USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, May 3 - 9, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Al Jazeera Shuts Beijing Bureau After Reports on Abortion
Al Jazeera English said it was closing its Beijing bureau after China refused to renew the visa of correspondent [Melissa Chan], whose stories included reports on secret jails and forced abortions in the country. Foreign journalists who sought to cover [LEGAL ACTIVIST CHEN GUANGCHENG], who is still staying at a Beijing hospital after he left the embassy, were summoned for meetings with security officials, who told them they risked having their visas revoked, according to the FCCC.
See the full article (Bloomberg, Nicholas Wadhams, 5/8/12)
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Arab Spring Spurs Palestinian Journalists to Test Free Speech Limits
As Palestinian journalists and activists, imbued with the spirit of the Arab Spring, become more daring and enamored with the possibilities of new media and social networking sites, the primary instinct of some in the Palestinian Authority has been to crack down. Now Palestinian officials, journalists and bloggers are struggling to define the principles of freedom of expression and its boundaries, and to distinguish between legitimate criticism and defamation.
See the full article (New York Times, Isabel Kershner, 5/7/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Should Journalists be Protected?
For the past few years, the rise of what is called 'citizen journalism' or 'public journalism', has made the question of journalists' rights all the more tricky. But what about when the audience is fighting? In Egypt, the concept of citizen journalism has been as celebrated as anywhere over the past year. But if every citizen is a journalist, and citizens are protesting the government, how can journalists credibly demand protection? And who are they demanding protection from?
See the full article (Huffington Post, Maurice Chammah, 5/7/12)
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In the Enemy's Den: My Interview With Hamas for the Jewish Media
My experience recently traveling to Cairo to interview Mousa Abu Marzook, the number two official in Hamas, on behalf of the Jewish Daily Forward filled me with a kind of dread anxiety I had never experienced in previous interviews. It marked the first time a senior Hamas leader had ever agreed to sit down and be interviewed by a Jewish, pro-Israel publication. I knew I was tasked with an almost sacred obligation to vigorously pursue issues that many mainstream outlets barely bothered with.
See the full article (Atlantic, Larry Cohler-Esses, 5/7/12)
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"Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015" Reports on Current, Future Regional Trends
In several markets directly affected by political uprisings, the media industry's structure was being overhauled, with a significant break from the past. But the pace of media reform in these markets was gradual as the medium-term agenda seems to focus on pressing economic and political issues. That's to the consternation of impatient press freedom advocates who have fought long and hard in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, and have been undergoing revolts to change regimes.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Magda Abu-Fadil, 5/7/12)
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Farc Rebels 'To Release Reporter Romeo Langlois Soon'
Members of the Farc rebel group in Colombia say they will soon release the French journalist Romeo Langlois, whom they are believed to be holding. In a statement published on a Twitter account thought to belong to the Farc, the rebels say they captured Mr Langlois during clashes with the Colombian army last Saturday. Mr. Langlois disappeared while filming an army raid on a cocaine laboratory.
See the full article (BBC, 5/6/12)
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British Publisher Preparing Release of Taliban Poetry Anthology
A group of researchers are preparing to release an anthology of Taliban poetry, something they hope will help English-speakers better understand the men who've waged more than a decade of war against NATO-led forces in Afghanistan. Many of the works in "Poetry of the Taliban" center on the movement's campaign to expel foreign forces from their territory, with angry battle anthems or mournful dirges devoted to civilian casualties. But others touch on themes of religious devotion, nostalgia, or even love.
See the full article (AP, 5/5/12)
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Four Journalists Murdered in Mexico in a Week
On world press freedom day, the bodies of three press photographers - Gabriel Huge, Guillermo Luna and Esteban Rodríguez - were recovered from a shallow canal in the Mexican port city of Veracruz. The latest murders underline Veracruz's current status as the most extreme focal point for attacks against journalists. These have become commonplace in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the drug cartels in December 2006 and extreme violence exploded across the country.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 5/4/12)
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Sitting Around, Having a Drink, Joking About Sex. On Iraqi TV.
The concept of the television program was subversive by Iraqi standards: a comedy daring enough to joke about sex and relationships. The show has struck a chord among a public hungry for homegrown entertainment that challenges certain orthodoxies and tired of politically tinged programming produced by channels affiliated with parties and officials. "There Is Someone" is broadcast by Al Sumaria, considered one of the few media outlets not linked to a political party.
