypt to 7iber in Jordan, Ma’an in Palestine to Annahar in Lebanon.
We would like to again thank our incredibly talented team of authors, translators and editors for their dedication and hard work on the news.meedan project. We are very proud of the work that has gone into the news.meedan site and too are grateful to the netizens who have surfed the news.meedan waters over the past five years.
We hope you’ll join us as we dig deeper into emerging journalism technology and supporting the future of a multi-lingual web.