USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace



Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 12 - 18, 2013

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Journalist Killings, Jailings And Kidnappings Are Huge World Problems
Two new press freedom reports released Wednesday paint a grim picture of the dangers journalists face around the world. Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists both unveiled their annual studies of how many journalists had been killed and jailed in 2013, respectively. While the reports say that both numbers are down slightly since 2012, they are sobering nonetheless. RWB estimated that 71 journalists were killed across the globe in 2013. That's down 20 percent from 2012, but RWB called it "very high." Syria, India and the Philippines were the deadliest countries.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Jack Mirkinson, 12/18/13)
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Kenya Media: President Kenyatta Signs 'Draconian' Bill
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a media bill which journalist groups have condemned as "draconian" and an attack on democracy. Last month, he rejected an earlier version of the bill as unconstitutional. Parliament then approved a new bill, which the president has signed. Despite the changes, it still sets up a quasi-government body with the power to impose fines which could cripple some media groups.
See the full article (BBC, 12/17/13)
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China and Russia Aren't the Only Major Countries Repressing Journalism
The policies of the Chinese and Russian governments, reflecting the deeply ingrained, ideological, and political character of those states, represent a tradition of media suppression. But it is astounding to read the extent to which reporters in Washington are being denied access to officials who run serious risks for talking to them. The notion that actions in the United States could bear any comparison to China and Russia seems inconceivable. Yet the opening paragraph of a report this fall for the Committee to Protect Journalists by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, was devastating by American standards.
See the full article (The Atlantic, Peter Osnos, 12/17/13)
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Brown Moses to Launch Site for Open Investigative Journalism
The Syrian conflict blogger and munitions investigator Eliot Higgins, better known as Brown Moses, is set to launch a new website as a platform and resource for open, investigative journalism in early 2014. The as-yet-unnamed site will act as a hub for bloggers like Higgins to publish their work and background on how they approached the stories. As well as investigations based on open information – like user-generated content (UGC), public data and web tools – Higgins and other writers will explain the process of analysing and verifying such information, internet security techniques and how-to guides on the area.
See the full article (, Alastair Reid, 12/17/13)
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Freedom of the Press Foundation Steps Up Encryption Efforts for Journalists
With the NSA constantly popping up in headlines this year, it’s important to look into how to protect journalists who need to communicate with confidential sources. The Freedom of the Press Foundation aims to support and defend transparency journalism in an era when it is especially scrutinized. The foundation recently announced a crowdfunded campaign to improve the development of open-source encryption tools to aid journalists in their communication with sources.
See the full article (PBS, Denise Lu, 12/16/13)
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Female TV presenter among 20 killed in Iraq
Gunmen have shot dead television presenter Nawras al-Nuaimi in northern Iraq, as attacks across the country left 20 people dead. Al-Mosuliyah TV and police said that Nuaimi was murdered as she was walking near her home in Mosul, 400 kilometres northwest of Baghdad on Sunday night. The presenter's death takes the number of journalists killed in Iraq since October to six, and she is the fifth journalist killed in the northern city during the same period.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 12/15/13)
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Syrian Opposition Vows to Help Prevent Journalists Being Kidnapped
Syrian rebel leaders said they would do all they could to protect journalists but were hampered by infighting, after international news organizations complained kidnappings were preventing full media coverage of the civil war. In a letter over the weekend, the western-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC), which is in charge of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), said it would seek to free all journalists who have been abducted. At least 30 journalists are estimated by media organizations to be being held.
See the full article (Reuters, 12/15/13)
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Ministry Urges Press Council to Take Action Against Journal
Burma’s Ministry of Information has urged the Interim Press Council to take action against The Sun Rays journal, claiming that the publication was responsible for “unethical” writing and “hate speech.” The journal, which was established last month, has published scathing stories attacking members of the former military regime and so-called “crony” businessmen that benefitted from their links with the junta.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Yen Snaing, 12/13/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Government Snooping And E-Surveillance Call For A Geneva Convention For Data