See the full article (New York Times, Tim Arango, 5/3/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Besieged Afghan Media Appeals to Karzai for Protection
Afghanistan's media representatives are appealing to the government to protect the rights of journalists who are facing a growing number of violent threats in what they see as an undeclared campaign against media freedom. War and an atmosphere of impunity make Afghanistan one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. The Taliban often regard reporters as their enemies and many officials are suspicious of a prying press.
See the full article (Reuters, Amie Ferris-Rotman and Mirwais Harooni, 5/4/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "India and Pakistan in Afghanistan: the 2014 Regional Outlook" on May 18 at 11:00am.
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Local Television Broadcasting in the West Bank
Operating a television station in the occupied West Bank has never been an easy task, with broadcasters facing pressure from both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government. Palestinian journalist and TV producer Daoud Kuttab tells [On the Media] about the relatively recent establishment of local Palestinian TV stations and the difficulties they face.
See the full article (NPR, 5/4/12)
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5th Somali Journalist Killed in 2012; US Calls for Accountability on World Press Freedom Day
Dozens of Somali journalists met Thursday in somber silence to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, a meeting that came only hours after the killing of [Farhan Abdulle], the fifth Somali journalist this year. His death is the latest in a string of what appear to be targeted killings of reporters in Somalia, where journalists must watch their backs for attacks from militants and criminals and fight through judicial inaction and even outright hostility from the government.
See the full article (AP, 5/3/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Iran Filters Khamenei's Fatwa on Antifiltering
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has apparently become the latest victim of Iran's Internet censorship regime -- to which he himself has given his blessing and approval. The website Tabnak reports that Khamenei's "fatwa" on the illegality of using antifiltering tools in Iran was itself blocked in the country, some 30 hours after it was published on Iranian websites. The ruling was seemingly filtered because it contained the word "antifiltering," which triggered the country's censorship system to automatically block it.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 5/9/12)
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China's Expulsion of Journalist Has Parallels in Thailand
In Thailand, nearly 75,000 Web sites are being been blocked by the government. And the death in a Thai prison of "Uncle SMS," as reported by Thomas Fuller, my colleague in Bangkok, was deeply saddening for many Thais yearning for a fully oxygenated democracy. Ampon Tangnoppakul, 61, died Tuesday while serving a 20-year sentence for insulting the Thai king and queen. Four text messages sent from his cellphone had offended the royal censors, although the court did not disclose what the messages said.
See the full article (International Herald Tribune, Mark McDonald, 5/9/12)
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Bahraini Activist Rajab Held on Incitement Charges
A prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, has been arrested in Bahrain on charges of inciting protests by using social networking websites. He is one of the most well-known activists in the Arab world, frequently speaking to the world's media and having more than 140,000 followers on Twitter. Mr. Rajab has been at the centre of many of the protests which erupted last year. He was also a vociferous opponent of the decision to hold the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.
See the full article (BBC, 5/7/12)
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With Chen Guangcheng News on Twitter, China's Censors Lost Control
For a government that keeps a tight grip on information, this was a week when it lost control of the narrative. In the diplomatic standoff over blind activist Chen Guangcheng, technology and growing social-media savvy helped spread, drive and at times even muddy a story rife with unexpected twists. The round-the-clock use of Twitter and other social media by Chinese activists kept foreign journalists and human rights groups overseas apprised of developments in real time, even as authorities tried to isolate Chen and his supporters.
See the full article (Washington Post, Keith B. Richburg, 5/5/12)
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Separated for Decades by Exile and War, Palestinians Connect with Relatives Online
Mona Maarouf, 26, still considers Shaab home, even though she has spent her life in Sidon, has never visited her ancestral village and maybe never will. She knew she had relatives there but knew nothing about them. Then she joined Facebook. Social media have produced a boom in communications between Palestinians in Israel and the Arab world, once connected only through rare letters carried by intermediaries or the International Red Cross.
See the full article (AP, 5/3/12)
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E-Mail Confused Osama, and 5 Other Revelations From the Bin Laden Files
Osama bin Laden didn't really use e-mail. Or, at least, that was what U.S. officials told reporters after last year's raid. In order to stop U.S. spies from eavesdropping on his communications, they said, bin Laden would give couriers thumb drives packed with his messages that they would e-mail out from anonymous accounts at internet cafes. But it may be that bin Laden just wasn't that familiar with how e-mail worked.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 5/3/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Innovative Approach to Delivering Aid in DR Congo" - UNICEF
UNICEF correspondent Guy Hubbard reports on an innovative aid distribution system for families displaced by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
See the full video
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