USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, May 24 - 30, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Pakistan 'Dancing' Video Sends Threatening Message
In Pakistan's remote mountain communities, the smallest spark can expose and rekindle long-raging clan disputes. That appears to be the case with the furor caused by a homemade video depicting unrelated men and women fraternizing at a wedding, a taboo taken deadly seriously in the country's religiously conservative northwest. News of the mobile phone video spread like wildfire, fueled by inaccuracies and sensationalism until it was out of control. Reports emerged that the video had resulted in a tribal death sentence against the four women and two men shown in the video.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Abubakar Siddique, 5/30/12)
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Reporter Criticizes FARC for Release as Propaganda
A French journalist freed by leftist rebels Wednesday said he had no complaints about his captivity other than its 33-day duration and lamented that Colombia's war is an "invisible conflict" where the poor kill the poor. Romeo Langlois said he was not embittered, but he criticized the rebels for using his capture for propaganda purposes. They freed him on their movement's 48th anniversary on a specially built stage, hanging pro-peace banners in this remote southern hamlet and organizing a barbecue.
See the full article (AP, Fernando Vergara, 5/30/12)
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Syria's Media Blackout
Syria has shown how easy it is to get away with mass murder, even in this new age of mass communication and social networking. Horrific videos of children slaughtered and pleas for help from an insurgent population repressed by a cruel regime have produced nothing but warnings and gesture politics from the international community. What we used to call "the CNN effect," when CNN was the leading purveyor of 24-hour international news, no longer has the same effect.
See the full article (Global Post, Tom Fenton, 5/30/12)
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Syracuse University Filmmaker Killed in Syria
Syrian filmmaker, who took a leave of absence from a fine arts degree program at Syracuse University to cover the carnage in his native country, was killed while filming in the war-ravaged city of Homs, the university's chancellor said in a statement on Tuesday. The chancellor said that the filmmaker, Bassel Al Shahade, died on Monday "while working as a citizen journalist and filming the attacks against the Syrian people by the government security forces there."
See the full article (New York Times, Michael Schwirtz, 5/30/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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How to Stop the Bleeding
I was dangerously unprepared for the environments I'd put myself into throughout my career as a journalist, and I wasn't alone. Most freelancers don't have the first clue what to do if one of us is gravely wounded. We arrive in war zones fully stocked with memory cards, extra camera bodies and battery chargers, but with no knowledge about how to save our own lives or the lives of our colleagues.
See the full article (Salon, Greg Campbell, 5/29/12)
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A Palestinian Whose Cameras are Witnesses and Casualities of Conflict
"5 Broken Cameras" provides a grim reminder - just in case you needed one - of the bitter intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A chronicle of protest and endurance, punctuated by violence and tiny glimmers of hope, this documentary is unlikely to persuade anyone with a hardened view of the issue to think again. For anyone who retains an interest in the human contours of the situation, however, the movie is necessary, if difficult, viewing.
See the full article (New York Times, A. O. Scott, 5/29/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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News Agency Removes Report on Iran's 'Physical' Involvement in Syria
The semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency has removed an interview with a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force in which he said Iran had been involved in Syria to prevent the killings of civilians. ISNA has not provided an explanation for the removal of the interview. Iranian officials have expressed support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while denying reports that Tehran has been helping Syria's crackdown against antigovernment protesters.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 5/28/12)
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At USC, Media Training for Afghan Students
Kept under wraps until now because of security concerns, the [University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts] program, entering its second year, enrolls two Afghan students annually for a crash course in the cinema school's summer program. The trainees from last summer have returned to Afghanistan, and are working in a rough-and-tumble business that still fears a Taliban resurgence but in the meantime has millions of viewers for programs.
See the full article (New York Times, Michael Cieply, 5/27/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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US Reporter Detained in Ethiopia Freed: Broadcaster
A Voice of America (VOA) reporter and a translator detained while covering a protest in the Ethiopian capital were released from jail on Saturday. Heinlein was arrested Friday while trying to interview members of Ethiopia's Muslim minority, who have been protesting alleged government interference in their affairs. Several media workers have been detained and charged in Ethiopia in recent months, including two Swedish journalists sentenced to 11 years in prison in December under the country's anti-terrorism law.
