Tag Archives: #mediamonday
Somewhere among rocky hills and dusty towns, where the scent of juniper wafts through the springtime air or snow grips the land with a cold, wintry hand, a 13-year-old-boy once sat writing stories for children’s magazines. His town was near the Iranian border in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province. At 16 he was writing a weekly sports column for an Urdu language newspaper in a land where politics was all but taboo. By the time he was 20, he was reporting on politics in English, and today he is a respected journalist in exile, receiving political asylum in the United States last year. That journalist is Malik Siraj Akbar, who is currently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, where he is focusing on threats faced by the defenders of democracy, such as political leaders, human rights activists, and journalists.
Balochistan may be blessed with beautiful snowcapped mountains and juniper trees, but it is also one of the most dangerous places in the world, especially for journalists. Reporters Without Borders has named Pakistan the most dangerous place for journalists, singling out the Khuzdar region of Balochistan in particular. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented that 42 Pakistani journalists have been killed since 1992, friends of Malik’s among them. The literacy rate of Balochistan is a paltry 37 percent compared to the national rate of 53 percent, according to journalist and human rights activist Mazhar Leghari. Few newspapers are published in the region, and little industry exists for advertisements that could bring in revenue to sustain them. Most people get their news from radio. Internet penetration is barely 10 percent in Pakistan, and the government has blocked 4,000 websites, according to Malik.
The blocked websites include The Baloch Hal (The Baloch News), Balochistan’s first online English language newspaper, which is founded and edited by Malik. The site is maintained from three different countries and is geared towards a foreign policy audience. Malik also has a blog, All Things Considered.
Malik told CIMA that journalists in Pakistan are in need of training in professionalism, ethics, and basic reporting skills. Media development organizations should promote community radio, especially in local languages. He pointed out that Iran broadcasts two radio stations in the Balochi language, but no American station like Voice of America broadcasts a service in Balochi. He would like to see the U.S. government play a broader role in broadcasting news and liberal values to counter the propaganda coming from Iran.
Further resources on media in Pakistan:
Pakistan’s Media Environment and its Development (AudienceScapes)
Developing Open Media in Pakistan (Internews/USAID)
Follow Malik Siraj Akbar on Twitter.
Hollman Morris has dedicated his life to giving a voice to Colombians who do not have one. A 20–year veteran journalist, Morris has focused on human rights and issues about armed conflict in his native Colombia. He has concentrated on civilians from outside the large cities, those who do not have the same access to the media as their urban counterparts. He reports from the viewpoint of the bottom ranks of society rather than from the top down.
When conflicts last as long as the one in Colombia, human beings tend to stop seeing the faces of the victims. People become nothing but numbers. For 10 years, Morris has tried to change that through his television show Contravia, a weekly program that seeks to provide a voice to victims of human rights abuses.
“It is important to give people their own voice to tell their stories instead of having journalists tell what they think their audiences want to hear,” Morris said. More than 300 episodes have shown stories about the war happening outside the cities that goes largely unreported. Contravia shows the other realities of Colombia by storytelling, reporting, debating, and interviewing. The program places an emphasis on creating a human rights-based culture, as Morris believes the best way to fight the barbarism of war is to show how it affects the lives of those who must endure it. Watch Contravia online here.
In 2005, Morris came up with the idea to make a documentary film about the trials of paramilitaries who were accused of killing thousands of Colombians. The trials were designed to create “peace and justice” in Colombia, but political and economic interests impeded the process. He came up with the idea after traveling through the country and seeing the drama in the lives of people who were looking for relatives lost in the war. Morris saw how the victims were forgotten by Colombian society. Three years later, Impunity was finished. The film has been shown across the world, but not in Colombia, where political forces have prevented it from being shown in the large theaters.
