USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, July 12 - 18, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Najam Sethi, the TV Star Who Dared Take on Pakistan's Spy Agency
Almost alone among the country's army of TV pundits, Sethi regularly takes on the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), the military spy agency accused of everything from supporting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan to murdering its critics. Few other Pakistani journalists dare make such claims, or even criticise the Pakistani army's long history of interfering in the affairs of the nation.
See the full article (Guardian, Jon Boone 7/18/12)
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Egypt's Mursi Brings Home Journalist Jailed in Sudan
An Egyptian journalist jailed while covering protests in Sudan returned to Cairo on Monday aboard President Mohamed Mursi's official jet after Egypt's new head of state raised her case with his Sudanese counterpart. Adel, 25, was detained on July 3 after covering student protests in Khartoum. Sudanese officials accused her of having worked as journalist without proper accreditation and having links to activists.
See the full article (Reuters, Tom Perry and Ulf Laessing, 7/16/12)
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US 'Concerned' Over Ethiopian Journalist's Sentence
The United States said on Saturday it was "deeply concerned" by the conviction and sentencing of Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, who was jailed for 18 years on "terrorism" charges. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the Ethiopian government had used the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to jail journalists and opposition party members for peacefully exercising their freedoms of expression and association.
See the full article (AFP, 7/14/12)
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Egypt's New President Is Being Undercut by State-Run Media
Egypt's state news media, the traditionally admiring chronicler of Egypt's head of state, are at war with the new president. To be sure, state broadcasters and newspapers here still appear to celebrate President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as Egypt's first democratically elected leader. But as Mr. Morsi moved this week to challenge the generals, the state media have quickly allied with the generals, persistently undercutting the new president while still ostensibly honoring his position.
See the full article (New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh, 7/13/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Maldives Journalist Flees Island Fearing Safety
A Maldivian journalist, who narrowly survived a murder attempt last month, says Islamic extremists are pushing the country to "a very dangerous situation". Talking to BBC News after fleeing Maldives fearing for his life, Ismail Rasheed, nicknamed "Hilath", alleged that the radicals were operating with impunity under the new government in the island nation.
See the full article (BBC, Charles Haviland, 7/12/12)
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Mexico Paper Won't Cover Violence after Attack
The El Manana newspaper northern Mexico announced that it will stop covering violent criminal disputes after suffering a second grenade attack against its offices in two months. Other northern Mexican newspapers have quietly adopted similar policies of not covering drug cartel violence to protect their staffs against threats and violent attacks carried out by gangs that either don't want their activities to appear in print, or are angered by coverage of their rivals.
See the full article (AP, 7/12/12)
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Special Report: A Radio Jock Tests Freedom's Limits in New Nation
In a country where most people get their news not from the Internet, newspapers or television but from the radio, Mading Ngor is about as big as journalists get. The 29-year-old is decidedly not impartial. But his brash, crusading reports and interviews on Bakhita Radio are required listening for politicians and the public alike. As South Sudan begins to work out the role media should play in its development, the question is what to do about edgy journalists like Ngor.
See the full article (Reuters, Ulf Laessing, 7/12/12)
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Sri Lankan Journalists Protest Against State Media Suppression
Sri Lankan journalists, activists and opposition lawmakers have staged a protest against media suppression and intimidation after the editor of a newspaper received a death threat from the president's brother. Dozens of protesters gathered in the capital, Colombo, on Thursday. They denounced a recent police raid on websites critical of the government, as well as the alleged attempted abduction of a journalist, and secret police allegedly collecting journalists' personal information.
See the full article (Guardian, Helen Pidd, 7/12/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Google Illicit Networks Summit Calls for Unity Between Activists and Technology
Google has unveiled an ambitious agenda to use the internet and other technology to boost state law enforcers and civic society activists around the world. Senior executives cast the company as a global force which could team up with Interpol and other agencies to counter crime, repression and terrorism. Using the internet to simply expose criminality and human rights abuses was not enough - Google, and the rest of Silicon Valley, needed to empower the right side with technology.
See the full article (Guardian, Rory Carroll, 7/18/12)
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YouTube Launches Face-Blurring Feature to Protect Protesters
During the Arab Spring, a lot of the footage coming out of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya wasn't taken by the major news networks but rather ordinary citizens armed with cellphone cameras. The footage spread on sites like YouTube and Facebook, creating global support for the burgeoning movements. The problem is that we're not the only ones who can see the footage. Repressive governments can see it too. To that end, YouTube is launching a new face-blurring tool that will instantly blur out the faces of everyone in a video.
