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Thursday:  July 31, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in media (6)

Saturday
Apr302011

Obama Honours Journalists Under Attack Around World (NEWS BRIEF)

US President Barack Obama. CREDIT: White House(HN, April 30, 2011) US President Barack Obama, pausing during a mostly humour-filled White House Correspondents Dinner this evening, defended the right of journalists to do their job around the world.

Speaking in front of 3,000 guests at the annual event in Washington, D.C., Obama said journalists are increasingly under threat.

Said Obama: "In the last months we have seen journalists threatened, arrested, beaten, attacked, and in some cases even killed - simply for doing their best to bring us the story..giving people a voice and holding people accountable.

"And through it all we have seen daring men and women risk their lives for the simple idea that no one should be silenced and everyone deserves to know the truth."

He said reporting by journalists is "especially important in times of challenge - like the moment America and the world is facing now."

The US President paid tribute to "those that have been lost as a consequence of extraordinary reporting that they have done over recent weeks. They help too to defend our freedoms and allow democracy to flourish."

According to the figures collected by Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization that fights for the rights, freedom, and protection of journalists worldwide, 25 journalists were killed in 2002, 64 in 2005, 87 in 2007, and 18 since the beginning of the year.

Earlier this month, award-winning photo-journalist and documentary film-maker Tim Hetherington and a colleague were killed while reporting on the ongoing conflict in Libya.

- HUMNEWS staff

 

Thursday
Apr282011

Meddling Media: How media plays a role in shaping Sub-Saharan Africa (REPORT)

By Vanessa Yurkevich in New York

(HN, April 28, 2011) - Ndimyake Mwakalyelye was a reporter working for Voice of America (VOA) during the presidential elections in Zimbabwe two years ago.Sanjukta Roy and Michael Behrman at the Columbia panel. CREDIT: Vanessa Yurkevich

The government quickly realized people were turning to VOA for their election information and that’s when the government blocked the station’s air waves. “Someone had found a way to penetrate the system,” Mwakalyelye said, referring to the media’s role in the election. After spending what she calls “a small fortune” on the right equipment to override the block, VOA’s listenership went from hundreds of thousands of people to millions. “The jamming” by the government, she said, was “creating a need to broadcast more.”

Zimbabwe is one of nearly a dozen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where there is no freedom of press. At a conference at Columbia University in New York Wednesday, journalists working in Africa, policy makers and researchers discussed the power and restriction of media in the region.

Mwakalyelye, who sat on a panel, said the landscape of journalism is evolving, and bloggers, citizen journalism and social media are playing larger roles in inciting change. “Its power is unbelievable but it needs to be in good hands” Mwakalyelye says. “Uganda tried to block Twitter and Facebook during the elections” she recalls. “People saw the revolution it caused in Egypt and Tunisia.”

“Freedom of the press is necessary, but not sufficient to ensure a healthy and effective media sector,” said economist Sanjukta Roy, who is currently working on the Media Map Project with Internews, which helps to support independent media and access to information.

In partnership with the World Bank Institute, the project will provide guidance to NGO’s and donors on how investments in local media might serve to advance a country’s governmental and developmental objectives.

Roy explained that in order for press freedom to thrive, the country must also be financially viable and establish an educational system with developmental goals and basic access to food. She said professional journalists and a plurality of sources are essential to a successful media.

Michael Behrman studies quantitative methods in media at Columbia University and said, “Press freedom is an important component in maintaining a long term democracy.” For example, he said. the democratic nation of Mali has one of the freest media in Africa and the government protects freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, Behrman, citing a country like Niger, which never fully capitalized on its a freedom of press during a democratic period in the 1990s, said the country has seen its press freedom deteriorate significantly.

Behrman points out that Africa has the least amount of data regarding the media, and panelists agreed there is currently no means to measure the quality of the content being produced, in part because it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, propaganda from truth.

