USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 1 - 7, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

US Hits Syrian State Media with Sanctions
Washington slapped economic sanctions Monday on Syrian state broadcast media, saying they aid the Damascus regime in its campaign to put down a popular uprising. The sanctions target the Syrian General Organization of Radio and TV, which "has served as an arm of the Syrian regime as it mounts increasingly barbaric attacks on its own population and seeks both to mask and legitimize its violence," said Adam Szubin of the [US] Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
See the full article (AFP, 3/6/12)
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Pakistani Comic's Takedown of Afghan Musical Culture Hits False Note
Critics argue that the Pakistani media's negative role has been visible throughout Afghanistan's ongoing conflict. Apart from spinning major issues, Pakistani media have referred to dead Taliban insurgents as "Shaheed" (martyred) -- even suggesting that such references serve Pakistan's so-called strategic depth policy. Afghanistan has frequently been the butt of jokes from Pakistani comedians, too. But a well-known Pakistani actor seemingly went too far recently in ridiculing Afghans on Dunya TV.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Malali Bashir, 3/6/12)
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How the Syrian Government Hunts Journalists Covering its Atrocities
Working as a war correspondent--anywhere--requires mind-boggling dedication and nerve in the midst of conflict. Reporting from the Syrian conflict, which has turned into a bonafide civil war recently, is another matter together. The Syrian government appears to be deliberately targeting journalists. Although the worst challenge journalists face in most countries is detainment or expulsion, the stakes in Syria are much higher.
See the full article (Fast Company, 3/6/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Who Owns the Syrian Revolution?" on March 9 at 9:30am.
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Bangladesh: Journalists Under Attack
Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi were established journalists working for prominent news organizations in Bangladesh's capital city. [Their deaths] reflect the increasingly difficult circumstances in which Bangladesh's local reporters operate: last year one had a bomb thrown into his home. But in recent weeks, Dhaka has seen its foreign media representatives - not just local reporters, who have suffered a climate of initimidation for decades - besieged like never before.
See the full article (Global Post, 3/5/12)
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Somalia Journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi Shot Dead in Galkayo
Gunmen in Somalia have shot dead a journalist - the third such killing this year. Colleagues of Ali Ahmed Abdi said he was shot in the head by masked men as he walked home in the north-central town of Galkayo. Until recently he had been working for the privately owned Galkayo Radio, before joining a Somali news website. Somalia has not had a functioning central government for more than 20 years and has been riven by factional fighting. It is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work.
See the full article (BBC, 3/5/12)
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Two British Journalists Accused of Spying in Libya
Two British journalists working for Iran's Press TV in Libya are suspected of being spies. The two have been named as Nicholas Davies and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson. Faraj al-Swehli, commander of the Swehli brigade, said his men had found among the journalists' possessions official Libyan documents, equipment used by the Israeli military and footage of them firing weapons. [But] much of the evidence unveiled on Sunday could apply to many of the foreign journalists who covered Libya's chaotic conflict.
See the full article (Reuters, Christian Lowe, 3/4/12)
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Pakistan Proposes Curbs on Raucous Media
Newly proposed rules to ban TV programming deemed "against the national interest" spring from an unlikely source: a civilian government that has prided itself on inching the country toward democracy over the past four years. The proposals were issued last month by a media regulatory body that says it is responding to public complaints about an explosion of increasingly shrill, fact-twisting and privacy-invading cable news shows. But the draft measures also take pointed aim at coverage that criticizes "the organs of the state" or undermines Pakistan's "solidarity as an independent and sovereign country."
See the full article (Washington Post, Richard Leiby, 3/3/12)
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Bearing Witness in Syria: A Correspondent's Last Days
It was damp and cold as Anthony Shadid and I crossed in darkness over the barbed-wire fence that separated Turkey from Syria last month. We were also crossing from peace into war, into the bloodiest conflict of the Arab Spring. Anthony, who passionately documented the eruptions in the Arab world from Iraq to Libya for The New York Times, felt it was essential that journalists get into Syria, where about 7,000 people have been killed, largely out of the world's view. We had spent months planning to stay safe.
See the full article (New York Times, Tyler Hicks, 3/3/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Getting Out the Vote in Iran
This week Iranians returned to the polls for the first time since 2009's presidential election, and opposition groups and reformers have called for a boycott of the elections. The government wants high voter turnout to show that the regime is still strong, and so they've attempted to clamp down on the media in order to get their version of the story out. [On the Media] talks to Muhammad Sahimi of Tehran Bureau about the regime's efforts at message control.
See the full article (NPR, 3/2/12)
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Dying for the Story: Citizen Journalism and the Arab Spring
Much has been written about the tragic deaths of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, French photographer Remi Ochlik and other reporters who have died since the Arab uprisings began. But what about the citizen journalists who have been killed before and since Colvin and Ochlik? In this podcast technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to Frank Smyth, part-time senior advisor for journalist security for the Committee to Protect Journalists, about the dangers and the risks being taken by citizen journalists.
See the full article (, Sarah Marshall, 3/2/12)
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For Burma's Exiled Journalists, the Promise of Reform Brings Peril and Possibility
When a nominally civilian government came to power last year, few had faith that reform was on the way. Since then, President Thein Sein has taken real steps: freeing political prisoners, signing peace agreements with ethnic rebels and loosening the state's grip on the press. In some ways, these are good days for Burma's exiled journalists. Based in Chiang Mai, a sleepy city of ancient Buddhist temples in northern Thailand, the [newsmagazine] Irrawaddy saw its Burmese-language website get a record 222,270 unique visitors in January, up nearly 40% year on year.
