USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, April 12 - 18, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Award-Winning Azerbaijani Journalist Assaulted, Hospitalized
Security personnel from Azerbaijan's SOCAR state energy company have assaulted an award-winning investigative journalist, leaving him hospitalized. Abbasov writes for the "Zerkalo" newspaper and is one of the founding members of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani authorities have often been accused of stifling media rights, a charge they have consistently rejected.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 4/18/12)
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In Journalist Murders, Brazil, Pakistan, India Fail Crucial Test
Brazil, Pakistan, and India--three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders--failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly, anti-press violence. But a debate that was scheduled for two hours raged for nearly two days, ending without the 39-state council's endorsement.
See the full article (Huffington Post, 4/16/12)
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The Arab Spring's Best Photos
Photojournalists John Moore and Peter Madiarmid -- along with Chris Hondros, who was killed last year while reporting in Libya -- were announced as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography on Monday. In naming the three Getty photographers as finalists, the Committee cited "their brave coverage of revolutionary protests known as the Arab Spring, capturing the chaos and exuberance as ordinary people glimpsed new possibilities." Here are some of their most iconic shots.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, 4/16/12)
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Africa's Free Press Problem
As Africa's economies grow, an insidious attack on press freedom is under way. Independent African journalists covering the continent's development are now frequently persecuted for critical reporting on the misuse of public finances, corruption and the activities of foreign investors. Individual liberties like press freedom have dropped off the [development] agenda, making it easier for authoritarian rulers to go after journalists more aggressively.
See the full article (New York Times, Mohamed Keita, 4/15/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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The Perils of Reporting in North Korea
This week, news organizations selected by the North Korean government were permitted to report inside the country on the launch of a supposed weather satellite by the autocratic regime. The launch, which was more about military power than meteorology, was a spectacular failure. [On the Media] speaks with B.R. Myers, who says that despite that failure, the mere presence of international media is useful to North Korean domestic propaganda.
See the full article (NPR, 4/13/12)
Click to read "What Does North Korea's Ballistic Missile Test Tell Us about the Reclusive Country?," a USIP On the Issues by John Park.
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Journalist Visiting Oregon From Pakistan Talks Of Dangers, Hopes
Pakistan is a dangerous place for journalists. Just last month, the organization Reporters Without Borders named Pakistan the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. Eleven were killed there last year. It's the second year in a row the country has been singled out by that organization. The reporter you're about to hear from knows of the dangers of reporting in that country firsthand. Shehryar Warraich is a reporter for GEO TV in Pakistan.
See the full article (NPR, 4/13/12)
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Witnesses Who Shaped War's History
Watching [the Bosnian war] close up was so searing that returning to Western Europe was often unsettling - friends could not comprehend what we journalists and others had seen. As the BBC reporter Allan Little put it this month, ruminating on the 20th anniversary of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia: "You would seek out others who'd been there." Mr. Little and scores of other journalists who covered the Bosnian war did return to Sarajevo last weekend, meeting old friends, recalling good times in the worst of times, reminiscing about absent colleagues, rejoicing in reunion.
See the full article (New York Times, Alison Smale, 4/13/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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The Gallery as Public Square: 'Almost Dawn in Libya'
The photographers behind Almost Dawn in Libya-also known as ADIL, an acronym that sounds like the Arabic word for justice-aim to use their work to help Libyans come to grips with what happened there in the past year, to turn galleries into spaces for public debate. [The photographers] plan to exhibit their photographs of the war in the Libyan cities of Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi and Zintan. "The Libyan revolution or the Arab spring, it's probably the first time where victims of a violence were able to document their own suffering."
See the full article (TIME, Lily Rothman, 4/12/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Any Given Friday
For months, the civic and social activism of these peaceful protesters have been rendered obsolete next to the physical heroics of the Free Syrian Army's (FSA) military operations against the regime's brutality. In recent days, however, that has changed. Every week, anti-Assad activists take to the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page where, every Wednesday, they vote on the name of the upcoming day of protest. With more than 444,000 "likes," the page is one of the most popular online hubs of the revolution.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Amal Hanano, 4/18/12)
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The Not-So-Great Firewall of China
China's government-controlled Xinhua News Agency now "tweets" news bulletins through Twitter-like microblogs called weibo. Chinese companies running weibo services are required by the government to censor and monitor their users, blocking politically sensitive content. Yet despite weibo's best censorship efforts, China's chattering classes have outsmarted the system, using literary allusions, code words, and innuendo to pass around juicy leaks and tidbits from the foreign media.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Rebecca MacKinnon, 4/17/12)
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In Defense of Jihadist Internet Forums
The Washington Post recently reported that two popular jihadist Internet forums went dark for extended periods. Although these forums are now back up and running, it remains unclear whether the blackout was due to technical problems, a government-led takedown or the efforts of unaffiliated vigilante groups. Regardless of the instigator, this behavior must end. Why? Because shuttering these online extremist forums hurts America's ability to crush terrorist groups in real life.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Aki Peritz, 4/16/12)
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Rumor, Lies, and Weibo: How Social Media is Changing the Nature of Truth in China
For China's new generation of tech-savvy youth, who compose the bulk of the nation's estimated 300 million Weibo users, the downfall of [party leader] Bo Xilai is the largest political crisis they have witnessed. The sudden volatility of the official versions of truth on the story has left many of them deeply confused. Some see this as a victory for Weibo, which is moderated by censors but often too free-wheeling and fast-moving for them to maintain total control, over more traditional media, which is openly run by the state.
