USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace

Center of Innovation for Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 27 - February 2, 2011

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

Internet and Social Media in Egypt

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Egypt Condemned for Blocking Media
International press institutes have come out strongly against Egyptian authorities' suppression of the media, following the withdrawal of Al Jazeera's license to broadcast from the North African country. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned on Sunday the information ministry's move to shutdown Al Jazeera's bureau in the country.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 1/31/11)
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A Film-maker's Eye on the Middle East
Writer and director Peter Kosminsky has spent seven years making The Promise, a film about the Arab-Israeli conflict. What has he learned? "War attracts nothing so much as cliche. Perhaps the greatest is that the first casualty of war is truth. The most striking thing I'm left with is a question: how did we get from there to here?"
See the full article (Guardian, Peter Kosminsky, 1/28/11)
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Seizing a Moment, Al Jazeera Galvanizes Arab Frustration
The protests rocking the Arab world this week have one thread uniting them: Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel whose aggressive coverage has helped propel insurgent emotions from one capital to the next. Al Jazeera has been widely hailed for helping enable the revolt in Tunisia with its galvanizing early reports, even as Western-aligned political factions in Lebanon and the West Bank attacked and burned the channel's offices and vans this week, accusing it of incitement against them.
See the full article (New York Times, Robert F. Worth and David D. Kirkpatrick, 1/27/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read "On the Issues: Prospects for a Democratic Revolution in Egypt," by USIP's Daniel Brumberg.
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China Tightens Grip on Press Freedom
A leading Chinese journalist said he had been forced out of his job this week amid tightened restrictions on the media. Zhang Ping, better known as Chang Ping, is an influential editor and columnist who had worked at the Southern Media Group - one of the country's best respected news organisations - for many years.
See the full article (Guardian, Tania Branigan, 1/27/11)
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Internet and Social Media

Lieberman Bill Would Allow President to Kill the Internet
Lieberman believes the threat of cyber war justifies his cyber security bill that would, among other things, give the president the power to effectively switch off the Internet when necessary. "We need this capacity in a time of war. We need the capacity for the president to say, Internet service provider, we've got to disconnect the American Internet from all traffic coming in from another foreign country, or we've got to put a patch on this part of it," said Lieberman, while on CNN.
See the full article (NBC, Mekahlo Medina, 2/1/11)
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Syrian Facebook Group Calls for Peaceful Uprising
A group of Syrian online activists are promoting a day of anger after prayers on Friday to call for a peaceful "2011 Syrian revolution" to end what they say is corruption and tyranny. The group has been using Facebook, which is officially banned but can easily be accessed through proxies, to call for a day of anger in an echo to Egypt's week-long mass protests demanding regime-change.
See the full article (AFP, 2/1/11)
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Sudan: "Facebook Revolution" With the Help of Twitter as a Side Kick
Sudanese students chose January 30, 2011 to be the beginning of peaceful demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir. The main call asking people to take to the streets of Khartoum was made on Facebook. Was this Sudan's first "Facebook Revolution" with the help of twitter as a side kick?
See the full article (Global Voices Online, 1/31/11)
Click to read "On the Issues: Sudan's Referendum: Preliminary Results," by USIP's Jon Temin.
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Wikileaks Data Journalism: How We Handled the Data
When the Wikileaks releases exploded onto the news agenda last year, they changed many things - international diplomacy, the conduct of war and national secrecy. Perhaps lesser-realised is how they changed journalism. Wikileaks didn't invent data journalism. But it did give newsrooms a reason to adopt it.
See the full article (Guardian, Simon Rogers, 1/31/11)
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Intelligence Agencies Urged to Track Social Media Sites
Sir Gus O'Donnell told the Iraq inquiry that events in Egypt, where protests against the government are escalating, showed the value of "open source" intelligence as a barometer of opinion. The issue would be examined as part of a review of government intelligence "machinery" due by the summer, he said. But he said any information gathered must, above all, be "reliable".
See the full article (BBC, 1/28/11)
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Leaked Documents Reveal Mideast Talks' Human Side
Leaked documents from years of Mideast peace talks reveal a rarely seen human side of high-level diplomacy, showing Israeli and Palestinian negotiators joking, teasing, losing their tempers and even sympathizing with one another on thorny issues that have divided them for decades. Released on the website of Al Jazeera TV this week, the documents also disclose that the sides made significant progress on the conflict's toughest disputes.
See the full article (AP, 1/27/11)
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Obama to Take YouTube Questions on State of the Union Speech
As part of a White House offensive in support of this week's State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama will hold a YouTube interview Thursday to answer questions submitted by viewers. The interview on YouTube at 2:30 p.m. ET is part of a series of events in which top administration officials are talking directly to Americans about administration policies set out in Tuesday's address to a joint session of Congress.
See the full article (CNN, 1/27/11)
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Internet and Social Media in Egypt

