News Roundup Archive

Thursday, May 24, 2012

USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, May 17 - 23, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Magazine Wins Rare Court Ruling for Media in Myanmar, Can Keep Reporter's Name Secret
A private news magazine in Myanmar won a rare court victory Wednesday and will not have to reveal the name of a reporter who wrote about corruption at government ministries. Lawsuits involving the media are a new development in Myanmar and part of an easing of censorship under the reform-minded government that took office last year. Under the previous military regime, strict media censorship determined what was fit to print and violators faced severe penalties. Despite the new freedoms, publications still follow their old policy of writing anonymously on sensitive subjects.
See the full article (AP, 5/23/12)
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In the Philippines, a Brash Brand of Journalism Can Be Fatal
Two and a half years to the day since the world's worst-ever single mass killing of journalists took place in the southern Philippines, many suspects remain at large, the trial is stalled, and victim's families are being harassed and intimidated. With midterm elections coming next year, journalists in the Southeast Asian island nation would do well to raise their guard. Since 1986, 125 journalists have been murdered for work-related reasons.
See the full article (PBS, 5/23/12)
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Pakistani Journalist Abducted and Killed
The body of Pakistani journalist Razzaq Gul, a reporter with the Express News in southern Balochistan, was found the day after he was abducted. He had 15 bullet wounds and there were signs of torture. The murder was condemned by [the] secretary general of Pakistan Press International: "While the level of violence and intimidation of journalists has reached alarming levels all over the country, the situation of journalists in the province of Balochistan has reached a point where it has becoming virtually impossible to report independently."
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 5/22/12)
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The Syrian Local Newspapers Creating a Voice for the Revolution
The army and security forces have checkpoints outside the city [of Zabadani], but the space inside the town allowed activism to flourish. Among other things, that took the form of a local newspaper. The Zabadani team of seven, five women and two men, none of whom are professional journalists, have been putting together their 12-page magazine every week, with the aim of informing locals and trying to keep people from picking up arms.
See the full article (Guardian, 5/22/12)
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Released Journalist Denounces Turkish Repression
Ahmet Sik, a Turkish journalist and author recently released from prison, says he is working with his lawyers to prepare for June 18, his next day in court, as he fights accusations that he was part of a plot known as Ergenekon, aimed at toppling the governing Justice and Development Party. Mr. Sik said Monday that whether he was convicted or exonerated, it would not change the oppression of the media in Turkey.
See the full article (International Herald Tribune, Latifah Al-Hazza, 5/21/12)
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For an Ethiopia in Transition, Guarded Hope for Freer Journalism
Changing almost at the speed of its marathon runners, modern Ethiopia is a far cry from what it used to be. The government's new Growth and Transformation Plan proposes the development of mass media and changes in the practice of journalism. Some of those are already happening at the Ethiopian News Agency, the most important news agency in the country.
See the full article (New York Times, Benno Muchler, 5/20/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Pakistanis Resist Creeping Media Vigilantism
Most Pakistanis dislike the police, blaming them for being corrupt and aggressive -- but now the media is earning a similar reputation for its frequent attacks on people's privacy. Pakistan's ever-growing freewheeling private television stations have given birth to "vigilante journalism" aimed at exposing people -- often ordinary members of the public -- they say are breaching social morals.
See the full article (AFP, Hasan Mansoor, 5/20/12)
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Reporting on Taboo Topics in Liberia
When Liberian journalist Mae Azango wrote an article about the taboo topic of female genital mutilation, she and her nine year-old daughter became the targets of multiple threats. [On the Media] talks to Mae about her reporting that forced the Liberian government to finally take a public position on the practice.
See the full article (NPR, 5/18/12)
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Mexican Crime Reporter Kidnapped and Murdered
Police officers located the body of [Marco Antonio] Avila on the side of a rural road the day after he was kidnapped by a group of gunmen at a car wash in the nearby town of Ciudad Obregon. Avila covered police and crime issues for the local paper Diario de Sonora and had reported on drug-related violence. The murder follows the killing of three journalists in the eastern state of Veracruz over the past month.
See the full article (Reuters, 5/18/12)
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Sonnets for the Mujahideen
Poetry of the Taliban is the first-ever English-language collection of verse from the Afghan militant group. Despite the group's austere interpretation of Islam, which extends to a complete ban on instrumental music, recordings of poetry recitations are frequently traded between fighters on CDs and MP3s and often serve as soundtracks for the movement's propaganda videos. Shakespearean love sonnets they are not. But those expecting doctrinaire propaganda might be surprised by the range of the verse in the book.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, 5/18/12)
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When Freedom of the Press is Not a Priority
Leaders in Ethiopia and Rwanda were once hailed as political reformers. But according to Mohamed Keita, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Western priorities have led African democracies to narrow their free speech commitments. [On the Media] speaks to Brooke about the frightening consequences when press freedoms drop off the agenda.
See the full article (NPR, 5/18/12)
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Internet and Social Media

