USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 22 - 28, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Two Brazilian Journalists Murdered
Two Brazilian journalists working near the Paraguayan border were killed over the weekend. The deaths of newspaper owner Onei de Moura and radio reporter Divino Aparecido Carvalho, both in Paraná state, add to an increasingly grim toll in the country. Several media sources reported that Costa Oeste was well known for its criticism of local politicians, a characteristic that has previously been identified as a major factor in journalist killings in Brazil.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 3/28/12)
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World Press Urges Syria to Honour Peace Plan
There was unbridled enthusiasm in the Chinese press following Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's apparent acceptance of the peace plan proposed by the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan. There was also a warm welcome for it in Russia. Commentators spoke of "hope" being reignited and a growing momentum for peace. But Turkey's newspapers urged caution, with one paper believing the government is playing for time. Elsewhere, papers in Lebanon criticised Mr Assad's visit to the shattered Baba Amr district of Homs, with one painting him as a defiant Arab conqueror.
See the full article (BBC, 3/28/12)
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Amid Sri Lankan Denial, Threats Rise for Journalists
In the wake of the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists, the government has resorted to outright threats of violence against journalists who might dare to return home after taking part in the Geneva discussions. Several were labeled "traitors" on state-run television. One journalist previously denounced as a traitor was J.S. Tissainayagam, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Bob Dietz, 3/26/12)
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Russian TV Broadcast Besmirching Protesters Draws a Furious Reaction
"Anatomy of a Protest," a pseudodocumentary broadcast this month on Russia's NTV television station, had the familiar earmarks of a hatchet job against opponents of the Kremlin - a darkly insinuating voice-over, accusations of shocking treachery and blurry surveillance film acquired from law enforcement services. As opposition leaders recover from the demise of mass antigovernment protests, some are looking to television as the next political battleground.
See the full article (New York Times, Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz, 3/24/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Syrian Activists Say U.S. Journalist is No Spy
Syrian activists in the city of Homs [issued] a statement defending an American journalist accused of spying on them for the government. The journalist, Nir Rosen, recently spent four months in Syria, writing and filming for Al Jazeera. Although nothing Mr. Rosen wrote to the Syrian president's media advisers was that unusual, some supporters of the uprising took the notes about him as evidence that he had betrayed the revolution, and his colleagues.
See the full article (New York Times, Robert Mackey, 3/23/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Pakistan's Pugnacious Press
Pakistan's media may be feisty, but feisty does not necessarily mean free. In its 2011-12 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranks Pakistan 151st out of 179 nations. The country's culture of violence toward the media is the main reason for this low ranking, but state policies threaten media freedoms as well. Because the rapid and relatively recent expansion of the Pakistani press has not been accompanied by checks on its excesses, media-muzzling measures have effectively become proxies for regulation.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Michael Kugelman, 3/22/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Afghanistan Security Transition: the Role and Importance of Afghanistan's Neighbors" on April 6 at 10:00am.
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Internet and Social Media

Report: State Dept. has More Than 150 People Working on eDiplomacy
The State Department now has more than 150 employees working full time on "ediplomacy," the use of the Internet to achieve policy goals, as well as at least 900 part-time ediplomats, according to a new study. "In some areas ediplomacy is changing the way State does business. In Public Diplomacy, State now operates what is effectively a global media empire, reaching a larger direct audience than the paid circulation of the ten largest US dailies and employing an army of diplomat-journalists to feed its 600-plus platforms."
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin, 3/27/12)
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E-mails Show Syrian Regime's Efforts to Handle the Media
Thousands of recently leaked e-mails purportedly taken from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's inbox, and subsequently obtained by CNN, paint a tense relationship between the regime and the media. While the Syrian government consistently dismisses Western media as part of a conspiracy to destroy the stability of the nation of 22 million, al-Assad's inner circle, among them journalists, appear very much engrossed in media relations.
See the full article (CNN, Salma Abdelaziz, 3/25/12)
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How the Developing World is Using Cellphone Technology to Change Lives
In Nigeria, a young girl can ask questions about sex discretely through SMS and get accurate information. After the earthquake in Haiti, survivors in remote towns could receive money for food straight to their cellphone. In Senegal, election monitors sent updates on polling stations through their mobile phones, revising an online map in real time. Projects like Learning about Living in Nigeria, MercyCorps in Haiti and Senevote2012 in Senegal are just a few examples of how the rapid spread of mobile technology has changed life in the global south.
See the full article (Toronto Star, Tim Alamenciak, 3/24/12)
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Pakistan's Quiet Erosion of Internet Freedom
The government's "unilateral" decision to put up a huge website filtering and blocking system has drawn criticism from civil society and the media. The new system - if put in place - could block as many as 50 million sites at any single time. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HCRP) says that already about 13,000 sites are now inaccessible. The government's latest censorship efforts have been criticised by different sections of society. Many fear that hard-won rights such as freedom of information could be compromised.
See the full article (BBC, Haroon Rashid, 3/23/12)
Click to read "Oscar Winning Film Director Talks to USIP About Justice in Pakistan and U.S. Pakistan Relations," a USIP On the Issues by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
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China's Twitter War
Over the last week, supporters of Tibet, and the merely curious, have seen information warfare up close. On Twitter, several hundred bots flooded discussions using the hashtags #Tibet and #Freetibet with meaningless tweets and spam. This is cyber as a weapon of mass distraction. As with all hacking and activism, it is hard to say with any certainty who is behind these actions, though there is a history of apparent Chinese attacks on Tibetan targets.
See the full article (Council on Foreign Relations, Adam Segal, 3/22/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"What is the Ushahidi Platform?" - Ushahidi
Since the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya, Ushahidi has been an open-source project impacting a number of communities around the world. Anyone can contribute information by SMS text message or by uploading a video or a photo. These reports are posted in real-time to a map that others can view on-line so they can view areas where aid is needed or where unrest is occurring.
See the full video
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