USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 19 - 25, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Jolie Earns Serbian Scorn For War Film
She's known internationally as one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses. But Angelina Jolie has been going by a few other titles lately in the Balkan country of Serbia, where prominent media outlets have taken to describing her as an American propagandist. The nationalistic furor stems from Jolie's recent debut as a screenwriter and director with "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a fictionalized account of the Bosnian war.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 1/25/11)
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In Tiny Ecuador, a Populist President Restrains the Press
Reporters are frequently assassinated in Mexico, and a populist government in Venezuela has driven some journalists into exile. But press freedom advocates say that no other country in Latin America is moving so fast and on so many fronts to restrain the media as tiny, banana-producing Ecuador. President Rafael Correa, an American-educated leftist economist, has filed a defamation lawsuit that might put the three directors of the country's largest newspaper in jail and shutter their 90-year-old paper.
See the full article (Washington Post, Juan Forero, 1/24/11)
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Another Iranian Journalist Jailed
Reformist Iranian journalist and former student activist Saeed Razavi Faqih has been reportedly arrested upon returning to Tehran from Paris where he was residing. It comes amid a new wave of crackdown on journalists, bloggers, and activists ahead of the March parliamentary elections.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 1/24/11)
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BBC Demands Apology From Syrian TV Stations
The BBC's foreign editor, Jon Williams, has demanded that two Syrian TV stations apologise for their attacks on the corporation's integrity. In a tweet earlier today, he claimed that the stations, Al Dunya and Al Ikhbaria, had falsely accused the BBC of inciting sectarianism and fabricating stories. "[The] Damascus authorities must allow our staff to do their job without them being intimidated."
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 1/23/12)
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At Least 34 Chinese Reporters Jailed in 2011: Human Rights Watch
At least 34 Chinese journalists were jailed last year for charges ranging from "inciting subversion" to "revealing state secrets", a rights group said today, as Beijing tightened media restrictions. The report comes a day after an international journalists' association said China had tightened restrictions on the media in 2011 in response to domestic calls for greater openness and popular uprisings in the Middle East.
See the full article (Times of India, 1/22/12)
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Iraq Becoming 'Police State', Says Rights Group
Iraq is falling back into authoritarianism and headed towards becoming a police state, despite US claims that it has helped establish democracy in the country, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday. It noted that Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, that women's rights remain poor and civilians have paid a heavy toll in bomb attacks.
See the full article (AFP, 1/22/12)
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Iran's Press TV Loses UK Licence
Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster's English-language outlet, has been forced off the air in the UK after Ofcom revoked its licence for breaching the Communications Act. Ofcom found that Press TV's practice of running its editorial oversight from Tehran, Iran's capital, is in breach of broadcasting licence rules in the UK.
See the full article (Guardian, Mark Sweney, 1/20/12)
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How Journalists Can Help Design for Peace
Journalists are schooled in investigating and reporting events objectively and when it comes to conflicts, they report on the progress of wars, gang violence, white color crime and what might have caused these to occur. For opinions, one would usually check the editorial page. The team at the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab challenges this notion. What if journalists, in combination with their current jobs, could also promote peace and find ways to facilitate peace by soliciting creative ideas on social media platforms?
See the full article (Huffington Post, Soren Petersen, 1/19/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen: Tunisians Are The Heroes of My Lifetime
When anti-regime protests were at their height in Iran in 2009, Cohen became famous for convincing Twitter to postpone their routine maintenance and to keep the site online during this critical moment. At the time, Cohen was serving on the Department of State's Policy Planning staff, and was recognized by the Department of State for being an advocate of utilizing digital tools for facilitating global diplomacy. Now at Google Ideas, Cohen has a much freer rein to explore methods of using digital technology that can help solve larger global challenges.
See the full article (Tunisia Live, Kouichi Shirayanagi, 1/25/11)
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#january25 One Year Later: Social Media & Politics 3.0
One year ago, a revolution began in Egypt that still reverberates there -- as well as among other repressive rulers and regimes in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and beyond, including thousands of miles away in New York City, where "Occupy Wall Street" protests in turn took root and then flowered into literally hundreds of similar protests all around the nation and the world. What, if anything, did it all have to do with the rise of social media?
See the full article (Huffington Post, Rory O'Connor, 1/25/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Day After: President Saakashvili on Post-Revolutionary Societies and What Comes after the Arab Spring" on February 1 at 11:00am.
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WikiLeaks' Assange Defends 'News Of The World' Hacking And Paying For Sources
Apart from its anonymous submission system, little is known about how WikiLeaks obtains its "private information." There have been unsubstantiated accusations made about how it has scraped peer-to-peer networks, but the organization has always adamantly said that it doesn't hack. If you accept that WikiLeaks isn't obtaining its information by hacking and accept that it's the "first stateless news organization," there are plenty of ethical questions about how such organizations use intermediaries and their relationships with their sources.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Luke Allnutt, 1/25/12)
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"Virtual" Mideast Peace Conference on Facebook
After three years of deadlock in the Middle East peace process, young activists are hoping that a "virtual" peace could lead to the real thing. Thousands of Israeli and Arab youth from across the region are holding an online peace conference on Monday and Tuesday - on Facebook. The conference is hosted by the Yala Young Leaders, a group that seeks to promote dialogue among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.
See the full article (CBS, Robert Berger, 1/23/12)
Click to read "Engaging a World in Transition," a USIP On the Issues by Tara Sonenshine.
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Is the Middle East on the Verge of Cyber War?
A hacker claiming to be from Saudi Arabia has paralysed the websites of the Israeli stock exchange and the national carrier. In response an Israeli hacker stole 85,000 Facebook logins from Arab users as well as thousands of credit card details of residents of the Gulf region. But are these hackers acting on their own initiative? And is the web the new battlefield between Israel and the Arabs?
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 1/21/12)
Click to read "Science, Technology and Peacebuilding at USIP," a USIP On the Issues by Sheldon Himelfarb and Andrew Robertson.
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Does Social Media Help or Hurt Terrorism?
The recent headlines were enough to concern even the most cynical reader. "Terrorist groups recruiting through social media," blared the headline at the CBC's website. "That is not a well-founded fear," counters Dr. William McCants, a Middle East and terror researcher at the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA). McCants readily admits that terror groups are trying to use the web for propaganda purposes. The problem, he says, is that they're just not reaching their target audience.
See the full article (Voice of America, Doug Bernard, 1/21/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Searching for a Path" - Community Supported Film
This excerpt from "Searching for a Path" by Reza Sahel from Michael Sheridan shows fruit selling in Afghanistan. In the summer, the fruit rots too quickly in the 105 degree heat. It's not a profitable living, but in Afghanistan with 40% unemployment, the choices are slim. Will these vendors' children still be facing the same limited opportunities when they seek employment?
See the full video
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