Journalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/8347/all cached version 18/06/2018 09:24:40 en A Syrian game of thrones: infotainment and New York Times’ spectacular coverage https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/rayyan-dabbous/syrian-game-of-thrones-infotainment-and-new-york-times-spectac <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">The ‘catchiest’&nbsp;</span><em>New York Times</em><span style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal;">’ articles about Syria since 2011, reveal an obsession with the spectacle, a failure in understanding the conflict itself but success in understanding the spectators of the conflict.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36003828.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36003828.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image of the Barmah Research and Development Center in Damascus, Syria before an airstrike by forces from the United States, Great Britain and France on April 14, 2018. Satellite Image 2018 DigitalGlobe via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>If infotainment, a portmanteau of information and entertainment, is indeed a twenty-first century phenomenon, then one must wonder whether the Syrian war’s world coverage, best championed by the&nbsp;</span><em>New York Times</em><span>, follows the rules of good reporting or good storytelling. </span></p><p><span>If the ascendency of&nbsp;</span><em>Game of Thrones</em><span>&nbsp;and other high-concept shows has informed us on anything about our televisual consumption habits, it is that the&nbsp;</span><em>Netflix Generation&nbsp;</em><span>loves the spectacle. Expensive. Fast-paced. Full of action.&nbsp;</span><em>How could old people watch excruciatingly-slow silent movies?&nbsp;</em></p><p><em></em><span>With our decreasing attention spans, it is no wonder that our entertainment needs leak over our news consumption. This need for sensationalism that is worth one’s time is problematic, especially with regards to Syria, whose conflict must be solved, contrary to television shows, in as few episodes as possible. </span></p><p><span>My findings, based on a reflective look into the ‘catchiest’&nbsp;</span><em>New York Times</em><span>’ articles about Syria since 2011, reveal an obsession with the spectacle, with the incredible and the extraordinary, all traits true to the infotainment theory. I have ended up with four kinds of spectacles that the&nbsp;</span><em>New York Times</em><span>&nbsp;has, wittingly or not, tapped into in their coverage of Syria’s own theatre of war, whether it is the spectacle of plot-twisting alliances in the conflict, the thrilling debates it inspires, its elements of suspense and need for cliffhangers, and finally, its cathartic apocalyptic depictions. Is not the latest episode of Syria perfect before watching&nbsp;</span><em>The Walking Dead</em><span>&nbsp;or&nbsp;</span><em>Westworld</em><span>, our favorite post-apocalyptic shows?</span></p><h2 class="western"><strong>Spectacle of politics and alliances</strong></h2><p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/01/world/middleeast/the-syria-conflicts-overlapping-agendas-and-competing-visions.html">“Whom Is Fighting Whom in Syria”</a>&nbsp;asked the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;in September 2015 in the headline of their piece. Besides applauding them for the wonderful chiasmus of the title, which, if Syria was indeed a coded novel, would be enthusiastically seen to equate whom with whom, and fighting with Syria, it is the presentation of the article’s content that catches the eye the most. Similar to the way that the first minute of a television show is often dedicated to reminding viewers of previous highlights, the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;reserves one block for each country involved in the conflict (United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, etc.), with three identical labels underneath each country’s name;&nbsp;<em>Backs</em>: x,&nbsp;<em>Opposes</em>: y,&nbsp;<em>How It Is Fighting</em>: z.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">It is interesting to see the omission of a final label,&nbsp;<em>Why It Is Fighting</em></p><p>Thus, the article becomes an attempt to sketch out the various superpowers involved in the conflict, and it is interesting to see the omission of a final label,&nbsp;<em>Why It Is Fighting.</em>&nbsp;An extra note about the diverging interests around Syria, which can logically be deemed as driving forces of the conflict, is cut out. Perhaps not intentionally, but at least conveniently to also add paragraphs about other countries less involved in the conflict, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, and the United Kingdom. </p><p>The emphasis in the article becomes precisely this obsession with producing an exciting trailer of some kind, which, because there is only so much it can portray of the full picture, restricts itself to introducing the audience to as many colorful characters as possible, rather than explaining why these characters are at odds. Number becomes important here, with the age-old rule of ‘the more, the merrier’ perfectly applying. </p><p>Also, what is up with calling the Syrian President “Mr. Assad” nine times in the article? Perhaps a title next to his name adds something to his characterization in the story. Too bad he is not a Count or a Lord.</p><h2 class="western"><strong>Spectacle of debate&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>Besides depicting Syria as a battleground for all the lords of our ring, the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;has successfully caught their readers’ attention by focusing a significant amount of their coverage on the moral crisis and need for intervention that the conflict must inspire in them. </p><p>These articles, judging from my collection, can be piled into two categories: indirect incitement based on what external parties are saying, with articles titled&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/07/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-weapons.html">“Syria Is Using Chemical Weapons Again, Rescue Workers Say,”</a>&nbsp;“<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/.../un-finds-deliberate-destruction-of-hospitals-in-syria.html">U.N. Finds ‘Deliberate’ Destruction of Hospitals in Syria</a>,” “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/.../syria-assad-obama-airstrikes-diplomats-memo.html">51 U.S. Diplomats Urge Strikes Against Assad in Syria</a>” or direct incitement based on what the media itself seems to be saying, with articles titled “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/08/26/is-an-attack-on-syria-justified">Is an Attack on Syria Justified? – Room for Debate</a>,” “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/27/opinion/5-reasons-to-intervene-in-syria-now.html">5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now</a>” or straight-to-the-point one “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/28/opinion/bomb-syria-even-if-it-is-illegal.html">Bomb Syria, Even If It’s Illegal</a>.” </p><p>Though the former category’s conservative headline could be regarded as more dangerous than the latter’s zeal precisely because of its suspicious conservatism (since the most dangerous propaganda is the one that does not seem like propaganda), my emphasis in this article about spectacle guides my reflection toward the titles directly inciting us to act. Indeed, “Is an Attack on Syria Justified? – Room for Debate” is interesting because it appears to be a forum for debate, which assesses both the pros and cons of intervening. </p><p>Yet the wording of the question, which is not a neutral “Is an Attack on Syria Justified or Unjustified?” somehow answers the question itself, with the standalone word “Justified” standing out the most in the title. It is no surprise that the one-sided debate morphed in the next article with the title “5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria,” which could be perfectly read along with other articles like “Five Reasons to Love Personal Progress,” “Five Reasons to Avoid Going Gluten-Free” or “Five Reasons To Wash Hands” – these are suggestions Google has given me to complete a “Five Reason To” phrase. </p><p>Exaggerations aside, one cannot dismiss the use of a “Five Reason To” format that the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;has chosen to use to discuss an intervention in Syria that would cause wreckage and collateral damage. It is not used to echo the similarly-worded titles mentioned previously but it does not either distance itself from them. For readership numbers’ sake, the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;would rather blend into your timeline and slide smoothly down regardless of your knowledge or impression of Syria. The last thing the media wants you to do is to mark its would-be disturbing “Why Don’t You Care About Syria?” titles as spam, forever lost in the merciless mechanisms of Facebook’s algorithms.</p><h2 class="western"><strong>Spectacle of suspense&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>The sensational titles and articles I have explored all feed from our desire with memorable catchphrases (bomb Syria!) and interesting plotlines (Saudi Arabia and Israel versus Iran? The enemy of my enemy is your friend?) but it is truly the suspense linking all their articles that create a much bigger impact to their readers. </p><p>Evidently, the multiple alliances in the conflict and their diverging interests leave room for perhaps television fans’ favorite hobby after an episode’s cliffhanger – speculation. Indeed, from titles such as “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/.../cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html">CIA Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Rebels”</a>to “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/.../in-shift-saudis-are-said-to-arm-rebels-in-syria.html">In Shift, Saudis Are Said to Arm Rebels in Syria</a>” one can notice the use of the word&nbsp;<em>said</em>, used usually for hearsay and gossip tabloids. Its use in a context of conflict becomes evidently more dangerous, especially since a giant media outlet like the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;has the means to either find confirmation for their claims or reject them altogether. But their choice to cover them nevertheless could be less about their brave attempt to blow the whistle on the subject matter and perhaps more embedded in the exciting nature of the uncertain.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">What the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;here does successfully is not understanding the conflict itself but understanding the spectators of the conflict</p><p>CIA agents with silencers in their suits deployed to Syria? Of course this is exciting. What the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;here does successfully is not understanding the conflict itself but understanding the spectators of the conflict, tapping into our own fetishes and fantasies, our own history of our imagination of covert missions so often used in the Cold War, and the Hollywood movies about the Cold War. </p><p>Cold war references are not the only tools used to strike our imagination as readers that remember history. Articles such as&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/.../syrian-rebels-tied-to-al-qaeda-play-key-role-in-war.html">“Syrian Rebels Tied to Al Qaeda Play Key Role in War”</a>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/.../north-korea-syria-chemical-weapons-sanctions.html">“U.N. Links North Korea to Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program”</a>&nbsp;tap even quicker into our collective imaginary, now zealously revisiting a post-9/11 climate and hearing once again another reckless US president drawing for us the axis of evil, sailing from North Korea to Iran and now Syria. </p><p>It is these past sensational imagery and speeches that the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>, willingly or unwittingly, taps into when it restricts its coverage of Syria to its broader, more spectacular context and the connotations that such a context leaves upon us, consciously or not. One would argue that it is important for the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;to cover such ‘coincidentally’ sensational aspects of the conflict. </p><p>Are the CIA really in Syria? Is Al Qaeda Still Present? Of course, but there is something to say about the choices that the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;makes in its limited possible coverage time of Syria. When it merely dwells upon the spectacular side of such covert activities, rather than condemning them all together, one begins to wonder whether the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;becomes excited in the discovery of who is inflicting harm rather than becoming appalled by the harm itself. </p><p>We are once again dictated by the laws of television shows and their suspenseful cliffhangers. Suppose the episode ends with a crime. If the victim is a secondary character or an extra, will you even think twice about them? No, because finding out the murderer’s identity is more exciting – so exciting that you will engage your friends on Twitter about it, and get more and more people excited to watch the show… or read the news.</p><h2 class="western"><strong>Spectacle of apocalypse&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>Plot-twisting rivalries, tough dilemmas, suspenseful plotline… all necessary ingredients for an exciting show. The one missing ingredient, though, is perhaps a classic ingredient – classic in the sense of the true classics, the Ancient Greeks. The true delight of&nbsp;<em>Oedipus Rex</em>, for example, is the sight of Oedipus rushing to his own demise in his search for King Laos’ murderer – the audience knows in advance that he is himself the murderer. It is this unfolding of an impending tragedy, looming apocalypse, that we have been obsessed to find in every story we read or watch. </p><p>The stakes must be high or else why bother? A whole kingdom or passionate love affair must be at risk. We need to be at once taught to love our characters and hate to lose them, love how bad events are unfolding and hate if no happy ending magically rises in the end, preferably at the last rolling minute.