USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, July 5 - 11, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Libyan Authorities Demand Release of Reporters
Libyan authorities on Wednesday told the captors of two journalists kidnapped while covering the election for a national assembly to release them or face the use of force. Since last year's uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, the interim government has struggled to impose its authority on a myriad of armed groups who refuse to lay down their weapons and often take the law into their own hands and detain people.
See the full article (Reuters, Ali Shuaib, 7/11/12)
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Iran Warns Media Against Reporting Impact of Sanctions
Iran has warned the media against the publication of reports concerning the impact of Western sanctions, urging it to cooperate so that "the country is not hurt," local newspapers reported on Wednesday. The media are closely watched in Iran and the authorities regularly warn against the publication of "negative" information, especially in the economic and social fields, but Hosseini's comments mark the first time a top official has used the impact of Western sanctions to justify media censorship.
See the full article (AFP, 7/11/12)
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Journalistic Death Toll in Syria Reaches 33
The death toll of journalists in Syria is mounting day by day. A total of 33 professional and citizen journalists have been killed since the start of the uprising in Syria in March last year. Around 10 citizen journalists have been killed since late May. The approximation is due to "the difficulty of verifying any information coming out of Syria. The regime has managed to impose a media blackout by posing many obstacles to visits by foreign journalists."
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 7/10/12)
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Dangerous Journalism: Where Is it Most Risky to Report?
The public may assume that reporting from a combat zone will naturally entail the risk of being caught in crossfire and might believe that the journalists in question will have weighed those risks in some sort of risk/benefit analysis. While undoubtedly this sort of risk analysis does take place in the mind of the overseas war reporter, theirs is not the only news beat that requires some level of risk calculation.
See the full article (National Geographic, Brian Clark Howard, 7/9/12)
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Why Do the Sudanese Protests Get so Little News Coverage?
If you have been following the #SudanRevolts hash tag on Twitter and/or read news sources such as Al Jazeera and DAWNS, the story of popular revolts against austerity measures in Sudan would not be new to you. If you happen to be the majority of people, you likely do not know much more about Sudan than Darfur and maybe heard something in regards to conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. The latter group can be excused because most reporting has ignored Sudan.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Tom Murphy, 7/9/12)
Click to read "USIP'S Specialists on South Sudan," a USIP On the Issues.
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Afghanistan Funding: Local Media Already Feeling the Pinch
Though a substantial commitment, $4 billion a year in aid represents a drop in the level of assistance Afghanistan has become used to since the US-led invasion in 2001. News agencies have been forced to make cuts, cancel programming, and reduce coverage as the tide of international funding recedes. The agencies that remain unaffected are predominantly those backed by political groups, often ethnically based, which predictably produce news with an agenda and protect party elites from scrutiny.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Tom A. Peter, 7/8/12)
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The View from Inside Syria's Propaganda Machine
Many journalists who cover Syria struggle to convey the complexities of the country's conflict. But Syria's prominent Ikhbariya TV news network has no such problem. It portrays a reasonably straightforward world: a brave Syrian government leads the fight against foreign-led terrorists. Ikhbariya is privately owned, but it obeys the instructions of the ruling Baath Party. Every day it broadcasts the same message - the Syrian people are united in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
See the full article (BBC, James Reynolds, 7/5/12)
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Tunisia Media Commission Resigns over Press Freedom
The Tunisian commission tasked with reforming the country's media has resigned, citing government censorship. The body was created to draft new media laws after the fall of the former regime in 2011. But the new democratically-elected Islamist government has been accused of returning to old, repressive ways. Some Tunisian artists, journalists and liberals have complained that although the country is now more democratic, it is also more culturally and socially conservative.
See the full article (BBC, 7/5/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Russian Wikipedia Shuts Down to Protest Internet Bill
The Russian-language Wikipedia website shut down Tuesday and symbolically blacked out its logo in protest at a bill that would allow the state to block access to blacklisted websites. Amendments to an existing information law call for the creation of a federal register that would rule on websites carrying banned information, and oblige site owners and providers to close down the offending sites.
See the full article (AFP, Anna Malpas, 7/10/12)
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Eric Schmidt: The Great Firewall of China Will Fall
[Eric] Schmidt roams the planet speaking to audiences and exploring countries where Google could expand its operations. He has been called Google's "Ambassador to the World," a moniker he doesn't promote but doesn't dispute. When the Chinese Internet censorship regime fails, the penetration of information throughout China will also cause political and social liberalization that will fundamentally change the nature of the Chinese government's relationship to its citizenry, Schmidt believes.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin, 7/9/12)
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Sri Lanka Plans to Amend Press Law to Include Websites
Sri Lanka will amend a decades-old media law in order to bring in all news websites and electronic media under regulation, the government said on Monday, a week after it raided and temporarily closed down two anti-government websites. Sri Lanka ended a nearly three-decade civil war with Tamil separatists in 2009 that saw censorship and restrictions on reporting, including banning the rebels' main website in 2008. But since the war's end, the government has not eased press freedom.
See the full article (Reuters, 7/9/12)
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Bahrain Activist Jailed for Tweet Against Prime Minister
Bahrain's government may have avoided the fate of Egypt, Libya, or even Syria, but it can't be feeling all that secure if it's jailing people for tweeting and detaining small children. Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to jail for three months on Monday for posting a tweet that criticized Bahrain's Prime Minister Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Katie Cella, 7/9/12)
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Iran Arresting Internet Activists for Expertise
Mohammad Soleimani Nia, a social-media expert and Internet pioneer in Iran, has apparently been rearrested several weeks after being released on bail. Before his arrest he had been interrogated by security officials, apparently about a number of issues including his work and his Internet activities including the social-networking site u24 he had launched for Iranian professionals.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 7/9/12)
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Al-Jazeera Show's Twitter Account Hacked by Supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad
Hackers hijacked the Twitter account of "The Stream," a program aimed at tapping into online audiences. The account featured links to pro-Assad material Thursday. One message claimed the stunt in the name of the Syrian Electronic Army, a group which has carried out a string of Web attacks against targets it sees as sympathetic to Syria's rebels.
See the full article (AP, 7/5/12)
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Social Media Lessons From a Revolution
Wael Ghonim was the administrator and creative director of the 'Kullena Khaled Said' Facebook Page, easily the largest opposition social media page during the uprising. Now it's true that most of us aren't trying to topple a repressive regime, but we should manage our social networks with all the energy of a high stakes, historic cause. Here are a handful of takeaways other digital marketers can learn from his work.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Ryan J. Davis, 7/5/12)
Click to read "Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict after the Arab Spring," a USIP Peaceworks by Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, John Sides, and Deen Freelon.
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WikiLeaks in the Process of Publishing Material from 2.4 Million Syrian E-mails
The secret-spilling group WikiLeaks said Thursday it was in the process of publishing material from 2.4 million Syrian emails - many of which it said came from official government accounts. WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison said the WikiLeaks emails dated from August 2006 to March 2012 and originated from hundreds of different domains, including Syria's ministry of presidential affairs.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Raphael Satter, 7/5/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Natural Resources for Peacebuilding" - TEDxOrangeCoast
Richard Matthew has worked closely with the United Nations to integrate natural resource management and climate change adaptation into peacebuilding efforts, participating in various field assessments and directing one in Sierra Leone.
See the full video
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