Behrman said while the lack of data is troubling, it is exactly the reason it’s not easy to predict whether the uprisings in the Middle East could be paralleled in Sub-Saharan Africa. The best way to determine what can cause such a social media and political revolution is to study what happened in the Middle East and use it as an indicator for other regions.

“It would be good if there were such data so that you can get a glimpse and a better understanding” Behrman said. “It would be a natural experiment.”

Friday
Apr222011

“Deployment of Solo TV News Crews to Foreign Conflict Zones Problematic” - Indeed (PERSPECTIVE)

By Maggie Padlewska

(HN, April 23, 2011) News-gathering technology is without doubt becoming more accessible, portable, and inconspicuous.

More and more journalists are trained and expected to file stories for multiple mediums (print, radio, television, and the web), once all considered independent of each other. Major networks are increasingly focused on cost-effectiveness, thus cutting back on resources and much of its “human” workforce. The obvious result: fewer people, doing more.

It is no surprise, therefore, that major networks are now toying with the idea of deploying a one-person "crew" to report from conflict zones. This was expected.

The question is: is it “too soon” or flat out “problematic”?

The risk factor involved reporting from a conflict zone is not new nor, sadly, one that is likely to diminish miraculously over time.

According to the figures collected by Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization that fights for the rights, freedom, and protection of journalists worldwide, 25 journalists were killed in 2002, 64 in 2005, 87 in 2007, and 18 since the beginning of the year.  

So, should deep-pocketed networks deploy “Backpack Journalists” (BPJs) or 'Multi-Media Journalists' (MMJs) to report, single-handedly from conflict zones without any safeguards in place? No. Should BPJs avoid reporting from conflict zones? Not necessarily.

MMJs have been presented with a significant and unique set of opportunities: lightweight mobility, rapid field production (laptop editing and story filing via the Internet), and most importantly, as noted by Professor Stacey Woelfel during the National Association of Broadcaster panel discussion, a dramatic decrease with respect to the “intimidation factor” for interviewees. Thus, there is much to be gained from this independent form of reporting. Padlewska on the job as a MMJ in Panama

As for reaping the benefits? The key perhaps, is therefore, to strike the proper balance. There is strength (and safety!) in numbers – true.

Now apply that to independent MMJs gathering in a conflict zone…and what do we have? The best of both worlds perhaps…

Sadly, however, while “numbers” may increase the odds of safety (such as providing video journalists and photographers with additional sets of eyes to watching each others’ backs as noted by veteran news-photographer Kevin Benz), they do not guarantee safety.

The tragic loss of photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros in Libya earlier this week, is another grim and harrowing reminder of the danger and risks involved in conflict zone reporting; be it as an independent or a member of a crew.

Hence, while deploying solo MMJs to conflict zones may be tempting for major networks (highly effective and cheap), now, or later, is not the time for cutbacks that could further jeopardize the safety and security of those who, courageously and selflessly, step in harm’s way to report on the horrors of conflict without first putting much thought into the ‘real cost’ of “cost-effectiveness”.

Maggie Padlewska is an independent video journalist and founder of the One Year One World initiative; a solo journey around the globe to document and share the stories of people who lack the resources to share their views and ideas with the world (oneyearoneworld.com). She has worked as television news reporter, host, director, producer, editor and writer for both national and international networks for more than a decade. She is a fearless multilingual nomad with several degrees, a passion for storytelling, and a relentless curiosity of the world. 

Thursday
Feb172011

Authorities in Bahrain, Elsewhere Intensify Crackdown on Foreign Journalists (UPDATED FEB 19 1255GMT)

(HN, February 19, 2011) --- Across the Middle East and North Africa - journalists continue to find themselves in the line of fire.

Just yesterday in the Bahraini capital, Manama, Michael Slackman and Sean Patrick Farrell of The New York Times were recording video when a helicopter began firing in their direction. The two were amoing the few foreign journalists allowed into the tiny Gulf kingdom -  more than a dozen were detained for hours upon arrival at Bahrain International Airport.