</p><p>We definitely see this key ingredient of successful storytelling in the coverage of Syria by the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>. Article titles such as “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/04/opinion/syrias-crumbling-pluralism.html">Syria’s Crumbling Pluralism</a>” in 2012 or “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/.../2016/.../isis-middle-east-arab-spring-fractured-lands.html">Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart</a>” in 2016 both link this idea of apocalypse with a reader’s existing idea of tragedy with regards to the Middle East as a whole:&nbsp;<em>New York Times’</em>&nbsp;articles contribute to an association between our imaginary of the Middle East from other conflicts with the special case of Syria.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The change of what Syria means to us is driven by the exciting plotline we have been spoon-fed since 2011</p><p>This idea of a region doomed to an apocalyptic fate is best exemplified in one of the most dramatic&nbsp;<em>New York Times’</em>&nbsp;titles:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/opinion/friedman-syria-is-iraq.html">“Syria Is Iraq.”</a>&nbsp;We are back to the famous chiasmus, but what this does here is not only equate Syria’s condition in the second decade of the twenty-first century with Iraq’s state in its first decade, but the headline also draws its power from all the connotations associated with Iraq: destruction, mayhem, apocalypse. Interestingly, this article is dated from 2012, before the explosion of the conflict. How to deem current affairs? By this point, you know who can word things best. I leave you with a final one from 2018.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/video/.../wolrd-war-one-week-syria.html">“For 8 Days, Syria Felt More Like World War III.”</a></p><p>Syria. This word, which a decade ago, at most connoted delicious food, now has a different meaning. Complicated. Devastating. Apocalyptic. The change of what Syria means to us is driven by the exciting plotline we have been spoon-fed since 2011, a plot about festive and beloved emperors eyeing that coveted province, a plot about the use of a hidden arsenal to change the turn of events, a plot about secrets and mysterious agents crossing borders, a plot about apocalypse. But what the plot is not, and cannot be about, is dead people. Because dead people cannot act. Because dead people cannot speak. Who else will be moving on our screens? Who else has to take action? Definitely not us. We are spectators after all.</p><p><strong>This article was first published by&nbsp;<a href="https://salonsyria.com/a-syrian-game-of-thrones-infotainment-and-new-york-times-spectacular-coverage/#.WwgW-S-B1p-">Salon Syria</a>&nbsp;on May 18, 2018.&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/darius-kamali/iraq-and-syria-of-memory-and-maps">Iraq and Syria: of memory and maps</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/richard-salame/reporting-syria-this-is-story-about-people">Reporting Syria: this is a story about people - an interview with Rania Abouzeid</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/mary-kaldor-christine-chinkin/doctrine-of-humanitarian-intervention-and-how-it-exposes-absence-of-an">The ‘Doctrine of Humanitarian Intervention’: and how it exposes the absence of any serious intention to help Syrians</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict media Journalism Rayyan Dabbous Mon, 28 May 2018 13:24:41 +0000 Rayyan Dabbous 118063 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reporting Syria: this is a story about people - an interview with Rania Abouzeid https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/richard-salame/reporting-syria-this-is-story-about-people <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A conversation&nbsp;with reporter Rania Abouzeid&nbsp;about&nbsp;practicing journalism, the role of media in the conflict, and the future of Syria.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Rania-Portrait-Colour.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Rania-Portrait-Colour.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rania Abouzeid. Picture by Dalia Khamissy. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Rania Abouzeid, the Lebanese-Australian reporter based in Beirut, has covered the uprising and subsequent conflict in Syria since the very beginning. Branded a foreign spy by the government of Bashar al-Assad in 2011, she has largely been confined to rebel-held areas.&nbsp;</p><p>Over the past seven years she has distinguished herself by being one of the few foreign reporters to work inside Syria. At considerable personal risk, she has observed and chronicled an incredible array of Syrians at home, on the battlefield, in the conference room, and in the smuggler’s truck. She’s profiled women, children, and men; civilians, rebel fighters, and al-Qaeda militants.&nbsp;</p><p>Her first book,&nbsp;<em>No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria</em>, was published in March and follows four Syrians over the course of five years inside and outside of Syria as their lives unfold and intersect. The result is a crucial testimony to the horrors and trials of the war, and a much needed return from international politics to Syrians themselves. It is also one of the relatively few accounts of the Syrian conflict that captures the perspectives of women.</p><p>Abouzeid is a reporter’s reporter: independent, courageous, and self-effacing. In our conversation she declined opportunities to opine. In what follows we talk about her journalistic process, the role of media in the conflict, and the future of Syria.</p><p><strong>Richard&nbsp;</strong><strong>Salame:&nbsp;</strong>Why did you write this book and at what point in the process did it take on the form we see in the final version?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Rania&nbsp;</strong><strong>Abouzeid:</strong>I started writing it in late 2015 and I was still reporting the last bits of the book at the time. It took me about 13–14 months to write. I wanted to focus it on the Syrians, for their voices and experiences to be front and center. But I also wanted to ground it in an investigation.&nbsp;</p><p>So the way I envisioned the book was that it would have two tracks. One of them was the very close to the ground personal narratives of what happened to a select group of people. And the other track would be the investigative element where I wanted to take readers into some of the backroom dealings so that readers could see how some of the wheeling and dealing affected those people on the ground. I knew that I wanted to do something like that from the beginning. And I didn’t want to be in the book in any way.&nbsp;</p><p>Then it was just a question of trying to [narrow it down], I mean I just had so much material, there were so many people I could’ve profiled and focused on and so much stuff that I hoped to get into the book. I always thought that a book meant more space and I found that&nbsp;itwasn’t the case at all. It was actually constricting in some ways, because the Syria story is just so large.&nbsp;</p><p>I make absolutely no claim that the book is a comprehensive story: I say that on page one and I say that in the notes. I try to make it clear that this is just a sliver of the story.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame</strong>: Now that the book is out in print it’s not something you can easily add to unless there’s a second edition with updated content. Are you still following up on these stories? Are you interested in extending them? How would you like to do that?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid:&nbsp;</strong>Yes, there will be an afterword in the paperback edition that will bring some of the stories up to date. I’m getting a lot of emails from people, from readers, who want to know what happens next to some of the characters. So the paperback edition will hopefully answer some of those questions. And yes I am still looking at the Syria story, I haven’t taken my eyesoff the Syria story even as I look at other parts of the Middle East and return to the broader region, which I had sort of shut out for a number of years as I focused on Syria.</p><p><strong>Salame</strong>: Are you still moving back and forth into rebel held territories as those become smaller geographically and tighter in terms of security?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: No, I haven’t been back since I published the book and that’s partly because I have assignments in other parts of the Middle East. It’s also because of the security element. I haven’t been to the majority-Kurdish parts of Syria, which are relatively easy to get into. But, Idlib for example, which is a place that I’m interested in, is very difficult to get into. Crossing the Turkish border is a life-and-death risk at this point, unless you’re taken on a press tour for a day trip. And I’m not interested in a day trip. I’m interested in a more immersive sort of reporting, I want to spend more time than that inside. But certainly it’s still on my radar. I’m still looking at getting into every side of Syria if I can. Because it’s still a very important story.</p><p><strong>Salame:&nbsp;</strong>Turning to some of the geopolitics that you’ve spent a lot of time with as well, you’ve said in other interviews that there’s no way for the opposition to overthrow Assad at this point. I’m wondering, in your opinion, are we seeing the end of the war?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: No, not in the sense that the conflict will end. I think that Syria is such a fragmented state with so many different players both local and international that sadly the bloodletting will likely continue for a while yet. But what I’ve said in other interviews is that the outcome, for all intents and purposes, has been decided in the sense that Assad isn’t going anywhere. The notion that “Assad must go” has largely been shelved because he’s gaining territory with the assistance of his Russian and Iranian and Lebanese allies.&nbsp;</p><p>The opposition, as you rightly stated, has been reduced geographically into smaller and smaller pockets and the rebel infighting continues. So in terms of the outcome, the ultimate outcome, that Assad will most likely continue to rule a very fractured state, that I think is more or less determined. But the fighting will continue.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame</strong>: Supposing the war ends with Assad still in power, as seems to be likely, do you have any sense of what an immediate post-conflict environment, at least in the parts of Syria that are entering a post-conflict environment, looks like? And do we have a sense of that from places like Aleppo, which the government recaptured over a year ago? &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Abouzeid:&nbsp;</strong>I haven’t been [to Aleppo] since they recaptured it. If you’ve read my book you know that I’m largely locked out of the government-controlled parts of Syria. But I would love to go and see it, to try and get some sort of a sense of what’s happening there—given all the caveats, of course, that there will be government minders on those trips. But I don’t pretend to know anything unless I can see it and smell it and hear it and feel it and actually walk the walk.&nbsp;</p><p>As we are seeing parts of former rebel-held territories like Homs, for example, and Aleppo, come back under government control, it would be interesting to see who lives there now. Are they actually all people from those areas or have other people moved in? What about the original inhabitants? Given that half of Syria has been displaced, either internally or externally, it would be interesting, and important, to see how those areas are coming back to life and who’s in them [and understand them at] the security, political, social, and economic levels. All of those questions are interesting and important.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame:&nbsp;</strong>One of the things that has struck me over the years in conversations with family and friends, and following the media, is a bitter disagreement about basic facts of the war in some cases. We talked about this briefly over email. I’m wondering do you see that sort of polarization among Syrians on the ground, and what might that mean for any kind of post-conflict resolution in Syria?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: Yeah, definitely this is a very, very polarized conflict. It’s a conflict where people can’t even agree on what to call it, as I alluded to in my notes. Some people call it the revolution, some people call it the war, some people take offense if you call it a war. Some people call it the foreign conspiracy, others call it the events, the crisis. There are lots of different words for it and those words have political weight behind them, they have political meaning. They suggest certain narratives. &nbsp;</p><p>It’s also in the names that Syrians call each other. For some revolutionaries, people on the regime side are all&nbsp;<em>shabiha</em>, they’re all thugs. And regime people will say, well they’re all terrorists. There’s this dehumanizing language and exploitation of whatever differences there are to make ‘the other’ more of the other. Syrians became ‘the other’ to each other. And that’s a very sad fact.