USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, July 21 - 27, 2011

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Prominent Kazakh Journalist's Website Attacked, Blocked
A prominent Kazakh journalist says her online news portal,, has been blocked since it suffered a massive hacker attack. Gulzhan Ergalieva, the website's founder and owner, told journalists in Almaty on July 21 that her website has been under attack since July 15. She said the attack was likely connected to the content on the website.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 7/22/11)
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Azerbaijan Offers Journalists Free Apartments
The Azerbaijan government will start providing free housing specifically for journalists in the capital Baku. Critics, including human rights activists, see it as another tactic to tighten state control of the media. They say it is a bribe, threatening press freedom and making it harder for journalists to defy the authorities.
See the full article (BBC, Damien McGuinness, 7/22/11)
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Local Journalist Battles Plight of Afghan Women
In some countries, the written word brings more than just readers to those bold enough to publish. Local journalists who attach their names to scrutinizing articles in Afghanistan are often subject to threats of kidnapping, acid attacks and death -- especially if the writer is a woman.
See the full article (CNN, David Ariosto, 7/22/11)
Click to read "Afghan Civil Society and a Comprehensive Peace Process" a USIP Peace Brief by Lisa Schirch. [Return to top]

Georgia Frees 4 Photographers Held as Spies for Russia
Four Georgian photographers accused of spying for Russia were released from custody on Friday as part of a plea bargain agreement, hastily resolving a case that had drawn angry criticism from fellow journalists and media watchdog groups. The four photographers - who included President Mikheil Saakashvili's personal photographer - were found guilty and received conditional sentences of between six months and three years.
See the full article (New York Times, Mzia Kupunia, 7/22/11)
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Al-Qaida Plans Cartoon Recruiting Film for Kids
An al-Qaida affiliate says it plans to roll out what some have called a Disney-like animated cartoon aimed at recruiting children to the terror network. Scenes from the proposed short film show young boys dressed in battle fatigues and participating in raids, killings and terror plots. It is the latest attempt by the terror organization to use multimedia to draw in potential recruits.
See the full article (AP, Paisley Dodds, 7/21/11)
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Iranian Film Actress in Custody
Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been held in a prison in a Tehran suburb for the past month on charges related to her appearance in a film, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. Vafamehr's husband, Nasser Taghvai, a prominent film director and screenwriter, told RFE/RL on July 20 that the charges against his wife are nonpolitical and related to the movie "My Tehran For Sale," in which she played the lead role.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 7/21/11)
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Internet and Social Media

Web Activism: The Great Leveller
There have been several instances in the last half decade where canny digital campaigns have created mass movements for political change. But it's only as the web has matured in recent years - in terms of penetration and access as much as functionality - that we've begun to witness an inversion of the top down model that the Obama campaign represents in which incumbent wealth, status or power is the main catalyst for disruption and change.
See the full article (Guardian, Robin Hough, 7/26/11)
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Social Media Show Limitations as Egypt's Elections Loom
The Egyptians who fired up their revolt against Hosni Mubarak via Facebook and Twitter are concerned about whether social media is the solution to Egypt's democratic future. Only a minority of Egypt's 80 million use the internet, partly, because of widespread illiteracy and limited availability. Thus, relying on Facebook to mobilize support could be a wrong choice in the long haul of generating votes.
See the full article (Social Times, Kenna McHugh, 7/26/11)
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Quiet Digital Revolution Under Way in North Korea
North Korea is undergoing its own digital revolution, even as it grapples with chronic shortages of food and fuel. It is still among the most isolated of nations, with cyberspace policies considered among the most restrictive in the world. Yet inside Pyongyang, there's a small but growing digital world, and a whole new vocabulary to go with it: CNC, e-libraries, IT, an operating system called Red Star and a Web portal called Naenara.
See the full article (AP, Jean H. Lee, 7/25/11)
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Cyber-Westphalia And Its Disruptors
Early pioneers tended to see the Internet as a force of nature that would forever remain outside the governance of states. When they talked of the Internet, they often retreated into a kind of folksy populism, sometimes a little prone to pomp and hyperbole. Nowadays, with states imposing their wills on the Internet more than ever before, remnants of that early optimism -- such as talking about the Internet as the eighth continent -- are still present but seem to be little more than wishful thinking.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 7/25/11)
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Amnesty International's Website Blocked in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian government has reportedly blocked access to Amnesty International's website, days after the human rights organization locked horns with the government over a draft anti-terrorism law. The law, posted online last Friday by Amnesty, would allow Saudi authorities to prosecute non-violent dissent as an act of terrorism.
See the full article (Mashable, Ben Parr, 7/25/11)
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Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.
The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of the Unabomber. In the document he posted online, Anders Behring Breivik showed that he had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam.
See the full article (New York Times, Scott Shane, 7/24/11)*NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Mobile Devices Save Lives in Emergencies
From tornadoes to terrorist attacks, when an emergency strikes, people in the affected area start posting about it on social media, especially from their mobile phones. Increasingly, emergency response officials monitor these posts to enhance their understanding of the unfolding situation -- and this information can prove very useful when deciding where to deploy response or relief efforts.
See the full article (CNN, Amy Gahran, 7/21/11)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

Alive in Egypt: Transcribing the Voices of Egypt
Alive in Egypt was started to add further functionality to the Twitter, Google and SayNow Egypt collaboration. The organization was so impressed and excited with the technology and the number of calls coming in that they decided to help bring the voice of Egyptians to even more people. They reached out to our network of translators and started a project to translate all the audio files coming out of the early 2011 political crisis.
Visit PeaceMedia
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