Commenting on the targeting of his colleagues in Bahrain, Times colunist Nicholas Kristof said: "It was another example of Bahrain targeting journalists, as King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa attempts to intimidate or keep out witnesses to his repression."

 

Nancy Yousseff, a journalist with McClatchy news agency has been held at least 15 hours at Bahrain's airport. Other detained journalists are said to be from Reuters, Time, BBC, France 24 and several Japanese news outlets.

The crackdown on journalists in recent weeks in countries in the Middle East and North Africa ranging from Egypt to Lybia to Syria underscores a growing risk being faced by working journalists covering widening street protests in the region, says the New York-based watchdog group Committee to Protect Journalists (see report below).

In Yemen, where protests are also gaining momentum - according to a HUMNEWS correspondent on the scene - the CPJ says at least four photojournalists were attacked, beaten, and had their cameras confiscated.

A CBS News crew arrived in Bahrain on Friday morning but some members were held at the airport by security officials, along with as many as 15 other foreign journalists, according to the Associated Press and other sources.

(The HUMNEWS correspondent reported at 1130GMT today that snipers have been stationed in the centre of Sana'a and that Skype has been blocked).

Also this afternoon, as Bahrani authorities were moving for a second time against protesters with live fire, Al Jazeera reported a journalist for the Daily Telegraph has also been shot.

In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website (بینیتز ) was shot and injured yesterday while covering anti-government protests against unemployment and corruption, the CPJ says.

"Governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa cannot deny their citizens coverage of these momentous events across the region," Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator said today. "Local and international media must be allowed to cover the news."

In the CPJ report released yesterday, Attacks on the Press 2010, street protests were identified as a growing risk for journalists.

"Deaths in combat-related crossfire and in dangerous assignments such as street protests constituted a larger portion of the 2010 toll than usual," the report said.

In the street protests in Cairo, Egypt this month at least one journalist was killed and several injured and detained.

The CPJ report cites Bahrain as a country where "authorities have used harassment, threats, and restrictions on movement to limit independent coverage on sensitive issues."

It added: "The effect has been to conceal controversial activities and flawed policies, suppress political opposition, and settle scored with critics."

The CPJ says authorities in Bahrain have used the excuse of anti-terrorism to arrest hundreds of people - including at least two journalistic bloggers "who has been critical of government policies that marginalize the country's Shiite majority."

---HUMNEWS staff

Saturday
Sep182010

South African Media Gets Low Marks on Reporting on the Economy and the Poor

The media panel held on Friday in Johannesburg CREDIT: M. Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS(HN, September 18, 2010) - The South African media do a generally poor job of covering crucial business stories, often ignoring news that affects the poor.

 “We wake up once people start burning tires,” said Mondli Makhanya, Editor-in-Chief of Avusa Media - South Africa’s largest newspaper group - told a media roundtable Friday in Johannesburg.

The panel of media proprietors, academics and civil society leaders said that, amid the global economic crisis - which has hit southern Africa hard - print publications have tended to focus on the “same old talking heads,” using outdated rhetoric and stale economic propositions.

“We are pretty bad at covering the economy,” said Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail and Guardian, one of the most respected weekly in the country. “And we are not fundamentally good at examining the lives of the poor.” He added that an impediment for newspaper proprietors is that they rarely have serious economists on the newsroom floor to tap when a good business story presents itself.

Said Dawes: “Those who are serious economists are quickly picked up by the wire services or the banks.”

Representatives of civil society said that, even though they have many good story ideas and access to content and data, they feel roundly shut-out from the country’s newsrooms. There was general agreement that in this day and age, journalists are resorting to “desk-top journalism” - rarely leaving the comfort of their buildings, instead using the telephone to tap the wisdom of a closed circle of sources.

To be sure, there is no lack of selection when it comes to the print landscape in South Africa. The country supports at least 655 consumer magazines, 700 business-to-business publications, 470 community papers, 21 daily papers and 24 major weeklies.