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Social media is, in some cases, an echo chamber&nbsp;</p><p>Also, it’s not just Syria. Syria’s just one symptom of this but we see it everywhere, even in the US when there’s a school shooting and some journalists and activists will say, “they’re crisis actors. They weren’t really victims.” It’s a very dangerous development when the basic facts are in dispute—not so much the reaction to an incident or a fact but the very incident, the very fact itself, is now disputed. It just widens the gap between the sides so much more.</p><p><strong>Salame:</strong>In that vein, maybe you have already answered this question but I was wondering whether you think that traditional or social media has played any role in the polarization, or maybe even the perpetuation, of some of these divisions and conflicts in Syria?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: Social media is, in some cases, an echo chamber&nbsp;where people retweet and like and amplify messages that fit with their particular political narrative, regardless of whether or not those messages are grounded in facts or truth. It’s the stories that people tell themselves, and they tell themselves what they want to hear and they amplify those messages, and they reinforce those messages by spreading them within their bubble. Social media certainly makes that easier to do.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame:&nbsp;</strong>Among the Syrians you talked to, was there any resentment or exasperation towards journalists and the media generally? How did they receive you as a journalist, as the war dragged on?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid:&nbsp;</strong>It changed. It changed as the years dragged on. In the beginning Syrians were keen to speak to me because they wanted to be heard, they felt that perhaps the world didn’t know what was happening to them. But as the years dragged on there was a resentment. Syrians would often tell me, “Why should we speak to you? What difference will it make? Who’s listening? Who cares? What are you here for—to take our quotes and then leave?”&nbsp;</p><p>There was this sense of helplessness that the world maybe knew, it just didn’t care. That was reflected in a growing resentment, sometimes it was an almost violent resentment that got very dangerous a number of times when people were so angry and so exasperated and so desperate that they just wanted to lash out. But that was understandable because I could see, I had been there for so many years, and I could see what was happening and I could understand why some people were feeling that way. &nbsp;</p><p>Then it just became so difficult to get in [to Syria] as journalists were kidnapped by various groups and the war became… I mean it was just such a, it&nbsp;<em>is</em>such a ferocious conflict. It became harder and harder to cover from the ground. But, you know, we can say that it was hard for us but we were only in there for short periods. For Syrians, this is their day-to-day existence. This is what they face all the time. I mean, I don’t have the words to describe what it is like in some places. It’s just a vicious, vicious conflict.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The least we can do, if we can do nothing else, is to acknowledge what is happening and to not pretend that we can’t see it</p><p>And the sad thing is that the longer it goes on, and the more bloody it gets, it seems that people become numb to it. By ‘people’ I mean readers, I mean the international community. People sort of turn away. It seems too ugly to look at, and it&nbsp;<em>is</em>ugly to look at, but for humanity’s sake we can’t afford to look away, and we shouldn’t. The least we can do, if we can do nothing else, is to acknowledge what is happening and to not pretend that we can’t see it.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame</strong>: It’s clear from the book how deeply you cared about getting the facts right. I know that you did the fact-checking yourself, as well as the fixing and the translation. I was wondering if you could describe that process and also if you found anything surprising during that process at any points.</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: Well I try and outline a little bit about my process and how I did what I did in the notes.&nbsp;</p><p>I never for a second suspend my skepticism. I don’t think you can afford to do that. There is a voice in my head that is on loop during every interview and it just says one thing, “how do I know it’s true? how do I know it’s true? how do I know it’s true?” That voice remains in my head until it is satisfied that I have gathered enough information, that I have verified it to the best of my ability, that I have cross-referenced it with other interviews, people, places, bits of information, to the degree that I can be relatively confident that this is true. But that’s my baseline, that’s what I start with. Just because somebody says something doesn’t mean it’s true.&nbsp;</p><p>And that voice stays inside my head, it doesn’t come out, so the people I’m interviewing don’t know that I’m thinking that, obviously. You have to be sensitive when you’re speaking to people in some of these situations but for me that internal voice is key to my reporting process. I just keep digging and digging until I’ve satisfied it, until I’ve answered that question. That’s the case for every interview.&nbsp;</p><p>I had so much more information that I could’ve put in the book and I just didn’t have the space to do it. I cut out 60,000 words from the manuscript and I had stopped myself at 180,000 words. I could’ve gone on. There were lots of interviews that I conducted that I couldn’t get into the book without crowding the narrative but they were part of my fact-checking process even if they aren’t in print, and I mention that in the notes.&nbsp;</p><p>It’s just such a massive story that I couldn’t fit it all in, and nor do I pretend to fit it all in. Even the sliver of the story that I’m telling was bigger than the story that I have on paper. But certainly all of those interviews, all of those bits of information that I gathered were absolutely imperative and they informed every page of that book, even if they weren’t&nbsp;<em>on</em>every page of that book.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame:&nbsp;</strong>Near the beginning of the book you write, “Syria has ceased to exist as a unified state except in memories and on maps. In its place there are many Syrias.” After all this bloodshed, do you hold out hope for a unified Syria in the future? Is that desirable? And what would it take to get there?</p><p class="mag-quote-left">This is a story about people</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: I differentiate between a unified Syria in terms of lines&nbsp;ona map, which is one thing—and I think the lines on the map will not change—and the lines between communities. That for me is more interesting: how Syria as a community, as a country, as a nation-state, how these warring parties will reunify. How neighbors become neighbors again. The front lines and how they become erased. That for me is more interesting and that is an element of the Syria story that I hope to continue to report. It’s something that I’ll have my eye on in the coming years, when we get to a post-conflict state. Every conflict eventually ends, it’s just a question of when and how and what’s left in its wake.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Salame:&nbsp;</strong>Do you think that there is a possibility of rebuilding these connections between communities in the near future? Is prolonged sectarianism, like we see in Lebanon, the fate of Syria?</p><p><strong>Abouzeid:&nbsp;</strong>I wouldn’t presume to speculate. I really wouldn’t. I like those facts that we’re talking about. But it depends to some degree on how it ends and when it ends. Is it just that Assad takes over in the way that he’s been taking over, like Eastern Aleppo, Homs, and other areas like that, and that people are displaced as he moves into these areas? Or is there going to be some sort of.. I mean, it depends on how it ends you know? But certainly Syria isn’t the first conflict, and certainly it isn’t the first conflict in this region, so I really wouldn’t presume to speculate.</p><p><strong>Salame</strong>: Absolutely. I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your work. The book is truly remarkable and the Syrians you write about are even more so.</p><p><strong>Abouzeid</strong>: Thank you for your interest and I mean, honestly, there were just so many Syrians I could’ve written about in the same way. One of the things that struck me most was that every Syrian story is truly epic. Some of the things that people went through are things that I don’t think most people could even imagine. But they happened and they’re still happening, and they’re happening to real people. If nothing else I hope that the book reflects that and reminds people that this is a story about people, so thank you very much for your interest in the book and in my work and in what’s happening.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/muhammad-idrees-ahmad/syria-on-academic-freedom-and-responsibility">Syria: on academic freedom and responsibility</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/kylee-pedersen-jens-renner/let-s-talk-about-civilians-dying-in-syria">Let’s talk about the civilians dying in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/how-will-syrian-child-delete-image-of-his-poverty-from-search-engines">How will a Syrian child delete the image of his poverty from search engines?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/enrico-de-angelis-yazan-badran/crowds-and-individual-why-we-should-rethink-ho">The crowds and the individual: why we should rethink how we debate complex issues on social media</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict Journalism interview war reporting Richard Salame Mon, 07 May 2018 06:23:38 +0000 Richard Salame 117645 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Turkish mainstream media’s bad habit keeps getting worse https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/can-ture/turkish-mainstream-media-s-bad-habit-keeps-getting-worse <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Turkish public has been puzzled by fabricated news stories appearing every day in the mass media.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/286080916_86762d483b_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/286080916_86762d483b_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Picture by Carmen Alonso Suarez / Flickr.com (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>While western technology giants and regulators are plagued by the vast spread of fake news to the extent that foreign actors can meddle with national elections, Turkey is dealing with the disinformation in conventional media which traditionally have strong gatekeeping mechanisms. As legal monitoring mechanisms fade away and press ethics are no longer a reference point for journalism, how to prevent fake news in mass media is becoming an ever more important question in the country.</span></p><p>The Turkish audience witnessed a fierce media ethics debate among renowned journalists in the past months. The hot topic was the alleged incest case of a TV celebrity. The scandal burst when intimate photos of Murat Basoglu, a former TV host, appeared in the media. As the vehement debate went on among the public, Melis Alphan, a columnist for Hurriyet daily,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/yazarlar/melis-alphan/murat-basogluna-niye-sasiriyoruz-turkiyede-ensest-orani-yuzde-40-40567512">claimed</a>&nbsp;that incest rate among the Turkish population is 40 percent and that the Basoglu case was no exception. Blunt expression of this figure immediately vexed many. Ahmet Hakan Coskun, another columnist of the paper and an influential media figure,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/yazarlar/ahmet-hakan/dik-dur-egilme-zuhtu-bey-40568637">objected</a>&nbsp;to the number Alphan mentioned, saying, in a derisive tone, that if the claimed figure is accurate it means that almost half of the Turkish population have domestic sex.</p><p>Alphan’s claim was based on a study by an NGO, whose details had never been revealed to the public. She wrote, in her controversial piece, that the only detail the organization shared with the public was that 4 out of every 10 people are in an incest relationship. Accuracy of the figure and how the study was conducted still lie in obscurity.</p><p>The last attack on Alphan’s piece came from Ali Haydar Yucesoy, a judge in the Middle Anatolian town of Afyon. Yucesoy called Alphan’s claim irresponsibility, though, pointing to another aspect of the issue. He&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/JudgeAliHaydar/status/904327922353397760">stated</a>&nbsp;on his Twitter account that “Above all, reporting and commenting based on groundless figures of dubious studies whether scientifically conducted is irresponsibility towards society and the profession of journalism.”</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Weaponization of the media is nothing new in Turkey</p><p>Alphan’s imprudent claim evoked a fierce controversy around a taboo for Turkish society, to the extent that the journalist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/m/haber/turkiye/815870/Turkiye_deki_ensest_gercegini_gundeme_getiren_Melis_Alphan_a_301_tehdidi.html">said</a>&nbsp;on Twitter that she may face court for insulting the Turkish nation. Despite all this fuss, no one has touched the issue of journalism ethics except Yucesoy. In fact, the incest debate was not the first incident where fake news or insufficiently grounded claims made the headlines. In recent years, predominantly in pro-government media outlets, many news pieces were proven to be false, based on imaginary claims or defamations.