See the full article (Atlantic, Helen Gao, 4/16/12)
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Iran Tightens Grip on Web in 'Soft War' with West
Iran calls it the "soft war" with the West: Battles to control, defend and monitor the Internet and other high-level telecommunications. The latest move came quietly when the powerful Revolutionary Guard recently launched what it claims is a hack-proof communications network for its high-level commanders. Largely overshadowed by the showdowns over Iran's nuclear program, the efforts to build a cyber-fortress have become a priority among leaders fearful of Internet espionage and virus attacks from abroad and seeking to choke off opposition outlets at home.
See the full article (AP, Ali Akbar Dereini and Brian Murphy, 4/16/12)
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Vietnamese Bloggers Deny Charges, Third in Leniency Bid
Two well-known bloggers in Vietnam accused of spreading anti-government propaganda have denied the charges, their lawyers have told the BBC, while a third has asked for leniency. A report in the Thanh Nien newspaper said that the bloggers posted 421 articles on the Independent Journalists' Club website between September 2007 and October 2010. The paper accused them of "distorting the truth, denigrating the party and state". They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
See the full article (BBC, 4/16/12)
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Internet Censorship Listed: How Does Each Country Compare?
The OpenNet Initiative is a collaboration between three groups - the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, Harvard University's Berkman Centre for Internet & Society and the SecDev Group in Ottawa - that investigates internet filtering around the world. According to the ONI data, Iran was the worst ranked, with "pervasive" filtering in the political, social and internet tools categories and "substantial" for conflict/security filtering.
See the full article (Guardian, Andrew Rininsland, 4/16/12)
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Iraq Emerges From Isolation as Telecommunications Hub
Iraq, cut off from decades of technological progress because of dictatorship, sanctions and wars, recently took a big step out of isolation and into the digital world when its telecommunications system was linked to a vast new undersea cable system serving the Gulf countries. Because of the crisis in Syria and the tensions over Iran, the possibility of routing traffic via Iraq has suddenly become more attractive to telecommunications operators.
See the full article (New York Times, Eric Pfanner, 4/15/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Nervous Kremlin Seeks to Purge Russia's Internet of 'Western' Influences
Unlike other media, the internet in Russia, has developed largely untouched by the arm of the state. The protests have prompted many to wonder: is that about to change? The view of most internet observers in Russia [is] that it's too late, and too technologically complicated, to institute a China-style firewall. Yet the government is infamous for its attention to propaganda, and for the power of its suspicious spy services, and there are signs that it is seeking to boost its ability to control the internet.
See the full article (Guardian, Miriam Elder, 4/15/12)
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Good Reads: No Cyber-utopia for Activists
That we are living in a world increasingly connected by the digital revolution is a given. But are the Internet, social media, and the expanding array of technologies that can detect signs of a famine as easily as they can help an authoritarian state track dissidents, a boon or an Orwellian bane? The answer is, of course, somewhere in the middle. But the positive side of the ledger has generally gotten a lot more attention in the press than the negative. Now, that's starting to change.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Dan Murphy, 4/13/12)
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China's Internet Users Temporarily Blocked from Foreign Websites
China's internet users have been cut off from accessing all foreign websites for around an hour in an unexplained incident that sparked speculation the country's censorship system was being tested or further tightened. The "great firewall" already blocks many sites hosted from other countries, but users in Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of China reported that they could not reach any foreign sites whatsoever on Thursday morning.
See the full article (Guardian, Tania Branigan, 4/12/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"GOOD: Opium Economics" - GOOD Magazine
Heroin makes Lou Reed feel like Jesus, and it won't leave Guns N' Roses alone, but how does it end up here in the United States? This film takes a look at the global economics of the opium trade from the poppy fields of Afghanistan to a shady street corner near you and how opium fuels conflict.
See the full video
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