USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 19- January 8, 2014

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Media and Journalism

The Controversial Death of a Teenage Stringer
On Dec. 20, 2013, Molhem Barakat took his last picture of the Syrian war. He had been photographing a battle for control of Aleppo's al-Kindi Hospital when he was killed along with his older brother Mustafa, a fighter in a local rebel brigade. Barakat's cameras, apparently provided to him by the news agency Reuters, were photographed covered in blood in the aftermath of the attack.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, David Kenner, 1/7/14)
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Burmese Journalists Stage Press Freedom Demonstration
Dozens of Burmese journalists staged a rare demonstration today to protest at a reporter being sentenced to jail while working on a story about corruption. About 60 journalists paraded through a busy street in the capital, Rangoon. Some wore black T-shirts bearing slogans such as "We don't want threats to press freedom." Others carried banners saying "Right to information is the life of democracy."
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 1/7/14)
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Al-Qaeda Group Executes Media and Relief Workers in Aleppo
Al Jazeera is quoting ground reports from northern Syria that suggest the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) executed media activists, aid workers and civilians on Monday. The 50 appear to have been slain following the victory of a rebel coalition in Aleppo over the weekend, activist organization the Local Coordination Committees told the Doha-based broadcaster.
See the full article (Time, David Stout, 1/7/14)
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Where are The Deadliest Places for Journalists?
At least 70 journalists were killed around the world in 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), with Syria proving the deadliest. The annual report states that "Syria remained the most deadly place for journalists on the job in 2013, while Iraq and Egypt each saw a spike in fatal violence". In total, the Middle East accounted for two thirds of journalist deaths with a motive confirmed, last year.
See the full article (Guardian, 1/7/14)
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China's Wrongheaded Crackdown on The Media
[A] study guide, along with a test, is being used by the authorities to prepare Chinese reporters as they seek renewal of their press cards. According to the New York Times, which published quotes from the study guide and some test questions, news organizations across China have been holding lectures since November on the latest journalistic principles as outlined by the Communist Party Central Committee's Third Plenum. What's striking is not the fact of party control over the Chinese news media, which is a day-to-day reality, but how the party is demanding journalists absorb a backwards and outdated study guide based on failed concepts of the last century.
See the full article (Washington Post, 1/5/14)
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South Sudan's Tangled Crisis
The international media has been all too ready to frame the violence that erupted after Dec. 15 entirely in terms of ethnic violence and state collapse - a familiar narrative for conflicts in African countries that glosses over the political roots of the conflict. The Guardian splashed its front page with "South Sudan: The State That Fell Apart in a Week," and the paper's reporting reflected a media narrative that has shifted from the South's victimhood at the hands of the North to one of bipolar tribal conflict between the two dominant tribes in the country, the Dinka, the president's tribe, and the Nuer, his challenger's.
See the full article (New York Times, Nesrine Malik, 1/5/14) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Crisis in South Sudan" on January 10, 2014 at 3:30pm.
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China Media: Shinzo Abe Speech Criticised
China's official media are condemning Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his New Year speech and saying he should learn from Germany's remorse for World War II. In his New Year's message, Mr Abe predicted that Japan's post-World War II pacifist constitution, which limits Japan's military to self-defence, could be amended by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics. "Mr Abe's speech was full of murderous intent and openly challenged the peace and order of the world," says the Liberation Army Daily.
See the full article (BBC, 1/2/14)
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Ukraine's Leaders are Silencing The Independent Media
In 2013, there were more than 100 acts of violence against journalists in Ukraine, and nearly half of these occurred in December as riot police unleashed a wave of violence during the ongoing "Euromaidan" protests. Last week, well-respected Ukrainian journalist Tetyana Chernovil was brutally beaten on her way home. The image of Chernovil's bruised face has since been adopted by Euromaidan protesters as a symbol of state-sanctioned repression against Ukraine's independent media.
See the full article (Washington Post, Sergii Leshchenko, 12/30/13)
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The Rise of 'Radio Mullah'
Mullah Maulana Fazlullah, the new head of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), is commonly referred to as "Radio Mullah" for the fiery broadcasts that played a significant role in his rise to power in the Swat region. The content of this radio station, widely reported to consist of anti-U.S. and anti-Pakistani government broadcasts, relied heavily on fundamentalist Islamic teachings, and called for shari'a law to be enforced in the region as part of a wider campaign to restore the Caliphate.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Mohsin Ali, 12/23/13)
Click to read "Pakistan 60 Second Film Festival Goes International" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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Internet and Social Media