</p><p>Weaponization of the media is nothing new in Turkey. The outset of the decade witnessed a tremendous abuse of media power by Gulenists. During the notorious Ergenekon and Balyoz cases which shook the Turkish military and intelligentsia between 2008-2011, Gulenist media outlets, among which were Zaman, Taraf, Bugun dailies as well as a couple of TV stations, were quite instrumental in influencing the national public opinion and evoking anti-Kemalist sentiments among the public.&nbsp;</p><p>Before the collapse of the alliance between the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania based cleric and the top suspect of the 2016 coup attempt, and Erdogan’s AKP, Gulen’s network, specifically its media wing, was strongly beneficial for the ruling party in eliminating their common enemy: the secular Kemalist elites. They were blamed to be “putschist” without any court decision and adequate evidence and frequently targeted by Gulenist media outlets. Most of the evidence claimed against the suspects was eventually proved false. Through their ties with the judiciary and the police, then another stronghold of Gulenists, they had access to classified information and documents submitted to court. The network’s newspapers even published who would soon be arrested. This period witnessed the misuse of the media power and journalism in the hands of Gulenist media executives.</p><p>After the fall of Gulenists from power, especially after the failed coup attempt in 2016, the government backed media established its dominance in the mass communication ecology of Turkey. This swing of power in the media went hand in hand with the adoption of anti-western rhetoric by the government; besides the suppression of political opposition scaled up. The media, accordingly, adapted itself to the political shift.</p><p>As seen in the case of Gulenists, the fake news addiction of Turkish media is not a recent issue but dates back to previous decades. However, it has never been as unscrutinized as in the past years. The trend peaked in 2013 when Turkish daily Takvim&nbsp;<a href="https://www.haberler.com/takvim-in-christiane-amanpour-la-hayali-4741410-haberi/">published</a>&nbsp;an imaginary interview with CNN International journalist Christiane Amanpour, who covered the anti-government Gezi protests in Istanbul. In the fake interview, Amanpour confessed all the “evil plans” she and her team held against the Turkish nation!</p><p>The paper published the piece full front page and added an almost invisible note in an inner page, which explains that the story is “unreal like CNN’s journalism.” The interview clearly intended to mislead the audience and most-probably succeeded to a certain extent. Even Amanpour had to&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/camanpour/status/347001846541467648">comment</a>&nbsp;on Takvim’s fictional piece involving her. Of course, no one has ever questioned why the paper was so much at ease in publishing an obvious fake interview.</p><p>Political dissenters have been frequently targeted by the media by headlining ungrounded claims against individuals protesting governmental policies and activist groups. In 2015, for instance, several activists were detained on the grounds of incitement among a group of refugees marching to the border. Some media outlets&nbsp;<a href="https://m.takvim.com.tr/guncel/2017/07/31/buyukada-plani-devreye-girdi">framed</a>&nbsp;the issue as provocation and portrayed the activists, all non-Turkish citizens, as “agents”, “spies”, and “provocateurs”.&nbsp;</p><p>Their passports confiscated by the police somehow happened to land in the hands of journalists. Eventually they were&nbsp;<a href="http://t24.com.tr/haber/yargi-tatilde-yargisiz-infaz-isbasinda-savciligin-biraktigi-muvekkillerimiz-gozaltinda-ve-ajan-provokator-ilan-edildiler-avukatlik-yapamiyoruz,310946">published</a>&nbsp;on front pages with their names and all their personal information visible. After more than two years, they are still accessible online on the website of the newspaper.</p><p>Since the 2016 coup attempt, the habit of defamation with baseless accusations culminated and slanderous news coverage of this kind has been commonplace in Turkish media against those critical of the government. In last July, Turkish law enforcement officials detained 12 NGO representatives upon the claim of links with an “armed terrorist organization”.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Legal rights and ethical codes protecting individuals and corporations against fake news dropped off the public attention</p><p>Turkish mainstream media, especially its pro-government wing, took on the case as an act of preparation for a coup d’etat. The detained individuals were&nbsp;<a href="https://m.takvim.com.tr/guncel/2017/07/31/buyukada-plani-devreye-girdi">depicted</a>&nbsp;as spies, foreign agents planning to evoke chaos in the country, even before a trial and without convincing evidence. The same rough and accusing language was in play throughout the period during which the media kept covering the issue. A while ago, a court ordered the release of the detainees, which took place without any considerable news coverage. However, the initial coverage with the disparaging language is still online in internet archives.</p><p>Turkey has had established press laws regulating the editorial standards of journalism. Above all the legislation regulating specific issues, Turkish&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.6112.pdf">Radio-TV Law</a>&nbsp;states that all radio and TV stations operate under public responsibility. More specifically, the 2004&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.5187.pdf">Press Law</a>, one of the major laws regulating mass media, stipulates that the publisher who conducts a false news coverage slandering individuals must publish a disclaimer.&nbsp;</p><p>In addition to the legislation regulating slander issues, professional journalist organizations have set clear ethical rules concerning ungrounded claims about individuals.&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="http://basinkonseyi.org.tr/basin-meslek-ilkeleri/#top">Professional Principles Chart</a>&nbsp;of the Press Council, one of the major two organizations, features provisions that ban humiliating, defamatory and slanderous statements against individuals and institutions as well as the publication of a story without confirmation (Articles 4 and 6).&nbsp;</p><p>Similarly, the other professional organization, the Association of Journalists warns against libelous, manipulative and incriminating news language in the article 10 of its&nbsp;<a href="http://tgc.org.tr/bildirgeler/turkiye-gazetecilik-hak-ve-sorumluluk-bildirgesi.html">Declaration of Journalistic Rights and Responsibilities</a>. Although not legally binding, these set the ethical obligations media outlets are expected to adhere to.</p><p>However, as the country’s judicial system deteriorated and governmental dominance in every aspect of social and political life, including judiciary, becomes ever more noticeable, legal rights and ethical codes protecting individuals and corporations against fake news dropped off the public attention. In the press ethics now reigns a semi-anomie. Especially pro-government media outlets take advantage of the situation in the form of more fictional stories published without feeling bound to legal scrutiny.</p><p>In the post-truth era, where spread of information takes places at an exponential speed online, the editorial autonomy of press is more problematic than ever. In the absence, or with the weakening, of certain standards of journalism, public service principles erode and are eventually replaced by a drive for profit maximization as well as political commitment. To keep press editorially free and responsible in journalistic standards, we need journalists - at all levels - who are respectful of individual rights and aware of the public service mission of journalism.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sibel-hurtas/story-of-unidentified-detainee">Story of an ‘unidentified’ detainee</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/julian-de-medeiros/like-erdogan-trump-is-using-conspiracy-theory-to-sabotage-democracy-here-s-what-w">Like Erdogan, Trump is using conspiracy theory to sabotage democracy: here’s what we learn from the Turkish experience </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/melis-behlil/presenting-absence-armenian-legacy-in-non-fiction-film">Presenting an absence: the Armenian legacy in non-fiction film</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ahmet-insel/demirta-verdict-and-enemy-criminal-law">The Demirtaş verdict and ‘enemy criminal law’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Democracy and government media Journalism Can Ture Fri, 20 Apr 2018 07:52:10 +0000 Can Ture 117337 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How will a Syrian child delete the image of his poverty from search engines? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/how-will-syrian-child-delete-image-of-his-poverty-from-search-engines <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Media professionals should contribute to respecting the privacy of individuals or groups who are subjects of their news articles, especially when it concerns children and their privacy.&nbsp;<strong><span style="text-decoration-line: underline;"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A3%D8%B7%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2">عربي</a></span></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-16175116_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-16175116_0.jpg" alt="Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Azaz refugee camp is pictured near the Bab Al-Salama border crossing between Turkey and Syria in Azaz, Syria, 02 April 2013. Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Some Syrian journalists working in opposition or pro-regime media platforms do not hesitate to publish news that violates the privacy of other individuals and groups.</p><p>Some of these media outlets shouldn’t even be classified as ‘<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism">yellow journalism</a>’ or tabloids as they clearly publish news to undermine political or military adversaries, rather than to gain as many readers as possible; as is the case with tabloids. </p> <p>The question here is why do journalists insist on publishing such news, if not to gain a large audience? By doing so, they make a huge professional mistake, where they work to please the owners or funders of their media organisations without the least concern or consideration of their readers’ feelings.</p> <p>Some may say that the absence of a free and independent media during the rule of both Assads, father and son, has greatly affected the work of journalists and public affairs professionals today; and I believe this is true. </p><p>Nonetheless, journalists should not be replicating the same work ethics and tactics of pro-regime media in alternative Syrian media outlets that appeared after the popular protests of mid-March 2011. </p> <p>For example, a reader or viewer may not find much importance or relevance to a news correspondent’s deliberate leaking of an audio recording of a Syrian opposition figure; it is certainly not clear how such a leak would serve the public interest. </p><p>Shouldn’t the journalist have asked himself what good could come of this leak, or what the purpose was, especially since he recorded the opposition figure without his knowledge, and edited the recording out of context?</p> <p>Some journalists justify their unprofessional leaks, but they forget that they can only publish such material when the material is part of an inquiry and when they have all the legal evidence and documentation to prove the authenticity of the material, should they have to defend themselves in court if legal action is taken against them. </p> <p>It’s worth noting that publishing slander against specific groups and individuals in an audio recording is condemned, but journalists who contribute to the leaking of such material should also be held accountable.</p> <p>A journalist should think carefully about the purpose of publishing his material while taking into account his readers’ intellect as well as his sources’ privacy.</p> <p>Additionally, another important issue is the journalist’s emotional bias while reporting on the ground; this emotionality subconsciously affects his work. It is natural for a journalist to be affected and biased about the humanitarian situation he/she is reporting to the world, but one should nonetheless consider the sensitivity and privacy of the subjects and avoid becoming too emotional, which in itself often leads to inadvertently violating the subjects’ privacy. </p> <p>Take, for example, a photo of a poverty-stricken Syrian child wearing an old shoe. The journalist’s intention is to convey the child’s suffering to the world, and yet this photo will certainly hurt the child psychologically if he sees it online years later. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I remember that I once accompanied a Dutch journalist to a Syrian refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where we worked together on recording short documentaries about some refugees. I watched the children laughing at our camera lenses, and some of the refugee women asked us to help them, thinking that we had the power or ability to do so.</p> <p>These interactions left a huge impression on me, while the Dutch journalist was too busy drinking his juice to pay attention or be affected by their problems. </p> <p>I would say that a journalist could remain neutral if he does not have any relationship with the subjects of his report, whereas any kind connection with them would lead to deliberate or unintentional mistakes. </p> <p>Given the last few years’ of conflict in Syria, I would say that while it is impossible to control the editorial tone and ethics of all pro-regime and opposition media outlets; but their employees should contribute to respecting the privacy of the individuals or groups who are the subjects of their news articles, especially when it comes to children and their privacy.