See the full article (TIME, Keith Wagstaff, 7/18/12)
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Study: WikiLeaked Data Can Predict Insurgent Attacks
Insurgencies are amongst the hardest conflicts to predict. Insurgents can be loosely organized, split into factions, and strike from out of nowhere. But now researchers have demonstrated that with enough data, you might actually predict where insurgent violence will strike next. The data the researchers used was purloined by WikiLeaks, which the Pentagon has tried to suppress. And the Pentagon has struggled for years to develop its own prediction tools.
See the full article (Wired, Robert Beckhusen, 7/17/12)
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E-diplomacy: Foreign Policy in 140 Characters
The diplomatic world is considered to be one of protocol and discretion, yet an increasing number of foreign policy officials and diplomats are conducting their business in the most public way possible, on Twitter. Social media acts like an early warning system of emerging social and political movements, says Fergus Hanson from the Lowy Institute in Sydney and an expert in e-diplomacy. It is also a way of reaching online opinion formers, and a means of correcting misinformation very quickly.
See the full article (BBC, Nick Bryant, 7/17/12)
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Revolutionizing Revolutions: Virtual Collective Consciousness and the Arab Spring
Think about what history will now remember as the Arab Spring. This recent wave of revolutions has yielded some successful and significant regime changes including, so far, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. One year after, established social movements' theories fall short in explaining how both the Tunisian and the Egyptian revolutions occurred. One reason is the influence of cyber-activism via social media platforms that classical approaches to collective movements do not take into account.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Yousri Marzouki and Olivier Oullier, 7/17/12)
Click to read "Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict after the Arab Spring," a USIP Peaceworks by Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Mark Lynch, John Sides, and Deen Freelon.
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Newest U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy: Trolling
Within the State Department, a Silicon Valley veteran has quietly launched an improbable new initiative to annoy, frustrate and humiliate denizens of online extremist forums. The program, called Viral Peace, seeks to occupy the virtual space that extremists fill, one thread or Twitter exchange at a time. Think of it as strategic trolling, in pursuit of geopolitical pwnage.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 7/17/12)
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Four Ways Social Media Could Transform Conflict in Africa
When Kenya invaded Somalia in October 2011, the international community paid scant attention. Apparently more newsworthy was the "Tweet-off" a couple of months later between the Kenyan Army's spokesman and a spokesman for Al Shabaab. The episode was a reminder not only of the prevalence of the internet even in the world's failed states, but, more importantly, it underscored how social media might be used as a tool in the conduct of international wars - or in the pursuit of peace.
See the full article (CNN, Gabrielle Ramaiah and Jason Warner, 7/16/12)
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In the Face of Censorship, #SudanRevolts Goes Social
Protests in the northeast African country gathered momentum on June 16 after the Sudanese police raided female dorms of the University of Khartoum. The hashtag #SudanRevolts circulated rapidly, allowing netizens to actively publicize events in real time. The official Sudanese media, meanwhile, has been stifled. [Activists] claim that these channels offer a safer way -- and are presently the only way -- for them to ensure that news of the ongoing struggle circulates.
See the full article (PBS, Eszter Farkas, 7/13/12)
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US Social Media Account in China Disappears
A widely read microblog written by the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai and known for its sometimes tongue-in-cheek comments about China's social and political issues was inaccessible Friday. Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblog site that hosts the consulate's account, said it could be a technical glitch, an explanation the company has given in the past in cases where censorship was at work.
See the full article (Reuters, Didi Tang, 7/13/12)
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Rights Groups and Activists Slam Iraq Internet Law
An Iraqi draft law that would jail web users for life for a variety of ill-defined crimes has been condemned by rights groups and activists who have slammed its vague language and hefty penalties. Little more than a year after revolutions, in part sparked by Internet-based campaigns, rocked the Middle East and ousted several dictators, Human Rights Watch has warned the bill would "constitute serious curtailments" of Iraqis' freedoms, while activists have questioned many of the bill's provisions.
See the full article (AFP, Prashant Rao, 7/12/12)
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The Mobile Technologies Making Africa Cheaper and Safer
I am an African technology entrepreneur and have operated on the continent for over 20 years. In my time, the most significant development in the space has been the emergence of the internet and the proliferation of mobile-phone use. Impressed by the efficiency with which mobile phone messaging technologies were employed during the Arab Spring and the London riots, we decided to develop an affordable mobile phone-based security system, Hei Julor, to help address this dire situation.
See the full article (BBC, Herman Chinery-Hesse, 7/12/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Peace Education in Rural Liberia" - Innovations for Poverty Action
More than five years after the end of Liberia's fourteen year civil war, underlying tensions between tribes, over land, and between youth and elders continue to pose threats to a fragile peace. The UN's Peacebuilding Commission and the Government of Liberia are working together to promote non-violent dispute resolution and inter-group reconciliation.
See the full video
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