USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 8 - 14, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

A Journalist's Battle with Hamas
Mahmoud Abu Rahma, a Palestinian human rights activist and columnist based in Gaza, was the victim of one of the worst incidents recorded by Mada so far this year. The attack occurred after the publication of his latest article calling out the government as well as armed groups for placing civilians at risk of Israeli reprisal attacks.
See the full article (Daily Beast, George Hale, 3/14/12)
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Sensational Shows Imperil the Future of Pakistan's Fledgling Broadcast Media
A primetime talk-show on a Pakistani private news channel was recently used by a leader of former president General Musharraf's party as a conduit to give death threats to a rival panelist. The channel never apologized for embarrassing its audience by providing a platform to people who justified killing dissenting leaders. Such shows increase ratings and broaden channels' advertising revenue pool.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Malik Siraj Akbar, 3/14/12)
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Mexican Law Change to Protect Journalists
Mexico's senate has approved constitutional changes that would make all attacks on journalists a federal crime. It means that all crimes against media workers would be investigated by the central government's attorney general. The majority of attacks on Mexican journalists have not been investigated let alone led to prosecutions.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 3/14/12)
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George Clooney's Crusade for Diplomatic Intervention in Sudan
Clooney has just returned from the conflict zone with fellow peace activist John Prendergast, who warned of "a coming cataclysm" in East Africa. They were scheduled to press their case today and tomorrow in meetings with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But Clooney-who has long used his star power to aim a spotlight on the mayhem-was the big draw.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove, 3/14/12)
Click to read "Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity," a Congressional Testimony by USIP's Jonathan Temin.
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Angolan Police Raid Independent Newspaper (AP, 3/13/12)
Angolan police have seized the computers of the weekly Folha 8, after the paper published a photo montage lampooning President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. About 15 officers from the National Directorate of Criminal Investigations raided the offices on Monday and hauled off 20 computers, effectively shutting down one of the country's two independent newspapers. Angola is due to hold elections later this year, only the third since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975.
See the full article
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Turkish Journalists Freed from Prison Amid Concerns for Press Freedom
Four Turkish journalists were freed from jail Monday, a year after they were detained in a case that has raised fears for press freedom in the country. Two pledged to immediately tackle sensitive subjects again, including the killing of an ethnic Armenian journalist. Dozens of journalists are jailed on terrorism charges in Turkey, and Erdogan's government faces growing international criticism that it is trying to silence its challengers.
See the full article (AP, 3/12/12)
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Lessons From Another War
"We talk about generals fighting the last war," said Tim McNulty, who served as foreign editor for The Chicago Tribune during the Iraq war. "I think journalists also do." Nine years after the start of the Iraq war, the scene has shifted to Iran, and Mr. McNulty has a more detached view of events, as co-director of the National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University. Now he cautions journalists against falling again for a kind of siren song: "the narrative of war."
See the full article (New York Times, Arthur S. Brisbane, 3/10/12)
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Oleg Kashin and the Dangers of Russian Journalism
It's incredibly dangerous to be a journalist in Russia - hundreds of reporters have been killed in just the last 15 years. Oleg Kashin knows that all too well, he's a special correspondent for the Russian newspaper Kommersant and in 2010 he was viciously beaten into a coma by attackers outside his home. Kashin explains to [On the Media] the price of journalism in Russia and why he continues to pay it.
See the full article (NPR, 3/9/12)
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Journalism in Africa: In Praise of Africa's Hacks
Eritrea has the worst record in the world when it comes to the abuse of journalists but across Africa, in Malawi, Swaziland, The Gambia, Rwanda, Congo, the story is similar. The killing of brave Somali hacks continues, with two more journalists shot dead this year already. Whatever the reasons for the killings, both were heroes as are many Somali and African journalists forced into exile on the back of death threats or fear of imprisonment.