Some outlets, like the Mail Guardian, only have 65 staff members - including cleaners and receptionists, and yet manage to do a fairly decent job reporting. Dawes said that, even after deep cuts, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have 800 and 1200 staff members respectively.

In media, size doesn't matter said one editor. The state-run South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has more than 1000 staff members and “no one can remember the last time they broke a story.”

An example of a series on the marginalized run by the Cape TimesAt least two newspaper representatives said that aside from opening up their opinion pages to more sophisticated debate, town hall meetings have proven to be a satisfactory way to draw ordinary voices into the discourse on the economy. The editor of the Cape Times, Alide Dasnois, said her Cape Town-based newspaper has devoted hundreds of column inches to probing economic stories, many of which focus on the poor. Some papers are even partnering with NGOs in order to get marginalized voices heard.

As in other economic forums in the region, speakers agreed that there are many good stories of entrepreneurialism on the continent, but that few get covered. One that was concerned a shoe factory in Durban where employees re-engineered the manufacturing process to stay competitive with China.

Most panelists agreed that South African print media tend to be obsessed with reporting on political stories, and that when it comes to economic stories, the easiest ones are those dealing with companies.

One speaker said there is a tendency among media to “celebrate wealth” - by running rich lists and other special on the economic elite.

Some of the comments from women in the audience raised the issue of a contradiction around the issue of rich lists, saying they deflects attention away from the have nots.

Said one audience member after the panel: “The rich lists set up a false dream that everybody buys into, and diverts attention from communalism. The question is: how do we redistribute wealth. This wealth reporting diverts attention away from it and screws up the morale obligation of the state to take care of the have-nots.”

The entrenched media practitioners conceded they have much room for improvement. Said Makhanya: “There is a huge economic story in South Africa we could be covering better - and that story is corruption.” He added that while investigative political reporting is made easier by the plethora of whistle blowers in government, the same does not hold true on corporate stories.

Media chiefs said what also hurts good economic reporting is poor handling of data, especially desegregated numbers that show who the poor are and where. The data speaks and tells the stories.

What under-analyzed data hides is inequality gaps and inequality is what is breeding social instability and crime in the country, said one of the panelists.

Concern was also voiced about the quality of foreign media reporting on South Africa. One panelist said that while super growth economies like Brazil and Malaysia get positive stories, South Africa is often seen through a critical, narrow lens.

The media roundtable was organized by the non-profit news agency, The South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Reporting by Nadira Omarjee and Michael Bociurkiw in Johannesburg

Wednesday
Apr282010

As Killings of Journalists Rise, More Local Reporters Targeted

(HN, April 28, 2010) - Most deaths of journalists are now among locals covering sensitive stories such as high-level crime and corruption for national media.

The finding was announced on the eve of World Press Freedom Day by the Geneva-based International News Safety Institute (INSI). It said that so far this year, at least 42 journalists have been killed worldwide - with April the bloodiest month fort media in five years, with 17 journalists killed.

With a journalist being killed every 1.5 days in April, INSI said today the numbers have reached "shocking new levels."

Said INSI Director Rodney Pinder: "Freedom shrieks whenever a journalist is kiled for doing their job."

But it is local journalists that are bearing the brunt of the violence against media representatives. So far this year, seven journalists have been killed in Honduras, six in Mexico, and four in Pakistan. Three died in Colombia and Nigeria and one each in Nepal, Venezuela, Cyprus, Russia, Ecuador and Turkey.

The latest targeted killing of a journalist occurred April 25 in Lagos, Nigeria. Edo Sule Ugbagwu, 42, a senior judiciary correspondent working for The Nation newspaper, was shot in his dwelling. His gruesome death occurred just a year after the killing of another Nigerian journalist, Bayo Ohu, assistant Politics Editor of the Lagos-based Guardian Newspaper.

It is not clear whether fewer foreign correspondents are being targeted due to the decline of foreign news coverage by major western news organizations.

On May 3 - World Press Freedom Day - INSI is calling for a minute silence in newsrooms around the world.

Staff, agencies, INSI