</p> <p>Politicians may one day be able to solve their issues with each other, but how will that Syrian child be able to delete the photo of his poverty from search engines if he finds it one day?</p><p><em>This piece was first published on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A3%D8%B7%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2">NAWA</a> in Arabic on 14 January 2018.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wives-muhajirin-foriegn-fighters-husband-women">Wives of ‘muhajirin’: who’s your husband?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/struggle-for-survival-what-s-next-for-syrian-journalism">The struggle for survival – what’s next for Syrian journalism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syrian-cultural-policies-in-turkey-marginalization-continues-part-i">Syrian cultural work in Turkey: the marginalization continues – Part I</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syrian-cultural-policies-turkey-islamists-secularists-part-2">Syrian cultural policies in Turkey: Islamists and secularists beyond the wall – Part II</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ghost-with-red-nail-polish">A ghost with red nail polish</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Culture Journalism journalists Mid-East Forum جوان سوز Sun, 04 Mar 2018 21:18:57 +0000 جوان سوز 116457 at https://www.opendemocracy.net كيف سيحذف الطفل السوري صورة فقره من محركات البحث؟ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A3%D8%B7%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B2 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">يجب على العاملين في وسائل&nbsp;الإعلام أن يساهموا في عدم انتهاك خصوصيّة الأفراد أو الجماعات ضمن موادهم وأخبارهم الصحافيّة خاصة حينما يتعلق الأمر بالأطفال وخصوصياتهم.&nbsp;<strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/how-will-syrian-child-delete-image-of-his-poverty-from-search-engines">English</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-16175116.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-16175116.jpg" alt="Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Azaz refugee camp is pictured near the Bab Al-Salama border crossing between Turkey and Syria in Azaz, Syria, 02 April 2013. Thomas Rassloff/DPA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>لا يتوانى بعض الصحافيين السوريين العاملين في مختلف وسائل الإعلام سواءً الّتي تعارض النظام في سوريا أو تلك الّتي تتبع إليه مباشرةً من نشرِ موادٍ صحافية تنتهك خصوصيّة الآخرين من أفرادٍ وجماعات.</p><p dir="rtl">لا يمكن حتى تصنيف بعضها ضمن إطار <a href="https://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9_%D8%B5%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1">الصحافة الصفراء</a>. ذلك أن الهدف من بث مثل هذه الأخبار، يأتي على الأرجح من أجلِ النيل من خصمٍّ سياسي أو عسكري وليس لكسبِ عددٍ كبير من المتابعين أو المشاهدين كما هو الأمر غالباً في الصحافة الصفراء.</p><p dir="rtl">السؤال الأبرز هنا، لماذا يثابر هؤلاء الصحافيون على نشر مثل هذه الأخبار أن لم يكن الهدف منها كسب جمهورٍ كبير؟ وبالتالي يضعون أنفسهم أمام خطأ مهني كبير وهو العمل على إرضاء مالك المؤسسة الإعلاميّة أو مموّلها بالدرجة الأولى دون أدنى انتباه لمشاعر المتابعين أثناء صياغة المادة الصحافيّة وبثّها على وسائل الإعلام.</p><p dir="rtl">قد يقول البعض أن عدم وجود إعلام حرّ ومستقل طيلة عهد حكم الأسدين الأب والابن، أدى بشكلٍ كبير على عمل الصحافيين ومختلف العاملين في الشأن العام وهذا الكلام صحيح بالفعل. لكن من المفترض في الوقت ذاته أّلا يستنسخ بعض هؤلاء الصحافيون أسلوب عمل وسائل إعلام النظام السوري في وسائل إعلام سوريّة بديلة ظهرت عقب اندلاع الاحتجاجات الشعبيّة في البلاد منتصف آذار/مارس 2011.</p><p dir="rtl">في حادثة تسرّيب <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwH8Jgqrc5k">تسجيل</a> صوتي متعمّد لمعارض سوري من خلال صحافي يعمل مراسلاً لفضائية إخباريّة كنموذج لمثل هذه الأخبار، لا يلمّس المتابع أي أهمية لنشر مثل هذا التسريب، كما أن "المصلحة العامة" التي تقتضي ضرورة نشرهِ غير معروفة.</p><p dir="rtl">ألم يسأل هذا الصحافي نفسه عن الهدف من وراء نشر هذا التسريب؟ خاصة وأنه كان قد سُجِّلَ دون معرفة صاحبه واقتطع دون سياقه.</p><p dir="rtl">البعض من هؤلاء الصحافيين يبرر نشر مثل هذه الشائعات والتسريبات بطريقة غير مهنيّة، لكنه ينسى أو يتناسي أنّه يمكن للصحافي أن يقوم بنشر مثل هذه المواد فقط عندما تكون ضمن تحقيق استقصائي وعندما يكون في حوزته كافة الأدلة والمستندات القانونيّة التي تؤكد صحة شائعاته للدفاع عن نفسه في المحاكم لو كان هناك محاسبة قانونيّة له.</p><p dir="rtl">بالطبع لا بدّ من الإشارة هنا إلى أن بث الشتائم ضد أفراد وجماعات معينة ضمن تسجيل صوتي هو عملٌ مدان حتماً، لكن ينبغي إدانة من يساهم في بثّها أيضاً من الصحافيين.</p><p dir="rtl">على الصحافي أن يفكر جيداً بالهدف من نشر مادته الصحافيّة مع مراعاة عقول المتابعين للوسيلة الإعلاميّة الّتي تقوم بنشرها دون أن ينسى خصوصية مصادرهِ.</p><p dir="rtl">يُضاف إلى هذا الأمر قضية أخرى في غاية الأهميّة وهي عاطفة الصحافي أو المراسل الموجود على أرض الواقع والّتي تتحرك دون وعي منه أثناء عمله الصحافي، خاصة وأنه يتأثر بالحدث الّذي يقوم بتغطيته ومن الطبيعي انحياز الصحافي أو المراسل للقضايا الإنسانية ونقل صورتها للرأي العام، لكن يتوجب عليّه التفكير في حساسية وخصوصية المشهد الّذي يقوم بتغطيته،&nbsp;حيث تغلب عليه عاطفته أحياناً، ما يتسبب في كثير من الأحيان بانتهاك خصوصيّة الآخرين حتى دون قصدٍ منه.</p><p dir="rtl">على سبيل المثال أن تظهر صورة لطفلٍ سوري بحذاءٍ قديم ومظهرٍ يؤكد فقرهِ. هذه الصورة بالتأكيد ستؤثر سلباً في نفسية هذا الطفل لو شاهدها بعد سنوات على مواقع الإنترنت، في حين أن الصحافي أو المصور الّذي قام بنشر مثل هذه الصورة، كان يهدف لنقل معاناته إلى الرأي العام.</p><p dir="rtl">وعلى سبيل المثال، أذكر أنني كنتُ رفقةَ صحافي هولندي ذات يوم في مخيم للاجئين السوريين في إقليم كُردستان العراق وكنا نقوم معاً بتسجيل أفلامٍ وثائقية قصيرة عن بعضهم. </p><p dir="rtl">شاهدتُ هناك الأطفال وهم يضحكون لعدسات الكاميرا التي بحوزتنا وطلبتْ منّا بعض النسوّة المساعدة في تحسين وضعهم، ظنّاً منهنَّ أنه يمكننا أن نفعل شيئاً يساعدهن.</p><p dir="rtl">هذه المشاهد تركتْ أثراً كبيراً في نفسي، بينما كان الصحافي الهولندي مشغولاً بشربِ العصير دون أن ينتبه لمشاكلهن أو يتأثر بها.</p><p dir="rtl">بإمكاني القول أنّ الصحافي يمكن أن يكون حيادياً لدرجة كبيرة لو لم يكن له أيّة علاقة بالأشخاص الواقعين ضمن حدثٍ ما، مع وجود هذه العلاقة سيرتكب أخطاءً مقصودة وغير مقصودة أيضاً.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="rtl">من الضروري القول أخيراً أنّه لا يمكن في حالة الصراع الّذي تشهده سوريا منذ سنوات ضبط إيقاع تحرير وسائل إعلام الأطراف المتنازعة، لكن يمكن للعاملين في هذه الوسائل، أن يساهموا في عدم انتهاك خصوصيّة الأفراد أو الجماعات ضمن موادهم وأخبارهم الصحافيّة خاصة حينما يتعلق الأمر بالأطفال وخصوصياتهم.</p><p dir="rtl">السياسيون سيتمكنون من حل المشاكل العالقة بين بعضهم البعض، لكن كيف سيتمكن الطفل السوري من حذف صورة فقره من محرّكات البحث إذا شاهدها يوماً؟</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%86%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%20%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84">عن تعدد الوقائع، والعبث الدامي بالحقيقة</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84">الإعلام في مصيدة الإيديولوجيا</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%85%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7/%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81">&quot;التنمر الإلكتروني&quot; في أوساط السوريين: فهم خاطئ أم أسلوب حياة؟</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Culture Journalism Mid-East Forum Arabic language جوان سوز Sun, 14 Jan 2018 12:36:29 +0000 جوان سوز 115576 at https://www.opendemocracy.net عن تعدد الوقائع، والعبث الدامي بالحقيقة https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%86%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%20%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">ينسى الجمهور حقيقة توحش السلطة، وسينشغل بمهمة مناورة وترويض الحقائق البديلة على اختلاف تجلياتها، حفاظاً على مساحة الحياة التي تضيق تحت قدميه كلما توسعت آفاق الواقع.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-10108659.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hazou Victoria/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-10108659.jpg" alt="Hazou Victoria/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Hazou Victoria/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Students look at Facebook pages relating the Egyptian demonstrations in 2011 at an internet cafe in downtown Cairo, Egypt. Hazou Victoria/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>يأخذ مفهوم الحقيقة قبل الثورة التكنولوجية شكلاً مطابقاً للواقع، وتتبناه وسائل الإعلام وجمهورها، التي تريد تقديم ومعرفة ما رآه الشاهد وسمعه، بعيداً عن التفسيرات التأويلية.</p><p dir="rtl">ومع تحول العالم إلى "قرية صغيرة" بفضل الانترنت، حدث انفجار عكسي توسعيّ في حدود الواقع، أدى إلى نشوء مصطلح هجين من النقائض بين "الواقع" و"الفرض".</p><p dir="rtl">وحدثت هذه الهجرة الضخمة من قبائل البشر الإلكترونية إلى أراضي "الواقع الافتراضي"، حيث صدمتهم ميزات الأرشفة المقاومة لعث النسيان في عصر السرعة، بقدرتها على حفظ الحقائق المتناقضة والمتعددة بتعدد الوقائع (واقع/واقعي – واقع/افتراضي)، الذي بات بدوره حقيقة لا يمكن نكرانها.</p><p dir="rtl">و بعبور الإنسان من الستار الرقمي ومواجهته لتعددية الحقائق خلال الزمن، بما فيها الحقائق التي يتبناها هو نفسه، اكتشف أن ديكتاتورية الواقع التي قبل بها طوعاً لما تمتلكه من سلطة الحقيقة، لم تكن سوى انعكاساً لديكتاتورية متأصلة بالبشر، رفضوا هذه التعددية.</p><p dir="rtl">السعي المحموم إذن لم يكن بهدف الوصول إلى الحقيقة أو كشفها، إنما بهدف صناعتها وترويجها، والمضاربة لرفع قيمة أسهمها وتداولها في بورصة وسائل الإعلام.</p><p dir="rtl">أخذت هذه المضاربة بعداً احترافياً بعد قيام خبير القياس النفسي، ميشيل كوزينسكي، بابتكار استمارة اعتماداً على <a href="http://www.mominoun.com/articles/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%85%D9%8A-%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A3%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-4750">البيانات الكبيرة</a> "big data"، لأهداف علمية بغية تحليل سلوكيات الإنسان عبر نشاطه على الإنترنت، هذا قبل أن تستولي عليها السلطات بطريقة أو بأخرى، وفق بحث عن الإعلام الرقمي ودوره في التحكم بالرأي العام.</p><p dir="rtl">استخدمت <a href="http://www.mominoun.com/articles/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%85%D9%8A-%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A3%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-4750">شركات خاصة</a> هذه البيانات بالتعاون مع رجال متنفذين في السلطة للكشف عن مخاوف الناس في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، وتفصيل حقائق على مقاس تخوفاتهم، وتوجيهها عبر وسائل الإعلام بدقة لاستهداف كل شريحة وحي ومنزل على حدة. أدت بالنهاية إلى فوز دونالد ترامب بالانتخابات، بناءً على "أخبار كاذبة".</p><p dir="rtl">تفاعُلْ الناس مع أخبار كاذبة، ينبغي أن تكون ركيكة كونها مناقضة لـ"بداهة" الحقيقة و"واقعيتها"، فقط لكونها خاطبت هواجسهم، تعطي مؤشرات أكثر قوة بأن الحقائق على تعددها لم تكن موجودة في العالم الخارجي بشكل مستقل عن الذات، بل هي نتاج عقلي بحت، قَلِقْ، ووهمي.</p><p dir="rtl">وفي عالم "<a href="http://www.almodon.com/media/2017/1/24/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B6-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%86-%D9%86%D9%83%D8%B0%D8%A8-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%85-%D9%88%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%84%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7">الحقائق البديلة</a>" الذي أدخلتنا إليه مستشارة ترامب، "كيليان كونواي" دون فيزا، رداً على كذب صريح يتعلق بأعداد الحاضرين لحفل تنصيب الرئيس الجديد، يبدو أننا نتجه نحو حقبة "صيد جائر" للحقائق، التي ستكون بمثابة ظل للسلطة.</p><p dir="rtl">عكس العلاقة "الأخلاقية" بين السلطة والحقيقة بحيث تستمد الأخيرة شرعيتها من الأولى؛ بمعنى أن هذه الحقيقة "حقيقية" لأنها متماهية مع رغبة السلطة، سيؤدي إلى حالة تعميم لـ"حقيقة السلطة"، بوصفها تسلط وتحكم.</p><p dir="rtl">هذا التماهي الذي تجسد في دول العالم الأول على هيئة "أخبار كاذبة" أو "حقائق بديلة"، سيكون له مرادف أكثر واقعية في الدول ذات الوصول المحدود إلى شبكة الانترنت.</p><p dir="rtl">آلية إنتاج "الحقيقة البديلة" التي اعتمدت على صناعة خطر، أو تكريس خطر موجود مسبقاً، كشفت حقيقة السلطة "المتوحشة"، وكشفت من جهة أخرى أثر الخوف في تشكيل حقائق فعالة لدى الجمهور المتلقي.</p><p dir="rtl">في دول مثل سوريا وليبيا واليمن وغيرها، حيث الوصول للإنترنت محدود أو مقيد، ستكون الحقائق البديلة أكثر دموية بالمعنى الحرفي، إذ لن تتورع الأنظمة عن الضلوع في مهمة علنية لتشكيل الخطر على الجمهور، الذي سيقبل بها بالرغم من منافاتها لمبادئ العقل الأولى.</p><p dir="rtl">ستعتمد الحقيقة التي تروجها أنظمة هذه البلدان على مبدأ مختصر ومكثف، "يتوجب عليّ البقاء في السلطة، لحمايتكم من الخطر الذي قد أشكله عليكم في حال خروجي منها".</p><p dir="rtl">"الحقيقة قاتلة" هذا ما يقوله نيتشه، "لذلك يلجأ العقل لإنتاج أوهام تحميه منها، وما يعتبره الناس حقائق ليس إلا أوهام تم نسيانها".</p><p dir="rtl">سينسى الجمهور حقيقة توحش السلطة، وسينشغل بمهمة مناورة وترويض الحقائق البديلة على اختلاف تجلياتها، حفاظاً على مساحة الحياة التي تضيق تحت قدميه كلما توسعت آفاق الواقع.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84">الإعلام في مصيدة الإيديولوجيا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%85%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7/%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81">&quot;التنمر الإلكتروني&quot; في أوساط السوريين: فهم خاطئ أم أسلوب حياة؟</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Net neutrality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Democracy and government Net neutrality middle east Journalism Digital Age Mid-East Forum Arabic language علي بهلول Sat, 13 Jan 2018 17:05:13 +0000 علي بهلول 115572 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Not a Saudi ‘Arab spring’: Mohammad Bin Salman, a threat not a reformer [Part 1] https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/alain-gabon/not-saudi-arab-spring-mohammad-bin-salman-threat-not-reformer-par <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Putting “Mohammad bin Salman” next to “Arab Spring” is either an oxymoron or an antithesis.