Daniel Bennett


June 22, 2013

Digital Media and Reporting Conflict: The book and the end of Reporting War

This blog has been dormant for a while and the publication of Digital Media and Reporting Conflict: Blogging and the BBC’s Coverage of War and Terrorism is the right time to formally close it. It’s been an amazing journey over the last five years or so and I’ve really enjoyed working on the project, documenting it on the Frontline Club website, […]


November 21, 2012

From Cast Lead to Pillar of Defense: How the IDF has learnt to communicate war in Gaza online

In 2009, I wrote a blog post arguing that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had “fallen off the social media bandwagon”. Their digital media campaign in support of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was hastily conceived, unimaginative and anti-‘social’. New tools were used to disseminate traditional military messages with little regard for a new online […]


September 10, 2012

Is drone journalism coming to the UK?

In November 2011, Polish firm RoboKopter filmed striking images of a political demonstration in Warsaw using a video camera attached to a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The New York Times heralded the footage as signalling the arrival of ‘drone journalism’. Since then, we haven’t seen many newsgathering drones in UK skies, but we might […]


August 22, 2012

US Navy to spend $249 million on “battlespace awareness”

The US Navy has announced that it will spend up to an estimated $249 million on “battlespace awareness”. Last Thursday, the Navy awarded a new contract to five intelligence, computer and security companies to provide both hardware and “the development, integration, and test of intelligence, battlespace awareness, and information operations applications”.


February 2, 2012

Social media from the front line

Major Paul Smyth is one of the people responsible for changing the Ministry of Defence’s approach to social media particularly in the context of front line operations. I’ve spoken to him previously for the Frontline Club about his Frontline bloggers project.  In this interview with David Bailey, Maj. Smyth talks in some detail about how […]


December 29, 2011

MSF aid workers shot in Somalia

Associated Press is reporting that two people working for the aid group, Médecins Sans Frontières, have been shot in Mogadishu. At least one person is believed to have been killed.  The incident is reportedly related to an internal staffing issue – AP quoted MSF worker Ahmed Ali, who claimed that a recently fired employee was responsible […]


December 15, 2011

General Richards: The media “frequently draw the wrong conclusion” on Afghanistan

The Chief of the Defence Staff gave an annual lecture to the Royal United Services Institute last night. General Sir David Richards spoke broadly about the global environment, the response of the armed forces and particular strategic challenges. He argued that Britain’s main challenge was economic and emphasised the cultivation of strategic alliances to compensate […]


December 14, 2011

Five links from 2011: ‘Twitter’

I am picking out a few of the more interesting links from my 2011 delicious bookmarks. On Monday, I selected five from my ‘war reporting’ tag. Today, I’ve selected another five from among the bookmarks I labelled ‘Twitter’ in my delicious account.  Enjoy!   1. ‘Visualising the New Arab Mind‘ Computational historian Kovas Boguta visualises the Twitter influence […]


December 12, 2011

Five links from 2011: ‘War Reporting’

This year I bookmarked at least 530 links on delicious. I know that because I try to tag each bookmark by year – I’m three hundred or so links down on last year’s total of 854. Seeing as we’re coming to the end of the year I thought I’d pick out a few of the […]


December 7, 2011

Russian blogger arrested after post-election protests

Russian blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has been arrested after participating in post-election protests in Moscow against the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  The BBC has a good profile of Navalny which explains how his Livejournal blog gained traction for exposing corruption: "The popularity of his blog allowed him to start mobilising internet users to take an active part in […]


November 10, 2011

Twitter memorial for members of the Canadian Forces

  The Ottawa Citizen has started a memorial Twitter account for members of the Canadian Forces who have lost their lives in conflict. The account will tweet the name of one service member at 11 minutes past every hour. The name is chosen at random by a computer from a list of more than 119,000 Canadians killed […]


October 20, 2011

BBC Editor says he was advised to pull journalists from Libya by Foreign Office

On the eve of the fall of Sirte, the BBC’s World News Editor has revealed that the Foreign Office “strongly recommended” to broadcasters that they pull their journalists out of Libya prior to the start of NATO’s bombing campaign. Speaking at yesterday evening’s Frontline Club event on the pressures of reporting conflict, Jon Williams said […]


October 12, 2011

Notes on ‘Libya and the Arab Spring’ at the Media Society

So yesterday I tried to fit too many things at too many different places into one day and ended up being late for the Media Society event on reporting Libya and the ‘Arab Spring’.  But here are a few incomplete notes on the panel discussion… 1. BBC vs Sky News reporting of Tripoli I think […]


October 3, 2011

Reporting the Arab Spring: the mirage of the ‘authentic voice’

I’m breaking the radio silence on the blog to post the introduction to my latest book chapter for Mirage in the Desert: Reporting the Arab Spring. (Not to be confused with Mirage in the Dessert…that is something entirely different.) My chapter uses the case of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog, (a hoax which purported […]


