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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

From Big Brother to Mr. Murdoch to Mr. Burns, the media saturate our lives. Here, we decode, explain and debate the media we rely upon for democracy - and entertainment.

The link tax threatens the internet as we know it

The EU Commission's proposed copyright directive poses a threat to the internet's fundamental interconnectedness.

How the BBC can create a better digital public sphere

The BBC’s remit is not just broadcast. It has the power to improve our experiences online, and to realise the digital public sphere we want.

A radical proposal to preserve the BBC’s independence

To safeguard the BBC’s independence decisions over the Licence Fee should be taken away from politicians and handed over to a new independent statutory body.

Break big media monopolies and help new journalism projects—poll

Amid saturation media coverage of the coming UK general election, corporate control of big news organisations goes unquestioned. Yet if the public could vote on that, they'd change it.

China vs Facebook: intimate rivals

The Chinese state and the United States company are engaged in an epic if undeclared contest over control and wealth-creation, says Kerry Brown.

A very British Marxist - and his son

Britain's most vehement conservative newspaper, in the course of an assault on Ralph Miliband, father of the Labour Party leader, accused the Belgian-born academic of having "hated" the country he found refuge in and fought for. Martin Shaw offers both a personal and political take on the ensuing controversy. 

Spain: national television, government tool?

The Spanish government's  determination to manipulate public television and treat viewers as idiots is backfiring. Liz Cooper reports on the response of the private sector, backed by social networks and free press

From Morsi to Sisi: the evolution of targeting journalists in Egypt

One of the only consistencies in Egypt, from the Mubarak era through to the SCAF period to Morsi’s rule to the tumultuous summer of 2013, has been encroachments on press freedom and attacks on journalists.  But there have been subtle shifts in how journalists have been targeted, and attacks are becoming more systematic.

Retake your privacy

The US can read your emails because you let them. Demand privacy – but take it back first.

Dimon Don't Cry

The Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, doesn't like his online nickname “Dimon,” but whatever we think of Dimon’s playground problems how does one stand up to online bullies? And why are so many of them Russian?

The two worlds of Viktor Yanukovych’s Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Yanukovych has completed his takeover of his country’s TV channels, and is making inroads into the internet. As Ukraine faces a choice of whether to align itself with Europe or Eurasia, Sergii Leshchenko wonders if there is a way back. 

The future of Russia's i-curtain

Hot on the heels of a new law establishing a register of forbidden sites, Russian authorities are now promoting a system of 'virtual' borders and international supervision. Their proposal has so far failed to find significant support, but Russia will keep trying, says Irina Borogan

Afghan Voice Radio: The frontline of a ‘new’ Afghanistan

All around the world, Afghan youth who have fled abroad are investing in online media and sports as vehicles for civic participation and peace, says Zubair Gharghasht.

Radio Liberty making waves: have no lessons from the past been learnt?

The imminent withdrawal of Radio Liberty from medium wave broadcasting has dented the image of American public democracy, which is perceived as kowtowing to the autocratic will of the Kremlin. The outcry has, predictably, been ferocious. Kristina Gorelik looks back at the Soviet and more recent past.

The end of ‘Liberty’

In Soviet days foreign radio stations were a lifeline for people seeking another point of view. They continued broadcasting after the collapse of the USSR, though the BBC Russian Service programmes went online only in 2009. Now US-funded Radio Liberty is closing its doors. Mumin Shakirov, a special correspondent made redundant by the closure, reflects on the passing of an age. 

WikiLeaks and network-era news

The WikiLeaks storm of 2010 seems to be spent. But as a symptom of what is happening to journalism the WikiLeaks phenomenon carries profound significance, says Charlie Beckett.

Russian journalists: poor, venal… but (usually) honest

Journalism in Russia has never been easy, but today the complications are many. If you write to order, you may be financially better off but you will be despised. If you are honest, then you can end up risking life and limb. But despite the dangers there are still journalists prepared to stand up and be counted, says Mikhail Loginov.

Barrack Hussein Obama … (1) Holds an Active Estonian Passport! (2) Covertly Dates Britney Spears! (3) Cheats at Lawn Croquet! … and Now, You Can Too!