See the full article (Economist, 3/8/12)
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Safety of Women Journalists on the Frontline Highlighted in New Book
The brutal attack on Lara Logan in Cairo's Tahrir Square last February was the genesis for the book, which features the experiences of 40 contributors from more than a dozen countries. At the time, there was no single point of reference for this, but as we worked to create one, we realised there could be no "one size fits all" approach to the debate about the safety of women journalists covering conflict, disaster, civil unrest, corruption and terror. And a year later, that is still the case.
See the full article (Guardian, Hannah Storm, 3/8/12)
Click to read "International Women's Day: A Focus on Leadership," a USIP On the Issues by Anne E. Rondeau.
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Internet and Social Media

For Syrian Activists, YouTube is a Sword and Shield
Syrian forces stormed the town of Douma this week, fired at the home of activist Mahmoud Saab, wounded the father of two and then hanged him from the balcony of his home. Activists reported this grisly act by word of mouth and e-mail. But they took one more step. They released a shaky, 42-second video showing his body dangling from a damaged building caught in the crossfire of war.
See the full article (CNN, Joe Sterling, 3/14/12)
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TechnoTalk - @Documentally Discusses "Revolutionary" Protest Apps
As governments and security forces become more aware of the role of social media in coordinating protest movements they are developing new ways to block, hack and track citizens tweets, Facebook posts and other social-media messages. The Frontline Club, an independent journalism organisation in London, held a panel discussion on Tuesday in association with the BBC College of Journalism to debate the role of mobile apps that aim to empower protesters.
See the full article (Reuters, Julie Mollins, 3/14/12)
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BBC Fears Iranian Cyber-attack over Its Persian TV Service
[BBC] headquarters in London were the target of a sustained online attack in a widening of earlier assaults on the BBC by suspected government forces in Iran. The latest attack - which disrupted email access within some parts of the BBC for about four hours - came two days after the BBC hailed the success of its Farsi-language service that has come under fire from Tehran authorities.
See the full article (Guardian, Josh Halliday, 3/14/12)
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Al Jazeera to Broadcast Syria Documentary Filmed Entirely on iPhone
In an interesting development for mobile journalism, Al Jazeera is due to broadcast a documentary tomorrow night on Syria which has been filmed by a journalist using just an iPhone due to safety concerns. According to a press release, the film, called Syria: Songs of Defiance, "follows the journalist, who is not named to protect the people he spoke to, on a journey amongst the uprising in Syria".
See the full article (, Rachel McAthy, 3/13/12)
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Kony 2012: 75 Million Viewers Later, Some Ugandans Get First Glimpse of Film
Few in Lira, once the epicentre of fighting between Kony's rebels and the Ugandan armed forces, have access to the Internet at speeds that will allow the 30-minute film to stream. Growing numbers of Ugandan bloggers, newspaper columnists, and individual citizens are making public their concerns with the film, most of which center on claims that it fudges the current status of the conflict, and that it portrays the war as winnable, or Kony as stoppable, only with Western interventions.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Mike Pflanz, 3/13/12)
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How 'Peace Provocateurs' are Defusing Religious Tensions in Indonesia
An interfaith group with no formal structure, the Peace Provocateurs are as ambitious in their goal as they are simple in their method. After watching some in [Ambon, Indonesia] use SMS and social media to whip up fights, exaggerating or simply inventing incidents to spark trouble, they decided they could respond in kind with reverse intent. "If provocateurs could use the new technology to incite violence, we could use it to undermine their incitement", says one of the leaders of the group.
See the full article (Independent, Andrew Stroehlein, 3/12/12)
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Sri Lanka Slaps Censorship on Text Messages
Sri Lanka has imposed censorship on security-related mobile phone messages despite the withdrawal last year of tough emergency laws following the end of its separatist war with Tamil rebels. In a directive to media organisations, [the defense ministry] said they must get prior approval to publish SMS news alerts "related to national security and security forces." Almost all major media outlets have their own SMS alerts to complement their mainstream radio, television and newspapers.