Morris’ work has come with a price. He has spent 10 years outside of his country after being subjected to arbitrary detentions and threats. A film about his life was produced by Juan José Lozano titled Unwanted Witness. Morris is currently a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy and will be speaking at a NED event on Thursday: Intercepting Democracy: Colombia’s Intelligence Service vs. Civil Liberties. Morris will recount the illegal actions undertaken by the DAS and discuss issues of political responsibility and the consequences for individual victims, civil society, and the state of democracy in Colombia. He will propose recommendations for addressing past abuses and reinforcing respect for the fundamental rights of citizens.
Read more about Morris in this interview with Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
Tornadoes touching down in ice storms. Tsunamis wiping out cities. Drought and famine destroying populations. All of these are stories the media has had to report in recent times. Journalists need to know how to write about these events, and training programs on environmental reporting are popping up in universities and media training centers across the warming globe.
The Society for Environmental Journalists’ website contains a wealth of information about the environment and governmental policies. Numerous universities have environmental journalism programs, including the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University, the Center for Environmental Journalism at University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at Berkley.
Distance learning is becoming increasingly important in the realm of global media development. One of these distance learning initiatives is an online course on covering climate change. The course is an initiative by Internews and the Poynter Institute and is part of the Earth Journalism Network program. The course is designed to provide non-expert reporters and citizen journalists a firm grounding in the science and policy underlying climate change.
Poynter Institute, through its online learning site NewsU, provided the technical expertise in building the course, while Internews is responsible for the content and subject expertise. The site went live in 2009 and there are plans to translate it into Spanish in the near future. Internews is teaming up with regional and national media associations to spread the word about the courses to their members.
What journalists learn from the course:
- How climate change affects various beats in a news organization
- Scientific explanations of how the earth’s climate has changed through time are always subject to revision
- Proposed solutions to global warming and its effects
- How to write an unbiased story
- Examples of stories covering climate change
- Tips, such as where to find resources
As nine of the last ten winters have been the warmest since we began keeping records 130 years ago, there is solid evidence the earth is warming. Because of this, we can be sure we will continue to read about massive storms and tragic disasters. With programs like that of the Earth Journalism Network, journalists can be prepared to write these stories.
Happy New Year!
Welcome to the official launch of the CIMA Media Blog, an information hub for media development, freedom of expression, citizen journalism, and media tools in the digital age. The CIMA Media Blog will serve as a multimedia, interactive space where media development specialists and policymakers can come to learn about events, reports, and other programs; share best practices and lessons learned; and get acquainted with others in the field.
You’ll find monthly updates about funding issues in media development, global media policy updates, regional and country highlights, and the latest studies and resources in the international media development field.
On Mondays CIMA Media Blog will publish #mediamonday, which includes interviews with media development practitioners, stories about their work, and advances, events, and innovations in the media development field.
CIMA encourages comments and discussion on posts to promote meaningful dialogue about media issues and media development. Readers are encouraged to share posts through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Check out these posts:
Make sure to follow our RSS feed so you don’t miss a post, and please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest updates in international media development. Also, check out other CIMA resources:
Digital Media Mash Up – a weekly compilation of events, news articles, and research about digital media. An archive of the Digital Media Mash Up can be found on CIMA’s website at http://cima.ned.org/tools-and-resources/digital-media-mash. Sign up for the DMM here
Media News – a daily list of news articles on media development and press freedom. An archive of Media News articles is available at http://cima.ned.org/tools-and-resources/daily-media-news. Sign up for the Media News here.
CIMA’s website (www.cima.ned.org) contains a number of other resources for those interested in media development, including detailed country profiles examining the state of independent media around the world, an 1,100 items bibliographic database, a comprehensive list of media development organizations, full videos of CIMA events, and all of CIMA’s publications.
“We often focus on highlighting successes in our field–the use of technology in social change and international social development–but it’s no secret that many projects just don’t work.” –Katrin Verclas, MobileActive
In the world of international development–whether it be in media, information and communications technology, infrastructure, or other fields–competition for funding is fierce, especially in times of economic uncertainty. This contributes to an environment where failure is kept secret, while even the tiniest developments that mimic success are hailed as achievements in reports to donors and organizational boards of directors. Organizations that compete for limited resources do not want to share their failures for fear of losing funding to others in their field. Fail sharing, however, could help these organizations avoid duplicating mistakes, saving them much time, money, and energy.