Did Iran Just Ban Online Chatting?
Did Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, just ban online chatting between unrelated men and women? Both the Jerusalem Post and the exiled opposition group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran website - not exactly unbiased sources on Iranian affairs - say he has. The "ban" is sourced to a response the religious leader gave to a question submitted to his website by a conflicted follower. "Given the immorality that often applies to this, it is not permitted," Khamenei answered.
See the full article (Time, Aryn Baker, 1/8/14)
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Israel Says Palestinian 'Incitement' Could Undermine Peace Talks
Israeli asserted Monday that media messages from Palestinian leaders are creating "a culture of hate" that could undermine U.S.-led peace talks. The Israeli government says incitement against Israel and its Jewish majority has intensified in the five months since Secretary of State John F. Kerry relaunched negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israeli government's "incitement index" report includes short Internet video clips and screen shots of Facebook pages.
See the full article (Washington Post, William Booth, 1/6/14)
Click to read "What Might Persuade Israelis, Palestinians to Back Peace? " an Olive Branch Post by Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen.
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'After All the People We Killed, We Felt Dizzy'
The [Ecuadorian] court apparently missed the irony of censoring a book called A Hidden Tragedy, [about an ethnic massacre] but few others in Ecuador did.Outrage exploded on social media; digital versions of the book went viral and were available on torrent sites minutes after the ban was announced. Correa's top ministers took to Twitter at 7 a.m. the next day to say they opposed the ban, and by 9 a.m. the judge had rescinded her order.
See the full article (Newsweek, Bethany Horne, 1/6/14)
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How the NSA Threatens National Security
Secret NSA eavesdropping is still in the news. With all this going on, it's easy to become inured to the breadth and depth of the NSA's activities. But through the disclosures, we've learned an enormous amount about the agency's capabilities, how it is failing to protect us, and what we need to do to regain security in the Information Age.
See the full article (Atlantic, Bruce Schneier, 1/6/14)
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Anti-Social Media
Would Twitter and Facebook change the dynamic between Israelis and Palestinians and make a one-state solution possible? This [question is based on] misperceptions of the conflict. One is techno-utopianism. That's the faith that new technology will build a better world-not just in the practical sense, but also in the political and moral sense.
See the full article (Slate, Gershom Gorenberg, 1/2/14)
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Egypt Questions Vodafone Over "Bomb Code" Advert
Egyptian state security prosecutors are questioning the makers of a commercial for Vodafone Egypt after a little-known rap singer alleged the ad included coded signals for bomb attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood. In a statement sent to Reuters on Thursday, it said the ad posted on YouTube and social media channels and featuring a well-known puppet character was meant to promote a special offer for customers to re-activate their old SIM cards and had no hidden meaning.
See the full article (Reuters, 1/2/14)
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Sunni Monarchs Back YouTube Hate Preachers
Satellite television, internet, YouTube and Twitter content, frequently emanating from or financed by oil states in the Arabian peninsula, are at the centre of a campaign to spread sectarian hatred to every corner of the Muslim world, including places where Shia are a vulnerable minority, such as Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Malaysia. YouTube-inspired divisions are not confined to the Middle East: in London's Edgware Road there was a fracas this summer when a Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) cleric held a rally in the face of objections from local Shia shopkeepers.
See the full article (, Patrick Cockburn, 12/29/13)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Governance and Stability in Iraq: Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq" on January 14, 2014 at 5:00pm.
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Instagram Gets Blocked, Then Unblocked in Iran
For approximately 12 hours, Instagram became the latest apparent victim of Iran's Internet censorship system commonly known as the "Filternet." The blocking of Instagram was initially reported by Iranian netizens early Sunday, and later confirmed by independent researchers. Instagram appeared to be the latest casualty of Iran's most recent online clampdown - despite promises of more Internet freedom by the new government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Then just a few hours later, the photo-sharing network was unblocked, and Iranian officials denied any wrongdoing.
See the full article (Mashable, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, 12/29/13)
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Pakistan Needs a Mandela
Many Pakistani friends on social media shared Mandela's inspiring quotes in celebration of his grand legacy. They showed great admiration for the man who spent his life fighting for the equal rights of his people. They were in awe of his tireless struggle for the emancipation of blacks from the callous discrimination they faced in South Africa.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Kashif N. Chaudhry, 12/29/13)
Click to read "Strengthening Women's Influence in Transition: Beyond Skills and 'Accountability'" an Olive Branch Post by Osama Gharizi.
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

The Quiet Revolution by Sheldon Himelfarb
While much attention has focused recently on debating the role of social media in high-profile events like the Arab Spring and the war in Syria, a quieter revolution has been happening around the globe. It's a revolution in innovation, information, and communication. And it could have big implications for the lives of people from Colombia to Egypt, Kenya to Afghanistan.
Read the full story
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