August 22, 2011

Libya: Reporting the advance on Tripoli

Rebel forces have jubilantly entered the Libyan capital Tripoli, although fighting still continues in several parts of the city. For a round up of the latest news check out this list on the Small Wars Journal website. Here are a few articles that have caught my eye relevant to the reporting of the rebel advance. […]


August 16, 2011

US Navy “burning the boats” to join social media conversation

A speech on the US Navy’s approach to communications by Admiral Gary Roughead has surfaced in my Twitter feed. The Admiral is the US Chief of Naval Operations and he gave these remarks to a Public Relations Strategic Communications Summit in June. The general message is that the US Navy realised it could no longer […]


August 11, 2011

The role of social media in the UK riots

"The ability to communicate to groups of people easily and on a regular basis is more powerful than previous incarnations of ‘word of mouth’ technologies." Click here for more on the BBC College of Journalism website…


August 2, 2011

BBC journalist detained in Egypt

The BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil has been arrested in Egypt while reporting from Cairo. She had travelled to Tahrir Square after Egyptian security forces had moved in to clear the area of protesters. The demonstrators have been demanding swifter political change from Egypt’s military generals amid concerns that the revolution which brought down President Hosni Mubarak […]


July 19, 2011

BBC journalists reflect on the nature of war reporting

BBC World Affairs Producer Stuart Hughes recently gave a talk on war reporting to a summer school at the London School of Economics. He has uploaded his slides and videos onto YouTube. Inevitably there are a few slides which won’t mean much without the benefit of Hughes’s words overlaid but he has included several interviews […]


July 18, 2011

Fictional ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ blog disappears

The ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ blog, which was believed to have provided an authentic voice documenting the Syrian chapter of the Arab Spring, has "vanished". The author of the blog, Tom MacMaster, apparently decided to delete the contents of the blog after it reached more than a million "separate views". The blog had claimed to […]


July 13, 2011

Terror in Mumbai and the evolution of crisis communications

Several hours ago, three explosions hit the Indian city of Mumbai. At the current time (18h00 GMT), reports suggest seventeen people have been killed and 81 injured. Less than three years after the siege of 26/11, the citizens of Mumbai are facing the consequences of another terror attack. It is hardly a surprise that people […]


July 11, 2011

The iPhone for war photographers

For many journalists, the iPhone has become a standard part of the toolset. But it’s also being tested to the limit by war reporters.  A couple of interesting experiments from Afghanistan caught my eye this morning documenting ventures in the photographic potential of the iPhone.  First, this piece in The Guardian highlighting its use by Teru […]


May 17, 2011

Ministry of Defence reviewing communication strategy for a networked world

The Ministry of Defence is considering proposals that would empower more members of their staff to communicate so it can compete more effectively in a networked information environment. In particular, the MoD will decide whether to free deployed commanders from aspects of existing constraints which mean their operations are usually communicated through spokespeople. A more […]


May 2, 2011

Media coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death on Storify

I’ve been collecting some interesting articles and tweets on media coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday evening.  Rather than a usual ’round up’ style blog post, I thought I’d experiment with Storify to bring some of the strands together. I was impressed; it’s very easy to use and update. […]


March 31, 2011

Egypt’s digital revolutionaries: It’s not about the technology

The special joint event organised by the Frontline Club and the BBC Arabic Service brought together some of the key players, journalists and experts to discuss what has taken place in Egypt over the last few months. The first half of the evening at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, considered the role of technology […]


March 21, 2011

Five years since the first tweet: a Twitter revolution in breaking news

Today, Twitter is celebrating its birthday. Five years after the first tweet was published, its impact on the field of Internet communication and many others beyond has been much debated. Recent events in Tunisia and Egypt re-ignited the debate over Twitter’s role in the political process and whether the world has seen its first Twitter […]


March 10, 2011

Visualised: A day in the life of Twitter

Continuing an inadvertent theme on the blog, I’ve just come across this visualisation of a day in the life of Twitter by informatics researcher Chris McDowall: Mapping a Day in the Life of Twitter from Chris McDowall on Vimeo. It’s worth viewing in full screen, in HD, on Vimeo as you can see some of […]


March 2, 2011

China’s Twitter – inside Sina Weibo

I was reading a Foreign Policy article about the Chinese government’s "deep suspicion of social media and the Internet" which included a link to a very interesting presentation about Sina Weibo – one of several Chinese answers to Twitter.       Founded in August 2009, Sina Weibo had 80-100 million users by the end of 2010. […]


February 17, 2011

Visualising the Egyptian revolution through Twitter

"I was very lucky to get this data", André Panisson tells us. He made the serendipitous decision to perform a test run of a Python server that would collect Twitter statuses around a particular hashtag on 11 February – the day that President Mubarak announced he would step down in Egypt.   The following video documents […]


February 14, 2011

Exploring the role of Twitter and social media in revolutions

I’m afraid I haven’t been able to follow events in Tunisia and Egypt as closely as I would have liked as I was determined to enjoy an overdue holiday and a break from computer screens. And my mission was largely accomplished. As part of an attempt to catch up, I’ve just been reading Jeff Jarvis, […]