MobileActive understands this. That is why on December 14, 2011, the organization hosted FAILFaire, bringing together technologists and NGOs to talk about failed development projects. The participants were diverse; representatives came from such organizations as Witness.org, World Lung Foundation, and UNICEF, among others.
The inaugural FAILFaire took place on April 14, 2010, and it was anything but a failure; last week’s event was the fourth in the series. The second FAILFaire was held in August 2010 and was featured in the New York Times. The World Bank hosted the third event in Washington, D.C. in October 2011, the first time it had been held outside New York City. Slate was there to embrace failure with about one hundred people from the international development community. FAILFaire DC inspired the World Bank to conduct its own internal FAILFaire, which prompted some advice for conducting fail sharing events.
Read MobileActive’s wrapup of the latest FAILfaire event: The Top Ten Ways to Fail in Tech for Social Change.
Other fail sharing examples:
- Chris Fabian of UNICEF writes about his “failure to incubate an innovation inside UNICEF.”
- The National Democratic Institute recognizes the importance of talking about failure in its posts Failing Successfully and Practice Makes Perfect, or How We Fail Early and Succeed Late.
- Another fail sharing initiative is Admitting Failure by Engineers Without Borders, an organization that has gone so far as to publish an annual report on its failures.
- Earlier this year, the development blog Tales from the Hood held a discussion about failure: The Second Aid Blog Forum: Admitting Aid Failure?
- Share your failures here!
So it seems development organizations are beginning to realize that talking about failures is as important as talking about successes. That said, has the buzz about FAILFaire hit the media development field? The Columbia Journalism Review published an interesting piece back in August 2010 entitled We Need a FailFaire for Journalism Startups. CJR asked “What if journalists had their own FailFaire?” In the media development field, there is a lot of talk about collaboration, particularly on standards for monitoring and evaluation, but has the question “What if media development organizations had their own FailFaire?” been uttered?
Perhaps it is time to ask.
What do you think?
One can imagine the clack clack of a typewriter punching in information about opportunities for journalists onto crisp sheets of paper, which were then Xeroxed (back then, everyone said “Xerox” for copy), hand-stuffed into envelopes, stamped, and mailed. Eventually, fax machines eliminated the need to copy, stuff, and mail, but faxing still required a lot of time. These were the early days of IJNet.
Today, the miracle of the Internet and mobile technology provide IJNet’s creator, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the ability to reach the entirety of the world’s networked population. Reaching over 185 countries, IJNet, an online space for all things journalism, has seen a significant increase in its web traffic since its relaunch a year ago . The site publishes training and networking opportunities for journalists, tips on tools and innovations in journalism, and news and commentary about global media. Journalists from across the globe–whether they are professional, aspiring, or citizen journalists–can find this information in seven languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Persian, Russian, and Portuguese.
Founded in the mid-eighties, IJNet has evolved with the rapid technological advances of our time, and social media is an important part of the IJNet strategy. You can find IJNet on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Sina Weibo in the various IJNet languages.
Examples of IJNet content:
- Opportunities: Exchange program open for journalists [U.S., Russia]
- Tools: UMapper: an easy mapping tool for journalists on deadline
- Blog: How a volunteer news brigade broke through Libya’s Internet blackout
A new feature on IJNet is the “journalist of the month,” where journalists from across the globe talk about their work and how they use IJNet. This month’s winner is Paromita Pain from India. Read about her here: http://ijnet.org/stories/ijnet-journalist-month-paromita-pain
IJNet is part of ICFJ’s arsenal of journalist tools and programs, including ICFJ Anywhere, a site for online journalism courses worldwide, Knight International Journalism Fellowships, reports and toolkits, and ICFJ’s training programs, which are bringing journalists across the globe into the digital age to increase the flow of quality news.