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-34085649_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-34085649_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A demonstration to protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. Picture by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Whatever was left of “star-columnist-and-best-selling-author” Tom Friedman’s credibility as a serious reporter was most likely lost in his <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/opinion/saudi-prince-mbs-arab-spring.html?action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=opinion-c-col-left-region&amp;region=opinion-c-col-left-region&amp;WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&amp;_r=0">November 23 NY Times’ infamous op-ed</a>, where he described crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) as the Middle East’s “most significant” liberal reformer, and the true reincarnation of the ‘Arab Spring’ after a long ‘Arab winter’. “At last”, as the title says, a new Middle Eastern savior has been born, and Friedman ambitions to be his messenger.</p> <p class="western">Despite his three Pulitzer Prizes (for his already distant work of the 1980s and 1990s), Friedman is probably the most overrated international reporter in the western world. His best-selling books are essentially lame platitudes and easy popularizations of trends that have been at work for decades (globalization, etc.) and were far better explained by countless, more substantial intellectuals and analysts before him. They often seem to be far more about Mr. Friedman himself, and usually read as much as exercises in narcissistic self-aggrandizement as the enlightening explanations of the world destined to educate us, the masses, that he wants them to be. </p> <p class="western">Besides his self-complacency, analytical sloppiness, intellectual laziness, frequently glaring <span><a href="http://fair.org/topic/thomas-friedman/">ignorance or misunderstanding</a></span> of the topics he writes about , crude “Washington Consensus” ideological conformism, cheap and easy optimism, and repetitive, formulaic, predictable stance on trends he aspires to reveal to us though he often seems to be behind the times and the last one to discover, in childish awe, things everyone had been writing about for years if not decades, Friedman sounds like an egotistic, pompous megalomaniac.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Is Friedman really the best the NY Times can find?</p><p class="western">Serious thinkers, intellectuals, analysts, and scholars stopped paying attention to this media figure a long time ago (if they ever did), and for a while, he has been a <span><a href="https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/create-your-own-thomas-friedman-op-ed-column">subject of mockery</a></span>. Some would say he is just a joke. Even for the NY Times itself and its journalists, he has become an <span><a href="http://www.firstpost.com/world/thomas-friedman-is-an-embarrassment-new-york-times-reporters-1378791.html">embarrassment</a></span>, to the point one truly wonders why this character is still on the payroll of such a prestigious and serious newspaper. Is Friedman really the best the NY Times can find?</p> <p class="western">Yet, he definitely grabbed our attention (the negative type) with that column, which has provoked outrage, disgust and dismay at the fact the NY Times was publishing this truly awful and shocking piece of shameless propaganda for Saudi Arabia’s new despot. Daniel Larison described Friedman’s full-page piece as a “<span><a href="http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/friedmans-love-letter-to-a-war-criminal/">love letter to a war criminal</a></span>”, which was echoed by Daniel Martin Varisco calling it “<span><a href="https://menatidningen.se/bs-on-mbs-by-tlf/">an undisguised love-song for a brutal and calculating potentate</a></span>”, while <span><a href="https://www.democracynow.org/2017/11/30/mehdi_hasan_rips_thomas_friedmans_nauseating">Mehdi Hasan</a></span> righteously ripped him apart on Democracy Now.</p> <p class="western">All of which will without a doubt be seen by our globe trotter as further evidence he “nailed it”, that he has once again created a “buzz”, and that he is indeed “important”. Friedman’s arrogance will most likely prevent him from considering the fact that everyone immediately saw the exact same problems with his “reporting”, as any real journalist would do in such a case. Besides, he has already answered his critics with <span><a href="https://video.scroll.in/860214/watch-tom-friedman-has-a-spirited-response-to-critics-of-his-admiration-for-the-saudi-crown-prince">a sophistication</a></span> that matches his writing and analytical skills.</p> <p class="western">It is not the first time, far from it, that Friedman writes <span><a href="https://www.salon.com/2012/07/25/the_value_of_tom_friedman/">repellent pieces</a></span>. But this one reaches a new level in abjection. Its complete lack of journalistic ethics and its shamelessly propagandistic nature is immediately obvious to anyone reading it. But it is the tragic context of the post-Arab Spring Middle East that makes Friedman’s op-ed particularly repugnant on all levels—journalistic, professional, ethical, or simply human.</p> <h3> <strong>Is MBS the rebirth of the Arab Spring?</strong></h3> <p class="western">Arguing as Friedman does that MBS is presiding over some kind of rebirth or continuation of the Arab Spring is probably the most absurd and counterfactual claim of the year, one that already reveals Friedman’s dishonesty and bad faith, or if we want to be charitable, his ignorance of the basics. Either way, this one claim is sufficient to prove Friedman is no credible reporter or analyst. The Arab Spring was a grassroots chain reaction of rebellions against precisely the type of despotic regimes MBS represents. It was a series of large scale, interconnected popular revolutions-from-below that toppled or tried to topple MENA’s autocrats, not a top-down set of limited cultural “reforms” granted to his subjects by some dynastic absolute monarch. So not only is MBS no Arab Spring, but he is the exact opposite of it.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The Arab Spring was a grassroots chain reaction of rebellions against precisely the type of despotic regimes MBS represents</p> <p class="western">Besides, it was the Saudi regime who in 2011 <span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/world/middleeast/15bahrain.html?mtrref=www.google.com&amp;gwh=826AD20244C276E294F1B39D6C909CC0&amp;gwt=pay">helped the authorities of Bahrain crush in blood its own Arab Spring</a></span>. The KSA even sent military forces there to quell the demonstrations, and during the following years <span><a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/3/bahrain-uprisinginterventionsaudiarabiaemirates.html">continued to police their neighbor</a></span>. Though bin Salman was not in charge yet, no one heard him protest against that. </p> <p class="western">Finally, the KSA under MBS remains firmly the main Arab ally of the ultra-violent<span><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/four-traits-sisi-hitler-and-mussolini-have-common-1427651880"> Egyptian regime</a></span> of President el-Sisi, himself one of the <span><a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/trump-embraces-the-most-repressive-dictator-in-modern-egyptian-history/">worst totalitarian dictators</a></span> in the region, ruling with<span><a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/08/2013823142620812772.html"> terror</a></span>, fear and repression, and a proven mass murderer who in one single day <span><a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/08/12/all-according-plan/raba-massacre-and-mass-killings-protesters-egypt">killed nearly 1,000 of his own people</a></span> when they were staging a sit-in protest against his July 3, 2013 military coup. As <span><a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20171208-revisited-egyt-tahrir-square-protests-arab-spring-police-brutality-islamist-revolution-idea">this Egyptian activist explains</a></span>, the Sisi regime, a major MBS ally, is erasing in pure totalitarian Orwellian fashion every trace and memory of the Arab Spring to make sure it does not happen again. It is even claiming the 2011 protestors were traitors paid by foreign powers to sabotage the country. Tahrir Square, which was the heart and furnace of the Arab Spring, is now a military zone where demonstrations and gatherings are forbidden. </p> <p class="western">Those are the kinds of policies MBS fully backs, both at home and abroad in countries like Egypt. Bin Salman’s major allies such as Egypt and Bahrain systematically rank among those who repressed the Arab Spring the most violently and will not hesitate to do it again, with his full consent and support should the rebellions resume one day.</p> <p class="western">Some commentators pointed out how outrageous it is for Friedman to take at face value MBS’ laughable explanations on how the Saudi justice system is investigating and prosecuting those alleged corruption cases in perfect independence. Friedman does not seem to realize that it is the KSA, where there is no such thing as checks and balances, let alone separation of powers or the independence of the justice system from government. Though another explanation is that he knows well, but chooses to pretend that MBS’ explanations are truthful. For a professional journalist, ignorance and naivety are sins that can nonetheless be forgiven, but bad faith and deliberate dishonesty to mislead one’s readership, furthermore in order to serve a tyrant, are far graver crimes, the kind that cannot and should not be forgiven. And Friedman’s bad faith in that piece is constant from beginning to end.</p> <h3> <strong>Fake “liberal reformer”, true despot</strong></h3> <p class="western">Unless Friedman deliberately forgot, it has escaped his attention that the man he praises as some “liberal”, wise, visionary and generous “reformer” is the ruler of an absolute monarchy who furthermore, in blatant rupture with Saudi’s tradition of horizontal power-sharing within the royal family, seeks to establish a totalitarian <span><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-middle-east-41931050/jamal-khashoggi-one-man-rule-bad-for-saudi-arabia">one-man-rule</a></span>. He has concentrated all powers—political, economic, cultural, religious, and military—in his own hands <span><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/things-go-bump-night-riyadh-1511882449">to an unprecedented level</a></span> <em>even by Saudi absolute monarchy’s standards, </em>which is precisely what the Arab Spring revolted against.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">“Mohammad bin Salman” next to “Arab Spring” is either an oxymoron or an antithesis</p> <p class="western">This “liberal reformer” is one who mercilessly suppresses dissent, eradicates any form of opposition (even potential) through a wave of <span><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/night-long-knives-saudi-arabia-1884539620">purges</a></span>, silences critics, and cracks down on <span><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/09/saudi-arabia-arrest-of-two-prominent-activists-a-deadly-blow-for-human-rights/">human rights activists</a></span>, <span><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arrests-twitter-salman-supporter-latest-wave-491888391">judges</a></span>, intellectuals, <span><a href="http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1699">clerics, academics, and writers</a></span>—under the usual alibi of “<span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-arrests.html?mtrref=groups.google.com&amp;gwh=C17CD6244F72266F7CED56B84F9C2721&amp;gwt=pay">national security</a></span>” that every autocrat and tyrant out there now conveniently uses. Even <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/night-long-knives-saudi-arabia-1884539620"><span><em>insufficiently enthusiastic shows of suppor</em></span><span>t</span></a> are not tolerated. Friedman describes as “liberal” and “open” a despot who has actually <span><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/09/saudi-arabia-wave-of-arrests-targets-last-vestiges-of-freedom-of-expression/">eliminated whatever was left</a></span> of freedom of expression in the KSA while allegedly having his security forces <span><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-senior-figures-tortured-and-beaten-saudi-purge-1489501498">beat up and torture</a></span> businessmen and investors (including fragile old men in their 60s) to make them reveal the details of their accounts so he can confiscate their assets. </p> <p class="western">In a nutshell, “Mohammad bin Salman” next to “Arab Spring” is either an oxymoron or an antithesis. Behind his civil, mild-mannered exteriors and charming smile, Mohammad bin Salman is by far the worst, most extremist totalitarian despot in the history of Saudi Arabia.</p> <p class="western">Nonetheless, he has been praised lavishly in western media for his projects of cultural reforms such as allowing women to drive (starting in June 2018, it is not even done yet) and attend games in sports stadiums, authorizing some concerts once in a while, or opening some more movie theaters, “<span><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-entertainment/saudi-entertainment-chief-sees-cinemas-returning-eventually-idUSKBN17T2WP">one day</a></span>”. Though such novelties are presented as major cultural revolutions—by Saudi standards—and are certainly welcome by the bored Saudi youth, they are hardly as groundbreaking or revolutionary as we are invited to believe. </p> <p class="western">Take the whole hype about movie theaters: there is already one IMAX theater in Saudi Arabia, video rental stores appeared there as early as the 1980s, and Saudis have been watching movies of all sorts for ages on satellite TV channels, the internet, smartphones and DVDs. Besides, it will be interesting to see <em>what kind of films </em>are allowed in those new movie theaters. The authorized selection, which will no doubt be in the hands of some state censorship committee, will probably look bleak to a true cinephile!