See the full article (TIME, Joe Jackson, 3/2/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Uganda's Rebel Leader Becomes Unlikely Trend on Twitter
An online campaign to defeat one of Central Africa's most notorious and elusive rebel groups has gone viral. Messages tagged #StopKony2012 and #MakeKonyFamous were listed among the top trending topics worldwide. Twitter users around the world have inundated the site with calls to stop the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony. The U.S.-based group Invisible Children, which is solely focused on bringing an end to the Lord's Resistance Army, started the online campaign to bring attention to a new film on the subject called "Kony 2012."
See the full article (Voice of America, Gabe Joselow, 3/7/12)
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Israel's Peres Looks to Facebook in Search of Peace
Israeli President Shimon Peres spent Tuesday morning promoting the potential of social media to foster world peace at Facebook headquarters. In his welcoming post on his Facebook page, created using CEO Mark Zuckerberg's computer, Peres invited residents of Iran, Libya, Syria and Egypt to "join me and promote peace between the people." The page also features an MTV-style techno-music video of Peres calling for Facebook fans to "be my friend, share peace" and "speak up and save the world."
See the full article (San Francisco Chronicle, Benny Evangelista and Kevin Fagan, 3/7/12)
Click to read "Reflections on the Hard Lessons of Arab-Israeli Peacemaking," a USIP On the Issues by Samuel W. Lewis.
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Iran's Supreme Leader Sets up Body to Oversee Internet
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered officials to set up a body to oversee the internet. The Supreme Council of Virtual Space will protect Iran from "harm" resulting from "the increasing spread of information and communication technologies, the decree said. The council will be tasked with defining policy and co-ordinating decisions regarding the internet. It is thought to be the strongest attempt so far by the Iranian authorities to control the internet.
See the full article (BBC, 3/7/12)
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Russians Tweet, Post Video of Anti-Putin Protests
Russians protesting Putin's win and the alleged voter fraud gathered in Moscow's Pushkin square on Monday, chanting phrases like "Russia without Putin." Russians caught in the thick of the anti-Putin rallies used Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to send out news and video of the protests to the rest of the country and the world. Mashable has collected some of the best examples of social media use during the anti-Putin rallies.
See the full article (Mashable, Alex Fitzpatrick, 3/5/12)
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Tajikistan Blocks Facebook, News Sites
The shutdown was ordered by the state-run communications service because the websites were critical to the president Emomali Rakhmon. Political website Zvezda was reportedly the first to go down soon after publishing an article titled "Tajikistan on the eve of a revolution" that analyzed Rakhmon's growing autocratic moves. Facebook was likely blocked because of how protesters in Arab countries and in Russia have used it to coordinate public rallies.
See the full article (ZDNet, Emil Protalinski, 3/4/12)
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Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open
Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube. Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. Apparently, that approach has been ineffective, so the government now wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.
See the full article (New York Times, Eric Pfanner, 3/2/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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New York Man Who Touted Bin Laden on MySpace Gets 27 Years in Prison
A 24-year-old Brooklyn, New York, man who transcribed Osama bin Laden videos on his MySpace page was sentenced to 27 years in prison for conspiring to commit murder overseas and supporting terrorism. Closing arguments in the trial focused on whether [Betim] Kaziu's MySpace page and his contacts and travel overseas were evidence of a conspiracy. His avatar on the page, "Sayf-UL-iSLAM," showed a figure in military fatigues with a saber. Under the alias Abdul Wahab Al-Albani, Kaziu's postings included lines such as "Angry at the Kuffar," or disbeliever.
See the full article (Bloomberg, 3/2/12)
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Social Media, iPhones and the Death of Photojournalism [Infographic]
Technological convergence has resulted in a device which can tweet, share, film videos, capture images and sound, send messages and communicate news in real time. The result is millions of citizens who can spread media rapidly with their cell phone without the need for a news organisation, a broadcast tower or a printing press. This infographic nicely sums up what's happening in the world of citizen journalism, social media, and revolutions.
See the full article (Memeburn, Lauren Granger, 3/2/12)
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Kenyan Government Takes Cautious Approach Toward Social Media
The Kenyan government is gearing up to put controls on social media as more politicians engage the public in debate online. Kenya is set to hold general elections later this year and the government, while encouraging use of Web services a way to communicate, is also expected to take action to try avoid political incitement through social media and other online services. After the 2007 elections, Kenya was engulfed in violence. The mainstream media was criticized for either downplaying or sensationalizing the violence, depending on the political leanings of the media group in question.
See the full article (PC World, Rebecca Wanjiku, 3/2/12)
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Jordanian Blogger Stabbed After Post that Criticized Royal Family
The Feb. 20 attack in Amman appears to be linked to [Enass] Musallam's critical writings about members of the Jordanian royal family. The day before she was stabbed, she reportedly wrote an article on her blog that criticized Prince Hassan bin Talal's recent commentary about dispersing demonstrators in an Amman square. For the last year, Jordan has witnessed pro-democracy protests, pushing King Abdullah II to fire his previous cabinet and introduce reforms.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Alexandra Sandels, 3/1/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Bamako Chic: Threads of Power, Color and Culture" - ViewChange
In the 1960s, a small group of Malian women cloth dyers reinvigorated the craft of hand-dyed cloth using a fabric called bazin. Now, thanks to microcredit programs introduced in the mid-1980s, bazin production has flourished into a lucrative enterprise dominated by women. Their artistic creativity has become a force for alleviating poverty and affirming identity in West Africa.
See the full video
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