USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, July 26 - August 1, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Gunmen Kill Local TV Journalist in Northern Iraq
Iraqi officials say a local journalist has been shot dead by gunmen who broke into his house in the country's north. A police officer said Tuesday that the 29-year-old TV presenter, Ghazwan Anas, was having his Iftar when the gunmen broke into the family's home Monday night in the city of Mosul. His mother and wife were wounded in the attack. Anas worked for al-Mosul satellite TV channel.
See the full article (AP, Bushra Juhi, 7/31/12)
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Mexico Media Office Torched in Monterrey
A newspaper in the Mexican city of Monterrey has come under attack after several armed men stormed into a branch office of the El Norte newspaper, poured gasoline and then set fire to the building. The attack on Sunday was the third such assault to occur in the last month. Experts say the attacks could be a sign of an escalation in efforts by drug traffickers to intimidate one of the few regional outlets that continues to cover the drug war and investigate official corruption linked to cartels, while others fall silent to intimidation.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 7/31/12)
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Myanmar Censors Suspend Publication of 2 Magazines
Myanmar's censors have suspended two weekly magazines indefinitely in the latest confrontation between the government and the newly aggressive press. Reporters at the publications said privately they suspected they were linked to articles speculating about the details of an anticipated Cabinet reshuffle. President Thein Sein eased censorship as one of his reforms, [but] the flourishing of press freedom has brought serious investigative reporting and sensationalism.
See the full article (AP, 7/31/12)
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Syrian Rebels Free 2 Journalists after Weeklong Ordeal with Islamic Extremists
Two foreign journalists captured by Islamic extremists in Syria and held for a week were rescued by Syrian opposition fighters, one of them said on Friday. Dutch freelance photographer Jeroen Oerlemans and his colleague, British photographer John Cantlie, were held at a camp in Syria by a group of several dozen foreign jihadists. Mr. Oerlemans said their captors apparently included no Syrian fighters, but instead jihadists from Bangladesh, Britain, Chechnya and Pakistan.
See the full article (New York Times, Rod Nordland, 7/27/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Children of War
In today's marketing-saturated culture, the term [propaganda] may have lost some of its meaning. But that doesn't mean we should abandon our principles and our integrity. Children are a real part of the complex conflict zones in which we operate, and they will inherit the future for which we fight. We have an obligation to portray in a truthful and accurate way what we are doing for them and their families, and we need to use images of them that convey these realities.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, James Thomas Snyder, 7/27/12)
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Syria Reporters Struggle to Bear Witness as the Regime Unravels
For 17 months, President Bashar al-Assad's regime has severely restricted press access in the country as his soldiers first brutally cracked down on peaceful protests and now battle opposition forces. Western journalists have occasionally snuck into Syria, but on a daily basis primarily rely on information provided by opposition activists, residents, state-controlled media, rebel commanders, social media and anti-regime groups operating outside the country.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Michael Calderone, 7/27/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Syria's Video Activists Give Revolution the Upper Hand in Media War
In April last year Ahmad Mohammad left his village in northern Syria and moved to Lebanon. He came back five months later with a certificate in mobile phone maintenance - a weapon more powerful than Bashar al-Assad's helicopters and tanks. Across Syria hundreds of video activists - most of them young, male, and technologically savvy - have joined the revolution against the Syrian government.
See the full article (Guardian, Luke Harding, 8/1/12)
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Russia Blogger Charged as Kremlin Widens Crackdown
Russian authorities charged Alexei Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics, with theft on Tuesday, threatening him with a 10-year prison sentence as the Kremlin ramps up a crackdown on dissent. Navalny rejected the charges as "weird" and baseless. Navalny, a 36-year-old anti-corruption crusader and popular blogger, has played a key role in rallying Russia's young Internet generation against Putin's rule.
See the full article (AP, Vladimir Isachenkov, 7/31/12)
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Pentagon Wants to Monitor Facebook, Twitter to Predict Terrorism
The Pentagon wants computer programs that predict "cyber terrorism events" by detecting how criminal groups and hackers interact on the Internet, contracting databases indicate. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will fund the development of algorithms that make sense of the chatter of more than 1 million Internet users, and track how online groups evolve. DARPA is interested in software that can spot conflicts between groups and weak links that the Pentagon and law enforcement could exploit for "strategic military operations" and espionage prevention.
See the full article (Mashable, 7/30/12)
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Taking It to the Street in China
Perhaps we are even seeing the development of the "Chinese street," in the sense that the "Arab street" in the Middle East expresses the sentiments of those with no effective access to legal remedies or ways to express their outrage. If everyday people are seeing - largely via online photos, video and microblog messages - and sensing a growing effectiveness in their taking to the streets, the Communist leadership, especially with a major party congress coming in the autumn, might do well to pay heed.
See the full article (International Herald Tribune, Mark McDonald, 7/29/12)
Click to read "Democratic Breakthroughs: The Ingredients of Successful Revolts," a USIP Peace Brief by Ray Salvatore Jennings.
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Syrian Rebels Appeal to Donors through Video
With limited foreign media on the ground in Syria, our picture of the conflict is being assembled largely through citizen videos posted online and Syrian government television. Added to the mix is a new type of video made by rebels, aimed at getting funding from donors abroad. [On the Media] speaks to NPR Middle East correspondent Deb Amos about making videos in order to get weapons.
See the full article (NPR, 7/27/12)
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Sudanese Blogger Detained without Charge
"I think my country Sudan has really hit rock bottom." After saying that on a video, journalist Usamah Mohamad then announced that he would be joining protests against Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir. He was arrested soon after the video was aired and it was a month before anyone, including his family, became aware that he was being held without charge in Khartoum's high security prison. He is one of hundreds of people who have been detained over the past month in a crackdown aimed at crushing protests against the 23-year presidency of al-Bashir.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 7/27/12)
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Study Finds World Leaders Take to Twitter, but New 'Twiplomacy' Has Its Limits
The rise in so-called "Twiplomacy" among world leaders resembles something of an echo chamber, according to an analysis of Twitter accounts belonging to 264 heads of state. Altogether the Twittering leaders have sent more than 350,000 tweets to almost 52 million followers. About a third of them don't follow each other, and dozens of them don't follow any other Twitterers. Still, some converse. More than nine of every 10 tweets by Kagame and Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi are replies, the study says.
See the full article (AP, 7/26/12)
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Student Peacemakers Pledge Memorable International Day
Can the social media generation do what the "Blowin' In The Wind" generation couldn't do -- or make it last? Is it possible to seek a global truce by using the Internet and Twitter and Facebook? Are students using these tools rather than guitars and folk songs to move us to action? Student Joseph Hindogbae Kposowa of Nigeria believes that there is power in getting the non-violence word out by using the Internet.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Ken Royal, 7/26/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Social Media Conquers the Third World" - Big Think
Alec Ross, Senior Adviser for Innovation to Secretary Clinton, speaks on the role of new technologies in the developing world. Ultimately the discussion seeks answers to the question of whether or not social media technologies are spreading to the developing world. Alec expresses that we should not make the mistake of assuming that those in poor countries don't have the ingenuity to use technological tools effectively.
See the full video
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