"Citizen Journalism" Focuses on Israeli Occupation
Amateur video of Israeli soldiers appearing to watch idly as settlers opened fire on Palestinians throwing stones has emphasized the growing power of "citizen journalism" in the occupied West Bank. B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, provided the cameras used to document the event, as part of a program started in 2007 whereby it has distributed around 150 camcorders to "citizen journalists" throughout the West Bank. The group aims to use social media to bring alleged violations by settlers and the military into public view.
See the full article (Reuters, Noah Browning, 5/23/12)
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U.S. Hacks Web Sites of al-Qaeda Affiliate in Yemen
State Department cyber experts recently hacked into Web sites being used by al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and substituted the group's anti-American rhetoric with information about civilians killed in terrorist strikes, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday. The revelation provided an unusual window into low-level cyberwarfare activities that the government rarely discusses.
See the full article (Washington Post, Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima, 5/23/12)
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What a 12-hour Twitter Ban Says About Pakistan's Fractured Society
Last Sunday, after Pakistan's government briefly blocked access to Twitter, the outcry in the country was instantaneous. Ironically, most of this outrage was expressed on Twitter itself. Users in Pakistan promptly discovered alternate means of accessing the micro-blogging site, created the hashtag #TwitterBan, and angrily tweeted away. Many faulted the government for once again trampling on social media freedoms. A major theme running through the critical tweets was solidarity: Pakistanis were forming a unified front to contest the unjust ban.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Michael Kugelman, 5/23/12)
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Governments Pose Greatest Threat to Internet, Says Google's Eric Schmidt
Nations that carry out cybercrimes and wreak online havoc pose the greatest threat to the future of the internet, the chairman of Google has warned. In a speech delivered at London's Science Museum on Wednesday, Eric Schmidt said the internet would be vulnerable for at least 10 years, and that every node of the public web needed upgrading to protect against crime. Fixing the problem was a "huge task" as the internet was built "without criminals in mind" he said.
See the full article (Guardian, Ian Sample, 5/23/12)
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Iranian Establishment Makes New Social Media Foray with Imam Site is Iran's latest foray into the social media sphere, the domain of young, middle-class Iranians that's often reserved for poking fun at state policies and religious rulings. The new social-networking site is devoted to Imam Naghi, a Shi'ite saint. But critics, including many ordinary Iranians, say the site will likely join the list of previous, largely unsuccessful attempts by the establishment to make use of social networking.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 5/23/12)
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Seeds of the Future
At the very least, the advent of electronic and social media has vastly improved the ability of individuals to act as a catalyst for change in the Arab world, stimulating and galvanising people to think and act more freely, even if they disagree with his views. Earlier this month at the Oslo Freedom Forum - an ever-more important gathering for those who defy tyranny - the stars of the show were young Middle Eastern cyber-activists like him: some relishing the half-completed democratic change which they helped to bring about, others still labouring under regimes that wish they would disintegrate.
See the full article (Economist, 5/22/12)
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Pakistan Blocks, then Restores, Twitter Access
Pakistan's telecommunications regulators shut down Twitter for about eight hours Sunday because the social networking site would not remove content that the government found objectionable to Muslims, but the nation's prime minister stepped in to reverse the ban, officials said. Such Internet censorship, though not unheard of in this majority-Muslim nation, surprised some Pakistani officials, lawmakers and politicians who regularly use Twitter. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, for instance, initially insisted that Twitter would not be blocked, but he later realized it was.
See the full article (Washington Post, Richard Leiby, 5/20/12)
Click to read "Fixing Pakistan's Civil-Military Imbalance: A Dangerous Temptation," a USIP Peace Brief by Moeed Yusuf.
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Facebook's Amazing Growth in the Developing World
Facebook's much-studied rise in the Arab world has been called a product of the growing Arab middle class, an indication of the youth bulge of Arab 20-somethings, a reaction against the authoritarian regimes that have pushed public discourse off of the street and onto social media, and a sign of the increasing connectivity among communities that were long fractured by oppression and war. All of these factors, it so happens, have also been attributed to the rise of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements.
See the full article (Atlantic, Max Fisher, 5/18/12)
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TEDx Stages Mogadishu Conference to Celebrate City's 'Rebirth'
TED, the California-cool brand of inspirational speakers with "ideas worth spreading", [has] reached its final frontier: war-torn Somalia. Broadcast live on the web, with updates on Facebook and Twitter, the low-budget event aimed to change negative perceptions of Mogadishu around the world, particularly among Somalis driven into exile. There was an enthusiastic response on Twitter, with many users praising the initiative as a positive step for the beleaguered country.
See the full article (Guardian, David Smith, 5/17/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Access to Justice for Women in Ethiopia" - The World Bank
For poor women in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, access to justice is hampered by a number of factors. The Access to Justice initiative has surveyed households and court users to determine these barriers and how they can be overcome.
See the full video
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