The tide of news swill from the US presidential race becomes weirder and more pervasive as falsehoods and media stunts are passed off as truth and gain a life of their own

Cinema, citizenship and the promise of the internet: a personal view from the Third World

Piracy is typically portrayed as the vice of only those who wish to steal media for the sake of self-indulgent entertainment. But 'file sharing' is also, for some, the only means of gaining access to educational material or information censored by oppressive governments, let alone revolutionary inspiration

Law & Order, take two

The successful New York-set crime series Law & Order has generated numerous spin-offs, remakes and reworkings. A coincidental showing of the same episode in its US and UK versions offers David Elstein, a devotee of the original, the chance to make a scene-by-scene comparison. Such an analysis, he says, confirms the superior quality of Dick Wolf's show and suggests that this is symptomatic of a wide gap in the creative cultures of US and UK drama.

Janusz Palikot’s ‘Cannabis Stunt’ Overshadowed a More Complex Debate about Drug Policy Reform in Poland

Palikot’s symbolic gesture played into the hands of a media that is eager to demonize the decriminalization campaign. The symbol however overshadowed a more complex debate around the decriminalization of cannabis and other illicit drugs in Poland.

Japan, the earthquake and the media

The worst disaster in Japan since the second world war hit the country's north-east coastal region on 11 March 2011. The combination of tsunami and nuclear crisis presented the media with great practical problems and ethical concerns. Wataru Sawamura, an experienced journalist with the leading newspaper the Asahi Shimbun, reflects on how he and his colleagues sought to fulfil their professional responsibilities as the tragedy unfolded.

Jimmy Wales or Kim Dotcom - is anti-SOPA about fundamental principles or competing commercial interests?

In this podcast, Tony Curzon Price talks to Albert Wenger, partner at Union Square Ventures, the venture capital fund behind a lot of the most innovative and visible web companies of today, to try to understand: is anti-SOPA activism more about principle or about the competing interests of big Tech vs. big Entertainment

Intellectuals against the public sphere: how to do debate better than Evgeny Morozov's tear-down

Evgeny Morozov, an engaging thinker whom we have enjoyed publishing on openDemocracy, produced an intemperate review of a peer's book. Here, that peer responds in an exemplary way. An attempt to shut down conversation has, in the best sort of Streisand effect, back-fired and opened it up.

Unruly politics: atomised movements, activist individuals and clientilism

Do new social media create new forms of citizen action? Jenny Morgan reports on a knowledge exchange conference in the Hague

The net of hatred: after Utøya

The public debate in Norway following the massacre of 22 July 2011 is taking shape. A key focus is the obsessional and hate-filled language that pervades and dominates online discussion, says Thomas Hylland Eriksen.

A democracy of journalists

The stramash over abuse of power and standards at Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp should reinvigorate the idea of journalists’ self-regulation, says Neal Ascherson.

The foreign correspondent: James Cameron, 1911-85

A voice of wry observation and quiet authority that made humane sense of distant events to a domestic public helped James Cameron become the most respected international journalist in post-1945 Britain. But is there room for his world-reporting craft in a very different media age, asks David Hayes.

Liberation technology: dreams, politics, history

The doctrinal commitment to new cyber and social technologies as a means of solving political problems needs to learn from the past and take a more realistic view, says Armine Ishkanian.

The freedom cloud

The tools that help Arab democracy protesters also extend the reach of three United States corporations. The power of Facebook, Google, and Twitter represents an appropriation of the hacker-utopian ideals of the early internet, says Becky Hogge. The challenge to those who still uphold these ideals is to recover a true freedom path.

Is it time for Murdoch's empire to be reined in?: A fascinating debate on News Corp's bid to take over BSkyB

Is this the moment to halt the expansion of Richard Murdoch's media empire in the UK? An OurKingdom post, which presents the media mogul's bid for full ownership of the country's most powerful commercial broadcaster as a threat to our democracy, has sparked an urgent debate between the author, Oliver Huitson, and David Elstein, an influential figure in the British media industry.

Egyptian blogs: reporting the news unfit to print

The Egyptian blogosphere has gained real influence in the political process

Red lenses on a rainbow of revolutions

Given continued strikes in Iran and the freeing of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, neither the Burmese nor Iranian struggle for democracy is a story that should be characterized as an example of a failed movement and successful repression. But it is up to us - the global audience - to understand our responsibility in this dynamic.

20, 2000 and 2: the three shadows of Facebook

The eternal campus of the global middle class; the solution to the injunction to love ones fellow; a riskless replacement to reality. You could not have designed Facebook better to opiate 21st Century occidentals

A free media: Tasneem Khalil’s project

The work of a Bangladeshi journalist offers a different perspective on some of the professional and ethical dilemmas raised by the WikiLeaks project, say Timothy Sowula & David Hayes.
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