Egypt Restores Internet as Turmoil Escalates
Egypt restored Internet access on Wednesday, after a one-week blackout for Web and cell phone users to try to stem civil unrest. The nation was the second ever to completely shut its citizens off of the Internet. As the turmoil accelerates, experts say, the move has failed to affect what began as a Web campaign but continued even after the government block.
See the full article (Washington Post, Cecilia Kang, 2/2/11)
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Hackers' Egypt Rescue: Get Protesters Back Online
With the Internet down across Egypt, Google and Twitter have come up with a way for Egyptians to tweet using their phones. Now a group of hackers are close to delivering software that could turn laptops into low-cost Internet routers-and help protesters organize.
See the full article (Newsweek, Daniel Lyons, 2/1/11)
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These Revolutions Are Not All Twitter
The Middle East's latest unrest has revived once again a tired debate about the power of social media. Recent headlines gush about the arrival of the "Facebook Revolution" or "Twitter Diplomacy." Critics like Evgeny Morozov respond by noting that the influence of new media has been exaggerated by a press enthralled with "techno-utopianism."
See the full article (New York Times, Andrew K. Woods, 2/1/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read "On the Issues: The Impact of Social Media in Egypt," by USIP's Sheldon Himelfarb.
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Capturing Egyptian Voices with Twitter and a Cellphone
John Scott-Railton, a doctoral student in urban planning at UCLA, decided to try Twitter for the first time last week. Moved by the rising tension in Egypt and their lack of Internet access, from his tiny, windowless office at UCLA's School of Public Affairs, Railton has been calling Egyptians on mobile phones, and then tweeting out their words in 140 characters. The Twitter account is @jan25voices.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Lori Kozlowski, 2/1/11)
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Last Internet Provider in Egypt Goes Dark
The last of Egypt's main Internet service providers, the Noor Group, has gone dark. The Noor Group had remained online even after Egypt's four main Internet providers - Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr - abruptly stopped shuttling Internet traffic into and out of the country Friday morning.
See the full article (AP, 1/31/11)
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China Censors Coverage of Egypt Protests on the Web
China appears to be trying to limit public knowledge of the unrest in Egypt. Over the weekend, Chinese Twitter-like services run by Sina, Tencent and Sohu blocked the word "Egypt" from being used in microblogging messages passed around by users. A search for "Egypt" on Sina brings up a message saying, "According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results are not shown."
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Dean Takahashi, 1/31/11)
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Egypt: CitizenTube Curates Raw Footage Sent from Cairo
CitizenTube, YouTube's news and politics arm, has curated a series of videos coming in from people in Cairo and other parts of Egypt. The raw footage shows people chanting late at night, army vehicles rolling through the streets, jet fighters flying over the city and other snapshots of protesters gathering en masse.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Lori Kozlowski, 1/31/11)
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Inside the State Department's Arab Twitter Diplomacy
The State Department has been working furiously and mostly behind the scenes to cajole and pressure Arab governments to halt their clampdowns on communications and social media. In Tunisia there seem to have been real results. In Egypt, it's too soon to tell. Ever since the State Department intervened during protests by the Iranian Green movement in June 2009, the U.S. government has been ramping up its worldwide effort to set up a network of organizations that could circumvent crackdowns on Internet and cell phone technologies by foreign governments.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin, 1/28/11)
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Does Obama's 'Net Freedom Agenda' Hurt The U.S.?
On Thursday, President Obama declared access to social networks to be a "universal" value, right alongside freedom of speech. But when those networks helped weaken Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, one of the U.S.' strongest allies in the Middle East, the Obama team demanded Mubarak turn the Egyptian Internet back on - but didn't abandon support for him, either. Maybe this "Internet Freedom Agenda" wasn't so well thought out?
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 1/28/11)
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P.J. Crowley's Twitter Diplomacy
Citizens in Egypt have been using Twitter, Facebook and other pathways of the Internet to communicate to the outside world, challenging the government of President Hosni Mubarak. While Egypt's government has to shut down Internet services, the U.S. State department is using Twitter and other social media service for statecraft and diplomacy. Phillip J. Crowley, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, is regularly tweeting diplomatic policy as the situation in the Middle East escalates.
See the full article (CBS, Dan Farber, 1/28/11)
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Egypt Shuts Down Internet, Rounds Up Opposition Leaders as Protests Start
President Barack Obama may have called for Egypt to avoid violence and to allow freedom of speech and assembly ahead of protests scheduled against President Hosni Mubarak today, but early signs are the regime is using most means at its disposal to crush a swelling and stunning wave of dissent in the Arab world's largest country. Overnight in Egypt, the government shut down the vast majority of Egypt's Internet service, only allowing a network used by the stock exchange and most banks to stay live.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Dan Murphy, 1/28/11)
Click to read "On the Issues: Egypt's Warning Signs," by USIP's Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen.
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What's New from PeaceMedia

Crisis Mapping in Egypt
Several organizations are mapping out the protests taking place in Egypt and surrounding areas. iRevolution has collected about many of them, offering a comprehensive view of the protests.
Visit PeaceMedia
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