USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 21 - 27, 2013

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Burma Approves 16 Private Dailies
Burmese authorities have granted approval for 16 daily newspapers, including one run by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party, to start publishing next week as part of media reforms allowing private dailies to operate in the country for the first time in decades. The move to allow private dailies, announced in December, comes amid a series of media reforms that would have been unthinkable during the five decades of absolute military rule that ended in March 2011.
See the full article (Radio Free Asia, 2/26/13)
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BBC Suspends Sri Lanka Broadcasts Due to 'Interference'
The BBC is to stop providing radio news to Sri Lanka's state broadcaster because of "continued interruption and interference" in its Tamil programming. The BBC took similar action in 2009 when its services were also disrupted. The Sri Lankan authorities have not so far commented on the announcement.
See the full article (BBC, 3/26/13)
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Democratizing Iraqi Media?
Democratizing the media has been one of the achievements of the United States in many state-building experiments around the world -- but this was not the case in Iraq. After the U.S. intervention in 2003, Iraqi media was transformed from being a heavily controlled state propaganda tool, to a plethora of political, ethnic, tribal, and sectarian mouthpieces.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Haider Al Safi, 3/26/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read "Mitigating Media Incitement to Violence in Iraq," a USIP Special Report by Maureen Taylor and Theo Dolan.
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Somali Women's Rights Reporter Shot Dead in Mogadishu
A 21-year-old woman has become the latest victim of a series of deadly attacks against journalists in Somalia. [Rahma] Abdulkadir is the third journalist killed in Somalia this year. The National Union of Somali Journalists has demanded that the work of a taskforce established by the Somali government to probe media assassinations be sped up.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 3/25/13)
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Iraq and the Reinvention of Reality
The Iraq war is notable not only for journalistic weakness, but for journalistic futility: the futility of fact itself. Fact could not match the fabrications of power. Eventually, our reality shifted to become what they conceived. That was the message of the Iraq war: There is no point in speaking truth to power when power is the only truth.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Sarah Kendzior, 3/24/13)
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On Iraq, Journalists Didn't Fail. They Just Didn't Succeed.
For much of the past decade, the American news media has chastised itself for how badly it performed in the months leading up to the war in Iraq. There's no doubt that many news organizations, including this one, missed important stories, underplayed others that were skeptical of the administration's case and acted too deferentially to those in power. But "failure" grossly oversimplifies what the media did and didn't do before the war, and it ignores important reasons the reporting turned out the way it did.
See the full article (Washington Post, Paul Farhi, 3/22/13)
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China Media: Two Koreas
The top news on the front pages of People's Daily and other national newspapers is President Xi Jinping's pledge of China's support for "reconciliation and co-operation" between the two Koreas in his phone conversation yesterday with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Chinese experts believe that Beijing is voicing support for direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul.
See the full article (BBC, 2/21/13)
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Toppling Saddam and a War's Coverage
Broadcast live to millions around the globe, the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square seemed to be the defining visual moment of the Iraq war. To viewers and commentators, it was gripping proof that Iraqis were celebrating the triumphal arrival of the Marines. But it was not so apparent to some of the journalists who were actually there.
See the full article (New York Times, James Estrin, 3/21/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Internet and Social Media

Saudi Arabia 'Threatens Skype Ban'
Encrypted messaging services such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp could be blocked in Saudi Arabia, the telecommunications regulator there is reported to have warned. It is demanding a means to monitor such applications, but Saudis say that would seriously inhibit their communications. Saudi newspapers are reporting that the companies behind the applications have been given a week to respond.
See the full article (BBC, 3/25/13)
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Top Saudi Cleric Says Twitter Is for Clowns
Saudi Arabia's top religious cleric has criticised the microblogging website Twitter, calling it "a council for jokesters" and a place for unjust, incorrect messages. Local journalist Faisel al-Haidari tweeted that the mufti's remarks were not intended for all Twitter users but for "corrupt" people "who sabotage the thoughts of youth with corrupt tweets".
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 3/24/13)
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Dozens of Web Activists Pardoned and Released in Oman
The sultan of the Gulf country of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, has pardoned and released dozens of online activists. The writers, bloggers and activists were arrested during a crackdown in Oman in late May and early June 2012. At the time, the public prosecutor threatened legal action against the publication of "offensive writing" in the media or online.
See the full article (BBC, 3/23/13)
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In Kenya, Social Media Hate Speech Rises as Nation Awaits Election Ruling
In the wake of elections that are still unresolved, significant numbers of Kenyans on Twitter and Facebook are purging their followers and friends as a tide of "hate speech" -- which is encouraging tribal divisions -- sweeps through social media. Such base and hateful talk during Kenya's last election in 2007 fanned tensions that spilled into violence and later led to International Criminal Court charges.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Mike Pflanz, 3/21/13)
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Jihadi Web Forums Are Losing Members to Twitter, Facebook, Death
Social media is killing the websites where terrorists and terrorist wannabes talk shop. That's the claim made by jihadi ideologue Abu Sa'd al-'Amili in a recent essay circulating online. "Major writers and analysts" are now spending more time on Facebook and Twitter than on the forums. The Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and YouTube channels of extremists may be more important indicators of where the residual jihadist movement is going.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 3/21/13)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Sri Lanka Unites, Reconciliation and Social Media" - Peace One Day
At the Peace One Day conference in London, Sri Lanka Unites' president Prashan De Visser elaborates on SLU and its determination for reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and how social media and technology helps get the job done.
See the full video
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