</p> <p class="western">Friedman doesn’t even see the irony of praising “men-only concerts” and “women-only classical opera” as major revolutions! </p> <p class="blockquote-new">“<span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/opinion/saudi-prince-mbs-arab-spring.html?action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=opinion-c-col-left-region&amp;region=opinion-c-col-left-region&amp;WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&amp;_r=0"><em>It blew my mind</em></a></span><em> to learn that you can hear western classical music concerts in Riyadh now, that country singer Toby Keith held a men-only concert here in September, where he even sang with a Saudi, and that Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji will be among the first woman singers to perform a women-only concert here on Dec. 6.” </em> </p> <p class="western">Lost in his western-centric little bubble, feeling superior and important, neither does he realize how patronizing, paternalistic, chauvinistic and condescending some of his remarks can be </p> <p class="blockquote-new"><em>"Saudi Arabia would have a very long way to go before it approached anything like western standards for free speech and women’s rights."</em> </p> <p> Middle East scholar Madawi Al-Rasheed, who unlike Friedman shows an independent and critical free spirit on this, eloquently <span><a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/saudi-regime-has-always-been-staunch-enemy-moderate-islam-1447595371">asks</a></span>: </p> <p class="blockquote-new"> “<em>Does this moderate Islam mean the abolition of the death penalty, prohibiting polygamy, allowing religious debate on hereditary rule, the nature of Islamic government, and the illegitimacy of monarchy in Islam? Does moderate Islam mean allowing civil society and trade unions to flourish as these are modern versions of the old Islamic guilds that protected society, professionals, and craftsmen against the excesses of power and abuse? Does this projected moderate Islam mean real consultation, shura, that translates into an elected national assembly, representative government, and a constitution akin to the old documents of Madina where the Prophet Muhammad established the first Islamic state? Far from it. The prince's moderate Islam is a new specific project in which dissenting voices are silenced, activists are locked behind bars, and critics are forced into submission. It is a moderate Islam that ironically justifies, sanctions and praises the most radical government practices. But note that this moderate religion has ample scope for entertainment, fun and leisure.”</em></p> <p> Or to save time, one could simply have asked one rhetorical question: will our oh-so-liberal Islamic reformist and enlightened sovereign, who allegedly desires to “open” the Saudi society and put an end to “radical Islam”, allow freedom of religions to exist in his kingdom? Or short of that, will he at least allow the mere existence of an opposition? Though, for that last question, we got the answer through his repeated purges and waves of repression. </p> <p> will he allow demonstrations to take place? Or will he allow the public practice of freedom of religion, the absence of which his own ally, the <span><a href="https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2005/51609.htm">U.S. State Department</a> </span><span>has strongly criticised?</span> </p> <p class="western">Those are certainly not the kind of questions we can imagine Friedman asking his Saudi host. We all know the answers, and that too puts in perspective MBS’ alleged Islamic “moderation” and liberalism, whose limits are reached quickly and which boil down to allowing some more fun and entertainment in order to pacify the Saudi youth or keep it quiet. </p> <p class="western">All those realities clash diametrically with the propaganda motif of “MBS, a liberal, moderate, reformist Prince”</p> <h3> <strong>Friedman and MBS’ pseudo women’s lib’</strong></h3> <p class="western">Friedman’s vision of women emancipation is equally laughable and as typically western and chauvinistic as the rest, not to mention how easily and obviously manipulated (with his full consent) he is by MBS and his entourage, who must have had a good laugh at their NY Times guest after his visit. </p> <p class="blockquote-new"><em>"Then one of his ministers got out his cellphone and shared with me pictures and YouTube videos of Saudi Arabia in the 1950s — women without heads covered, wearing skirts and walking with men in public, as well as concerts and cinemas. It was still a traditional and modest place, but not one where fun had been outlawed, which is what happened after 1979." </em> </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Besides the poor writing (“women without heads covered”?), Friedman, who claims to have been traveling there “for 30 years” and presents himself as some Middle East expert, was apparently not even aware of those facts. He had to wait until 2017 to discover, all amazed at that revelation, what anyone a tad knowledgeable about Saudi Arabia had always known.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Furthermore, for Friedman like for most pseudo-feminists or feminist wannabees, freedom means no hijabs, no traditional or visible Islamic outfits, and instead: skirts, hair, and "fun". This shallow conformist ideologue also doesn’t even try to conceal his classism and open contempt for the more conservative rural areas:</p> <p class="western"><em>"Alas, who Saudi Arabia is also includes a large cohort of older, more rural, more traditional Saudis, and pulling them into the 21st century will be a challenge."&nbsp;</em> </p> <p class="western">Oh, those old backward retarded peasants who may ruin our party and most likely do not even "talk the language of high tech" like all those wonderfully "young" people around him at MBS’ court... If only they could just drop dead or evaporate in the air!</p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">In passages such as those, Friedman reveals that far from being this hypermodern, future-oriented, visionary Alvin Toffler type he tries to be and who will explain to us the present and future shocks, he is actually a crude reincarnation of the west’s archaic <em>civilizing mission</em> towards the “inferior Arabs”: gotta’ educate those backwards folks and do so in alliance with their local despots, while “liberating their oppressed women” too by helping them show some hair and ankles, like ours, free women, proudly do!</p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">But the real ignorant here is Friedman himself, not those rural populations he so obviously despises without even knowing them. Friedman’s trips and interests in foreign populations are usually limited to a few encounters with members of the economic and political elite, plus chatting informally and randomly with “personal friends” who think like him or some cab drivers, then presenting this as if it were worthwhile sociological analysis.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">But to come back to our real <em>power that be</em>, MBS’ cultural reforms, refreshing as they may be to a young population who needs to breathe better in that society, are hardly anything more than classic pacification at a moment when some of the Saudi youth has become a bit restless about austerity measures, lack of jobs and uncertain future or aspires to the western-style instant gratification hedonistic fun they see in the media and experience during their travels abroad.</p> <p class="western">Even the future driving permit for women was announced the same day as the arrest of 11 princes and hundreds of Saudi businessmen, in a clear attempt to divert the attention from this latest crackdown (and from the confiscation of the fortunes of those arrested without any hint of where exactly, in whose pockets those billions are going). </p> <p class="western">But here is another development Friedman did not mention, whether due to sloppiness or ignorance: France’s top daily Le Monde reported that the very <em>same</em> day His Highness announced he would be lifting the driving ban, each of the initial group of 15 courageous women drivers/activists who challenged the ban were summoned one by one by the Saudi authorities and were ordered to no longer talk to the media without the prior approval of His Highness. This took place in the night of September 26-27, a few hours after the announcement that the ban would be lifted. Before that, the announcements on the forthcoming lifting of the driving ban <span><a href="http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1699">coincided with crackdowns, arrests, and kidnappings</a></span> of human rights defenders, in a clear, cynical attempt to create smokescreens and diversion.<br /> <br /> 3 of those 15 women testified to Le Monde, on condition of anonymity since they too are being closely monitored now.&nbsp;They specified that the order not to talk was "serious" and was communicated to them in a "threatening manner and tone". Most of them have now stopped tweeting and refuse to talk to the media.&nbsp;Even those who accept only do so reluctantly, insisting on absolute anonymity. One of them, Tamador Al-Yami, tweeted on her personal account: "For reasons beyond my control, I can no longer continue to comment on the lifting of the ban."<br /> <br /> On the other hand, the government is summoning those other women who support MBS (for example those appointed to his councils) to talk to the media and praise <em>him</em> for having granted this right to women.<br /> <br /> The activists who were interviewed explained that the reason for censoring their free speech and banning them from the media was to allow MBS to take all the credit for the measure, to be perceived as the one who initiated it and as a benign "liberal reformist" or “good king”, and above all (they all concurred on this) to avoid spreading the notion that grassroots activism like theirs could indeed force the Saudi regime to grant such measures: "They are afraid that if people see our campaign has been successful, it will open more doors and people will realize public pressure can indeed bring about change", they say.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> That about puts this whole “liberal reform” and driving permit thing into perspective. But don’t expect to find any of it in a Friedman’s column. As those women said, he indeed gives all the credit of that future measure exclusively to MBS without mentioning even once the major role played by those courageous activists, who, as Madawi Al-Rasheed writes, “will probably also be allowed to drive themselves to jail if they criticize Mohammed ben Salman”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alain-gabon/saudi-arabia-s-crown-prince-mohammad-bin-salman-threat-not-reform">Not a Saudi ‘Arab spring’: Mohammad Bin Salman, a threat not a reformer [Part 2]</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/erwin-van-veen/return-of-authoritarianism-is-priming-middle-east-for-more-con">The return of authoritarianism is priming the Middle East for more conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ebrahim-deen-matshidiso-motsoeneng/all-hail-real-king-saudi-mbs-salman">All ‘hail’ the real king</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/beverley-milton-edwards/saudi-arabia-middle-east-salman-iran-corruption-washington-power">Contagion effect and the Saudi grand game in the Middle East</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Saudi Arabia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Saudi Arabia Democracy and government Democracy dictatorship Journalism MBS Alain Gabon Fri, 05 Jan 2018 09:09:03 +0000 Alain Gabon 115505 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ¿Por qué lanzamos openMedia? https://www.opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/Por%20qu%C3%A9%20lanzamos%20openMedia/node/115222/edit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Olvídense de las noticias falsas. El gran capital está distorsionando la libertad de prensa de manera mucho más inquietante: a través de los anuncios publicitarios y mediante la compra de silencios. Esto es lo que nosotros vamos a hacer al respecto. <strong>(</strong><a style="text-decoration-line: underline; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/mary-fitzgerald/pourquoi-nous-lan-ons-openmedia">French</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerlad/mi-rt-ind-tjuk-tj-ra-az-openmedia-kezdem-nyez-st">Hungarian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/perch-stiamo-lanciando-openmedia">Italian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/welcome-to-openmedia">English</a></span><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/waarom-wij-openmedia-lanceren">Dutch</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/warum-wir-openmedia-ins-leben-gerufen-haben">German</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/openmedia-Serbian">Serbian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/openmedia-1">Russian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">.)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563300/unnamed_7_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hombre leyendo un periódico, 21 de mayo de 2012. Imagen de Flickr / Frank Knaack </span></span></span></p><p>Todos creemos saber lo que son las <em>fake news,</em> las "noticias falsas". Pero es muy probable que tu percepción al respecto varíe según si apoyas o detestas a Donald Trump, si votaste a favor o en contra del Brexit, o de quiénes son tus amigos en Facebook. En menos de 18 meses, el término ha sido tan usado y abusado que de le ha despojado de todo significado:</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!