See the full article (AFP, 5/26/12)
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Threatened Pakistani Journalist Seeks Asylum in Australia
A Pakistani minority journalist being held at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in West Australia says he now feels "protected" from Islamic terrorist groups that had threatened to kill him in his home country. Amjad Hussain, 38, a print and broadcast journalist, was the only reporter from the often marginalized Hazara ethnic community working in Pakistan's mainstream media in Islamabad.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Malik Siraj Akbar, 5/25/12)
Click to read "Training Community Reporters in Pakistan to Counter Extremist Messaging," a USIP Grant Highlight.
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Press Freedom Watchdogs Demand Release of Palestinian Broadcaster
Press freedom watchdogs have called on the Israeli military to release the director of a Palestinian TV station who was detained last Thursday. Israeli soldiers arrested Baha Khairi Moussa, who runs the Palestine Prisoner Channel, a satellite broadcaster based in the West Bank. They also confiscated the station's equipment. The Palestine Prisoner Channel, which began broadcasting a month ago, features reports and interviews with Palestinian prisoners on their status and condition in Israeli jails.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 5/24/12)
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Internet and Social Media

'SNN,' YouTube Help Amplify Voices in Syria
You've heard of CNN, but unless you pay close attention to photo and video credits on news sites, you've probably never heard of the Syrian group SNN. The Shaam News Network is one of several groups that aggregates photos and videos taken by citizen journalists in Syria and tries to show them to the world. Networks like SNN have become aggregators and, in a sense, gatekeepers to the videos uploaded by citizen journalists. Syrians often will upload controversial videos to YouTube anonymously and without any information about the content.
See the full article (CNN, John D. Sutter, 5/29/12)
Click to read "Revolution to Retribution on Facebook," a USIP Olive Branch Post by Alexis Toriello and Christine Mosher.
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Pakistan to Twitter: 'Yes We Ban!'
My friend in Pakistan was unable to tweet this quote on May 20: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Yes, it was more than 140 characters, but the bigger reason was Pakistan's ban on Twitter. Why was the popular site banned? Because social media activists were tweeting to promote a Facebook page titled, "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day." That posed a challenge for the Pakistan's telecommunications regulators who view such activities as blasphemous.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Faheem Younus, 5/29/12)
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The Arab World and the Media's Symbiotic Revolutions
After decades of oppression and dictatorship, a revolutionary spirit, led primarily by the region's youth, and fueled by social media, has risen across the Middle East and North Africa, challenging the governments in power, their relations with the West, and the role of religion, women and democracy in society. Social media connected these young Arabs to like-minded individuals, across the region, and beyond, but perhaps most importantly with the media -- highlighting the limitations of parachute journalism.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, 5/29/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Women Leading Change in Transitioning Societies" on May 21 at 10:00am.
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A False Photo From a Real Massacre
We might never know who first entered the photo [of bodies being prepared for mass burial] into the social media currents, which sent it flying through Arabic- and English-language social networks (including my own Twitter account) until it landed on the BBC website's front page. Though it purportedly shows victims of Saturday's massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, sourced from the anonymous "activists" who have provided so many similar images throughout the Arab Spring, in fact it is from Iraq and nearly a decade old.
See the full article (Atlantic, Max Fisher, 5/28/12)
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Online Movement Tackles Barriers to Mideast Peace
Talking peace was only one of the activities on Thursday at a one-year anniversary event celebrating the achievements of online peace movement YaLa Young Leaders, which has used social media platforms over the past 12 months to overcome some of the barriers to peace in the Middle East. Those who actually attended the virtual conference came from everywhere in the region, including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, Iraq and even Iran, Sudan and Syria. Of course, many of the participants were Israeli and Palestinian.
See the full article (Jerusalem Post, Ruth Eglash, 5/24/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Afghan Star Documentary Trailer" - Kaboora Productions
After 30 years of war and Taliban-rule, pop culture has returned to Afghanistan. Afghan Star - a Pop Idol-style TV series - is searching the country for the next generation of music stars. Over 2000 people are auditioning and even three women have come forward to try their luck. The organizers, Tolo TV, believe with this programme they can 'move people from guns to music'.
See the full video
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