See the full article (AFP, 3/12/12)
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Citizen Journalism, Cyber Censorship and the Arab Spring
Around 120 people are currently being detained for expressing their views freely online, according to press freedom group Reporters Without Borders. Those like Rami Al-Sayed, a key provider of online videos showing the Syrian government's bombardment of Homs - who was tragically killed last month - have gained recognition as extraordinary journalists rather than ordinary citizens. In this feature we take a look at the restrictions, penalties and tragedies involved in the online reporting of the Arab spring.
See the full article (, Sarah Marshall, 3/12/12)
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Tweeting Osama's Death: The Accidental Citizen Journalist
Sohaib Athar was a 33-year-old IT consultant living in Abbottabad, Pakistan, last year when he settled in around midnight to get some work done. Then, something unusual happened in his quiet town. And, as many of us do, he took to Twitter to share. Unbeknownst to him, Athar was stepping into one of the year's biggest news stories: the U.S. military operation that killed notorious terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. In the days that followed, he'd become "the man who live-tweeted Osama's death."
See the full article (CNN, Doug Gross, 3/12/12)
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US Army: Geotagged Facebook Posts Put Soldiers' Lives at Risk
By posting photos on Facebook or checking-in on social media sites, soldiers may reveal the exact location of their unit or their family, the US Army said in a statement. It says Facebook's new Timeline feature, which creates a map of places geotagged by users, also poses a risk to soldiers and their families Many smartphones automatically geotag photos with GPS co-ordinates. In 2007 four US Army helicopters were destroyed in Iraq after geotagged photos were posted on the internet.
See the full article (BBC, 2/9/12)
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In the Middle East International Women's Day is Documented on Social Media
Countries worldwide are honoring International Women's Day, and the nations of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception. Egyptians turned to social media to help organize protests during the Arab Spring - and in fact, it was a woman, Asmaa Mahfouz, who helped organize protesters to Egypt's Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2011 with her viral YouTube video. When coverage of attacks on female protestors started breaking from the region in late 2011, women again were at the forefront of the protests.
See the full article (Mashable, Sonia Paul, 3/9/12)
Click to read "Lessons from Women's Programs in Afghanistan and Iraq," a USIP Special Report by Kathleen Kuehnast, Manal Omar, Steven E. Steiner, and Hodei Sultan.
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In a Switch, Iran's Hard-Line Cyberactivists Criticize Government Censorship
Blocking online content and arresting online journalists and bloggers has long been one of the main ways the Iranian regime strikes back at critics and opponents. In recent months, though, filtering appears to have been used increasingly as a tool in the ongoing power struggle within Iran's conservative camp. In the weeks leading up to the March 2 parliamentary elections,a number of websites supportive of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad were reportedly blocked by the country's judiciary.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 3/8/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Challenging the Axis of Resistance: Syria, Iran and the Strategic Balance in the Middle East" on March 21 at 7:30am.
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Wanted: Censor for Pakistan's Internet
Pakistan is advertising for companies to install an Internet filtering system that could block up to 50 million Web addresses, alarming free speech activists who fear current censorship could become much more widespread. "They are already blocking a lot of Internet content, and now they are going for a massive system that can only limit and control political discourse," said Shahzad Ahmad, the director of Bytes for All Pakistan, which campaigns for Internet freedom.
See the full article (AP, Chris Brummitt, 3/8/12)
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Solving War Crimes with Wristbands: The Arrogance of 'Kony 2012'
By making it an end in and of itself, awareness stands in for, and maybe even displaces, specific solutions to these very complicated problems. Campaigns that focus on bracelets and social media absorb resources that could go toward more effective advocacy, and take up rhetorical space that could be used to develop more effective advocacy. How do we go from raising awareness about LRA violence to actually stopping it?
See the full article (Atlantic, Kate Cronin-Furman and Amanda Taub, 3/8/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"This is BBC Media Action" - BBC
BBC Media Action is using media and communication to provide access to life-saving information to enable some of the poorest people in the world to be involved in their communities. Media helps break through stereotypes, stigmas, religious and other divides. The BBC Media Action is working to train responsible journalists from all over the world to report the facts in an unbiased manner and promote freedom of speech.
See the full video
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