Today, electronic government surveillance has become a tool of modern conflicts, used, often indiscriminately, to spy on enemy combatants, foreign corporations and individuals, and domestic citizens alike, often with little restraint from domestic laws and even less regard for international ones. To address this issue, nations should come together to establish a “Geneva Convention for Data,” which would both protect the rights of citizens from unreasonable search and seizure of their information by governments and establish a digital free trade zone unencumbered by protectionist laws restricting cross-border data flows.
See the full article (Forbes, Daniel Castro, 12/18/13)
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In Ukraine, We Are Protesting to Preserve Our Dignity
Ukraine has just seen its third week of revolution. On the evening of 15 December, 200,000 protesters hit the streets despite freezing temperatures to demand political change, following the government's failure to sign an EU integration pact. Those who can't physically be on the square in Kiev are supporting us through social media. This became real fuel for our movement, as we have a kind of information blockade on what's happening; we use Twitter, Facebook and Vkontakte (the Russian-language Facebook) to spread information, videos and photos. So far, this has been the fastest and most credible way to share news about our life here, and to show that we are not afraid.
See the full article (Guardian, Kateryna Kruk, 12/17/13)
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Five Key Questions – and Answers – About Iran’s Social Media Influence
The explosion of social media services such as Twitter, which allow researchers to pull data on who is following whom and where has led to another explosion — of social science that seeks to map out social media relationships, and figure out how they influence (or are influenced by) politics, economy and society. One of the people doing interesting work in this space is John Kelly, chief data scientist at Morningside Analytics. He and his colleagues have done work in the past mapping out the online politics of Iran, and he currently is analyzing data on Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s online presence.
See the full article (Washington Post, Henry Farrell, 12/17/13)
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Dead Media Beat: North Korean Digital History Annihilation
North Korea has expanded its deletion of a few hundred online articles mentioning Jang Song Thaek, the executed uncle of Kim Jong Un, to all articles on state media up to October 2013, numbering in the tens of thousands. “It’s definitely the largest ‘management’ of its online archive North Korea has engaged in since it went online. No question,” Frank Feinstein, North Korea news analyst, told this writer.
See the full article (Wired, Bruce Sterling, 12/17/13)
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Social Media and Obj's Letter
The media, especially newspapers, online and social media are feasting on what is now referred to as famous letter sent to President Goodluck Jonathan by erstwhile former president now elder statesman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The ex-president wrote an 18-page letter to President Goodluck Jonathan accusing him of failing Nigerians in his position as the President of the country. The thought-provoking and insightful letter, amongst other things accused the president of nepotism, lying about his second term ambition and condoning corruption.
See the full article (AllAfrica, 12/16/13)
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Syria’s Rebels Fight With Weapons and Words
The Syrian civil war is being fought not just on the country’s streets, where any square block can become a battlefield, but also on websites and social networks where the opposing sides are waging a war of words. And while Western nations have refused to put boots on the ground, and been extremely reluctant to provide assistance to the rebels, Western technology is playing a vital role in helping Syrian fighters and activists on the ground share news and intelligence inside the country and abroad. The technology has also been used -- by both sides in the war -- as a modern means of disseminating old-fashioned propaganda. The message, often in the form of video, can be manipulated to elicit support from foreign, sympathetic viewers.
See the full article (CBS News, Zack Whittaker, 12/13/13)
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Venezuela Service Providers Forced to Police Internet
The concept of network neutrality holds that all Internet traffic should be treated equal and that Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, should serve as free-flowing gateways for information rather than as filters. But in politically polarized Venezuela, neutrality is an increasingly rare commodity and now ISPs are feeling the heat. The socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro is forcing ISPs to act as Internet policemen. Through currency controls, the Maduro administration is also restricting their access to dollars, which ISPs require to upgrade services and keep abreast of technological changes. ISPs are not even allowed to raise their monthly fees to keep up with galloping inflation.
See the full article (Huffington Post, John Otis, 12/13/13)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"The Riddle: Anti-homophobia Message" - United Nations
76 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere continue to suffer violent attacks and discriminatory treatment. In this simple, high-impact video from the UN human rights office, individuals from diverse backgrounds pose questions directly to the viewer designed to expose the nature of human rights violations suffered by LGBT people around the world.
See the full video
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There will be no News Roundup distributed over the next two weeks. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the PeaceTech Initiative!



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