USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace

 

Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 6 - 12, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Journalist Held in Syria Faces Execution by Her Kidnappers
The captors of a journalist in Syria are threatening to execute her tomorrow unless their demands for a $50m ransom are met. Anhar Kochneva, a reporter with Russian and Ukrainian dual nationality, was kidnapped by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) near the city of Homs at the beginning of October. She was said to be on assignment for several Russian media outlets.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 12/12/12)
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Exile Media Crafting New Role from Inside Myanmar
Their journalists risked jail terms to report inside Myanmar under years of brutal junta rule, but once-exiled media now operate openly -- and face flak for being too cozy with the new leaders. In a dramatic change of fortunes, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), the Irrawaddy website and Mizzima News agency have all set up offices in Yangon, lured back by the reforms their journalism helped engender.
See the full article (AFP, Amelie Bottollier-Depois, 12/11/12)
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More Journalists Are Held in the World's Jails Than Ever Before
Large-scale imprisonments in Turkey, Iran, and China lifted the global tally to its highest point since 1990. Eritrea and Syria also ranked among the world's worst, each jailing numerous journalists without charge or due process and holding them in secret prisons without access to lawyers or family members. In total, 63 journalists are being held without any publicly disclosed charge. Here, country by country, are the 10 worst jailers.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 12/11/12)
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Video: The al-Jazeera Documentary that Burma's Government Publicly Condemned
An al-Jazeera English documentary on violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma's western province of Rakhine has earned a formal, public rebuke from the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 50-minute program documents the persecution of Burma's ethnic Rohingya minority, who are Muslim. Most Burmese are Buddhist. The Rohingya issue, including the minority's uncertain future, seems to be getting worse as Burma embarks on an otherwise promising agenda of reforms.
See the full article (Washington Post, Max Fisher, 12/10/12)
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Egypt Crisis: Morsi Government 'Pressuring Media'
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the former head of the Egyptian State Television network has claimed he resigned in protest against the new government's "mis-handling" of demonstrations and at its "interference in state media". Essam El Amir is one of a number of high profile state television figures to resign in protest over government pressure to broadcast pro-Muslim Brotherhood propaganda.
See the full article (BBC, 12/8/12)
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Internet and Social Media

US Diplomacy Goes Virtual with Youth Video Game
The United States expanded its e-diplomacy efforts Wednesday with the launch of a video game aimed at helping young people get a better understanding of American language and culture. The game "Trace Effects," allows players to follow a university student named Trace, from the year 2045, who has accidentally traveled back in time to the present. It explores "themes related to entrepreneurship, community activism, empowering women, science and innovation, environmental conservation, and conflict resolution."
See the full article (AFP, 12/12/12)
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What the Syrian Internet Outage Tells Us About the Ultimate Dual-use Technology
Last week, a front page story in the Washington Post began: "Syria's civil war went offline Thursday as millions of people tracking the conflict over YouTube, Facebook and other high-tech services found themselves struggling against an unnerving national shutdown of the Internet." Despite denials from the Syrian government, there is strong evidence that they were in fact responsible for this attempt at isolating the country from the global information commons.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Irving Lachow, 12/12/12)
Click to read "Syria: Human Rights, Minorities, and the Challenge of Accountability" a Congressional Testimony by USIP's Steven Heydemann.
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Facebook Shuts Down Taliban Recruiting Account
For a few brief weeks, you could see posts from the Pakistani Taliban in your Facebook feed, right next to Post articles and baby photos. But over the weekend, Facebook shut down a recruiting page for the TTP, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan - much to nobody's surprise. According to the Los Angeles Times, the TTP page was recruiting contributors for a new quarterly magazine called Ahyah-e-Khilafat, or Sign of the Caliphate.
See the full article (Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey, 12/10/12)
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North Korea: On the Net in World's Most Secretive Nation
There's a curious quirk on every official North Korean website. A piece of programming that must be included in each page's code. Its function is straightforward but important. Whenever leader Kim Jong-un is mentioned, his name is automatically displayed ever so slightly bigger than the text around it. Not by much, but just enough to make it stand out. It's just one facet of the "internet" in North Korea, a uniquely fascinating place.
See the full article (BBC, Dave Lee, 12/10/12)
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Lost in Cyberspace
According to a draft U.S. State Department document obtained by the blog Diplopundit, State employees tweeting in their official capacity may soon have to submit their tweets to a two-day review before posting them. Although the review began before the U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted controversial denunciations of the anti-Mohamed YouTube clip that sparked riots in September, friends at State tell me that Embassy Cairo's tweets gave added urgency to the effort to draft new guidelines for online behavior.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Will McCants, 12/10/12)
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Google Trends: The Moment Syria's 'Revolution' Became a 'Civil War'
Google trends tracks the frequency with which Google users enter certain search terms over time. It's an imperfect but revealing indication of how particular stories are perceived. And, based on the program's data, it looks like the world (or the cross-section that uses Google, anyway) is coming to see the 21-month conflict in Syria as more civil war than revolution or uprising.
See the full article (Washington Post, Max Fisher, 12/10/12)
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The First Social Media War Between Israel and Gaza
The most recent Israel-Palestine conflict was the first to see the introduction of widespread social media warfare. From the start, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Hamas shared clips on YouTube, and posted messages and images on Facebook and Twitter. But the social media war had many other participants. Unlike any other war in the past, the Israeli-Gaza conflict has been characterised by the mass virtual participation of ordinary people via social media.
See the full article (Guardian, Ariel Peled, 12/6/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Gidon Bromberg on the Jordan River Peace Park" - Environmental Change and Security Program
The Jordan River Peace Park will help "rehabilitate the river, create economic opportunities for communities on both sides of the river's banks" and serve "as a concrete example of peacebuilding," says Gidon Bromberg in this short expert analysis from the Environmental Change and Security program. Bromberg, co-director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, explains how the new peace park will help build peace by bringing together Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian environmentalists.
See the full video
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