The discovery of fire changed the world. It allowed human beings to move to colder regions, cook food to prevent disease, and protected them from wild animals, giving the species a kind of primitive freedom.
On December 17, 2010, fire changed the world again when a frustrated vegetable vendor ignited himself and secured a place in world history books. He was the spark that set the flame that has come to be known as the “Arab Spring.”
The information flow that reached the world during these events is well-documented. Some have referred to a “Facebook Revolution.” Now that the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt have fallen, media outlets in both countries have proliferated. Improving the media environment is vital to establishing stable democracies in these countries.
Asma Ghribi, Dina Sadek, and Magdy Samaan are young journalists who are part of these new media environments. They have just completed fellowships with World Affairs Institute and offered their advice on how international media development organizations can help journalists in Tunisia and Egypt.
Asma Ghribi works for Tunisia Live (http://www.tunisia-live.net), an English-language news website that reports on Tunisia. The site seeks to have Tunisian reporters provide news about the country to the English-speaking world rather than leaving the task to foreign reporters. Asma reports on Tunisian politics, a topic that was taboo under the Ben Ali regime. She would like to see the country address the dearth of quality political reporting that could be remedied with training on how to interview political leaders, investigative reporting, and how to report on politics objectively.
The greatest threat to Tunisia Live is not censorship or harassment, but sustainability of the site. Demand is not high within Tunisia for news in English, which makes advertising sales difficult. Tunisia Live is one of many news outlets that faces the issue of sustainability, an issue with which the fellows would like the international community to help.
Across the Sahara, Dina Sadek works as a freelance journalist in Egypt. The challenges facing journalists in post-Mubarak Egypt have been enormous, as the harassment, arrest, and detention of journalists and bloggers is commonplace. Notable cases are Alaa Abdel Fattah, a well-known blogger and activist, Maikel Nabil, who has been on a hunger strike since August, and most recently, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who suffered two broken arms at the hands of authorities.
Egyptian journalists face numerous challenges, but freelancers have additional problems. They are not allowed to be members of the Journalists Syndicate, are poorly paid, and receive none of the benefits journalists in the syndicate enjoy. There is not even a word for “freelance” in the Arabic language.
Egyptian journalist Magdy Samaan of Al-Shorouk Al-Jadid (http://www.shorouknews.com) says local media development is vital to the establishment of strong media institutions. Egyptian media is centralized in Cairo, and a dearth of trustworthy local news leaves many without the ability to learn about local issues. Training for local journalists, editors, and managers, especially in radio, is needed.
How can the international donor community help? For starters, journalists in Tunisia and Egypt need training on the role of media in a democratic society. Training can put journalists on the path to professionalism and its components of ethics and objectivity. The three young journalists agree that financial and administrative training, tech training for journalists and media managers, and capacity building for media NGOs and associations are also important.
So what are international media development organizations doing in Egypt and Tunisia? Some examples:
- Institute on War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) provides safety and identity protection training.
- International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) conducts training for local journalists in places like Minia and Alexandria, supports citizen journalists, and has two Knight Fellows working on investigative reporting and Hacks/Hackers projects. The organization also conducts “town hall” trainings but finds it challenging to identify who needs this training.
- Internews conducts capacity building training for media-related NGOs.
- Reporters Without Borders lends helmets and safety equipment, but the costs to ship from Paris are limiting.
- The International Research and Exchange Board’s (IREX) Media Development Program (MDP) works with media outlets and training institutes to improve the professionalism and sustainability of Egypt’s media sector. MDP offers training, consulting, and equipment assistance to Egyptian print and electronic media as well as to universities and other media support organizations.
- The newly launched Journalism Foundation is conducting a media training course for Tunisian journalists.
- For information about NED programs in media development, click here.
These programs are working toward the ultimate goal of the so-called Arab Spring: lighting the flame of liberty. But there is much work to be done. Fortunately, passionate young journalists like Asma, Dina, and Magdy are there to carry the torch.