</p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/915539424406114304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote> <script charset="utf-8"></script><p>(<em>Uau! Cuántas historias de Fake News tenemos hoy. No importa lo que yo diga o lo que haga, no escribirán ni dirán la verdad. ¡Fake News! ¡Los medios están fuera de control!)</em></p><h2><strong>Cuando sin noticias es noticia, patrocinado por HSBC&nbsp; </strong></h2><p>Pero ya en 2015, antes de que las 'noticias falsas' fueran cosa conocida, una historia muy real irrumpió en el sitio web de openDemocracy . La dimisión explosiva Peter Oborne del Daily Telegraph, alegando que el periódico había suprimido las investigaciones sobre el banco HSBC, que era un gran anunciante del Telegraph, se convirtió en noticia a nivel mundial.&nbsp;</p><p>El señor Oborne , uno de los comentaristas políticos conservadores más conocidos del Reino Unido, también reveló que este tipo de "protección" editorial se extendía a varios de los principales clientes publicitarios del Daily Telegraph, incluidas empresas como Tesco, el gigante de los supermercados en el Reino Unido. Jay Rosen en NYU lo llamó:</p><p>“Una de las cosas más importantes que un periodista haya escrito sobre el periodismo últimamente, y las revelaciones provocaron que varios periodistas que trabajaban en otros medios acudieran a openDemocracy con historias similares sobre interferencia editorial, o de 'relieve', de los que hablaremos más abajo.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>¿Qué pasó después? Sabemos que la historia tuvo un fuerte impacto interno en el Daily Telegraph, incluso tras emitir sus desmentidos. Fuentes internas han confirmado que a raíz del escándalo algunos ejecutivos del Daily Telegraph han estado menos dispuestos a publicar historias desfavorables para los anunciantes, y el periódico se comprometió públicamente a establecer nuevas pautas para que los empleados refuercen la independencia de la publicidad editorial.</p> <p>Tras las acusaciones de que <a href="http://www.adweek.com/digital/after-removing-article-critical-dove-buzzfeed-says-it-wants-avoid-publishing-hot-takes-164001/">había eliminado dos artículos desfavorables para los anunciantes</a>, Buzzfeed fue criticado y se vio obligado a aclarar su política. Y salieron a la luz <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/fallout-from-oborne-files">más denuncias</a> de otros periodistas, lo que incitó a muchos más a investigar la implicación del Daily Telegraph con una serie de importantes anunciantes. Mientras tanto, The Guardian reveló que, al parecer, HSBC había intentado aplicar <a href="http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/hsbc-advertiser-you-cannot-afford-offend-stops-advertising-guardian">una presión similar</a> sobre ellos para detener una investigación que resultaba profundamente dañina para el banco.</p> <p>También sabemos que, efectivamente, el 'impacto' no pasó de aquí. Y que las, con bastante celeridad volvieron su curso habitual: <em>business as usual.</em></p> <h2><strong>Nuestros pequeños secretos sucios</strong></h2><p>El problema de que hay intereses creados que influyen en las informaciones, &nbsp;en la decisión de sobre qué se informa y de cómo se hace, es antiguo. Ha sido<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/eic-blog/mary-fitzgerald/our-dirty-little-secrets"> el pequeño y sucio secreto</a> del periodismo durante largo tiempo. Pero con el colapso de los modelos tradicionales de ingresos de los medios, ha aumentado dramáticamente en los últimos años la presión para inclinarse ante los anunciantes y ante los propietarios corporativos.</p><p>Esta dinámica de poder tóxico puede obstaculizar las investigaciones sobre bancos, grandes farmacéuticas, agronegocios, gigantes de combustibles fósiles, compañías de energía y muchos más.</p><p>1. Véase el informe de Crina Boros sobre cómo se compraron grandes partes de los medios rumanos sobre la controvertida mina Rosia Montana.</p><p>2. Vea nuestro proyecto <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/climateunspun">Climate Unspun</a>, que analiza cómo las empresas de combustibles fósiles gastaron mucho en espín y relaciones públicas durante la cumbre climática de París.</p><p>3. Vea la <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/b57fee24-cb3c-11e5-be0b-b7ece4e953a0">respuesta hilarante</a> de Lucy Kellaway a un ejecutivo de relaciones públicas que quiso interferir en el Financial Times.</p><p>Dicho esto, relativamente pocos periodistas están dispuestos a hablar públicamente sobre lo que sucede entre bambalinas. Para muchos, las consecuencias profesionales son demasiado desalentadoras.</p><p>Y luego está el lado más suave de todo esto: el crecimiento del contenido patrocinado o 'publicidad nativa', que puede ser difícil de distinguir de otros contenidos informativos. Estas técnicas de comercialización son favorecidas por una gama de industrias, que incluyen las de productos farmacéuticos, energía, salud y belleza y alimentación. Por ejemplo, esta serie de publirreportajes descarados y <a href="https://www.behance.net/gallery/8597069/Nestle-advertorials">completamente anónimos para Nestlé</a> trata de alentar a las madres a usar sus productos después de haber tenido a sus bebés por cesárea. Incluso cuando uno piense que algo pudo haberse publicado simplemente para promocionar un producto o un servicio, a menudo resulta difícil de verificar.&nbsp;</p><p>De la misma manera, es raro que los periodistas declaren quién pagó sus viajes de prensa. Muchos reporteros también desempeñan ahora el doble papel de producir contenido patrocinado y contenido regular de noticias para los medios de comunicación, lo que desdibuja aún más las líneas entre publicidad / promoción y periodismo.</p><p>En todo el mundo, un grupo de vigilantes y ONG están haciendo un excelente trabajo, destacando las amenazas a la seguridad de los periodistas y desafiando las leyes que limitan la libertad de prensa. Sin embargo, no existe el mismo enfoque concertado y constante sobre el alcance y efectos de la influencia comercial sobre los medios de comunicación, a pesar de sus graves consecuencias para la libertad de prensa.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Presentamos openMedia&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>Es por todo esto por lo que hemos lanzado openMedia: un proyecto para investigar y exponer la interferencia comercial en decisiones editoriales en 47 países de Europa, y con la ambición de expandirse más allá de este continente a su debido tiempo. Soñamos con este proyecto antes de que apareciesen Trump, Brexit y la manía de las noticias falsas de los últimos 18 meses. Pero los acontecimientos no han hecho más que demostrar la acuciante necesidad de tratar este asunto.</p><p>El equipo del proyecto openMedia, compuesto por mí mismo, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/james-cusick">James Cusick</a> y <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/crina-boros">Crina Boros</a>, además de nuestros socios del proyecto como el Index on Censorship, el King's College London, y la Federación Europea de Periodistas, estamos todo comprometidos a investigar los prejuicios comerciales y la censura en los medios. Expondremos los abusos de poder de los que no se informa lo suficiente, y sacaremos a la luz casos en los que las líneas entre el contenido patrocinado o pagado se han difuminado con la recopilación transparente de noticias y el periodismo libre.</p><p>Para ser claros, no se trata solo de exponer aquí el mal periodismo o aquellos medios de comunicación 'comprometidos' por sus intereses financieros, o incluso sus instintos de supervivencia. Si uno le pregunta a muchos periodistas de qué historias están más orgullosos, siempre encontrarán que hay por lo menos una de la que resultó un cambio positivo. Queremos inspirar a los muchos periodistas que saben qué historias son de interés público y les damos la posibilidad de informar con libertad y precisión. Y queremos fomentar el tipo de denuncias que conducirían a una prensa más libre y con mejores recursos.</p><p>Pero tampoco nos detendremos ahí. Nuestros socios en el King's College London también desarrollarán herramientas digitales destinadas a ayudar a los lectores a tomar decisiones mejor informadas sobre sus fuentes de noticias, y empoderar a los periodistas para que aboguen por la transparencia en sus organizaciones de noticias. Y usaremos nuestros hallazgos para hacer campaña a favor de una mayor transparencia en la industria de los medios y a favor de la libertad de prensa.</p><p>Pero para hacer todo eso, necesitamos la ayuda del mayor número posible de periodistas en activo. openMedia está llevando a cabo una encuesta confidencial y anónima a periodistas en toda Europa, preguntando sobre las prácticas laborales y sus propias experiencias de presión financiera en el interior de las salas de redacción.&nbsp;</p><p>Hasta el momento, las respuestas indican que las empresas farmacéuticas, las empresas de construcción, las empresas de tecnología de la información y los gigantes de la energía ejercen una gran influencia sobre qué noticias se publican y cuáles no. Algunos encuestados han hablado de la autocensura o, incluso, de que se les pide que no investiguen a un socio publicitario importante. En muchos países, los periodistas han indicado que los intereses políticos y comerciales, a menudo entrelazados, tienen un impacto en lo que no se publica.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Hacemos público nuestro proyecto y hoy pedimos a tantos periodistas como sea posible que completen nuestra encuesta y nos digan lo que saben, anónimamente si lo desean. Sin aportar evidencia de lo que está sucediendo y dónde, no podemos ignorar lo que está sucediendo en la industria y abogar por una mejor libertad de prensa y una mayor independencia financiera para los medios.</p><p> Y lo que es más importante, ante cualquier cosa tenga que decirnos, nosotros protegeremos escrupulosamente su identidad y su información. Los periodistas de toda Europa ya nos están contando cosas porque confían en nosotros, y saben que no haremos nada para poner en peligro sus puestos de trabajo o su seguridad. Por ejemplo, nuestros socios de King's College London pueden usar su software de monitoreo de medios para comprobar los hechos y comprobar confidencialmente la veracidad de la información que nos proporcione, sin que sus empleadores ni nadie más sepa que usted ha compartido esta información. </p><p>Encontrará más información a continuación - alternativamente, puede compartir información y documentos con nosotros directamente aquí.</p><p>Por favor comparte esto ampliamente, y particularmente con cualquier periodista que conozcas. Gracias</p> <h2 class="blockquote-new"><span style="font-style: normal;"><b>¿Cuán libre es nuestra prensa? </b></span></h2> <p class="blockquote-new">¿Eres un periodista en activo? ¿Quieres que exista mejor protección y más libertades para los reporteros? Si es así, por favor responda a nuestra encuesta (anónimamente si lo desea). Estamos llevando a cabo investigaciones en 47 países europeos para analizar cómo las presiones financieras están condicionando la forma de los medios, y trataremos toda información de manera estrictamente confidencial.</p><p class="blockquote-new">Puedes completar la encuesta <strong><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Spanish">aquí</a>.</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openmedia/crina-boros-james-cusick/bought-and-paid-for-how-romania-s-media-is-pressured-by-corporate-and-polit">Bought and paid for – how Romania’s media is pressured by corporate and political masters</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openmedia/james-cusick/good-bad-and-ugly-new-commercial-masters-of-branded-newsroom">The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the new commercial masters of the ‘branded’ newsroom </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/ed-jones/five-reasons-why-we-don-t-have-free-and-independent-press-in-uk-and-what-we-can-do-about">Five reasons why we don’t have a free and independent press in the UK and what we can do about it </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Civil society openMedia journalism finance Journalism free speech media freedom openmedia open media free press Mary Fitzgerald Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:31:10 +0000 Mary Fitzgerald 115222 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Perché stiamo lanciando openMedia https://www.opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/perch-stiamo-lanciando-openmedia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Dimenticatevi ‘notizie false’. I grossi capitali stanno distorcendo la libertà di stampa in modo molto più sinistro – con gli ‘advertorial’, e comprando il silenzio. Ecco quello che faremo al riguardo.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700;">(</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/mary-fitzgerald/pourquoi-nous-lan-ons-openmedia">French</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerlad/mi-rt-ind-tjuk-tj-ra-az-openmedia-kezdem-nyez-st">Hungarian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/welcome-to-openmedia">English</a>,</span><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/Por%20qu%C3%A9%20lanzamos%20openMedia/node/115222/edit">Spanish</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/waarom-wij-openmedia-lanceren">Dutch</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/warum-wir-openmedia-ins-leben-gerufen-haben">German</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/openmedia-Serbian">Serbian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/openmedia-1">Russian</a><span style="color: #434343; font-weight: 700; font-style: italic;">.)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563300/unnamed_7_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563300/unnamed_7_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Uomo che legge un giornale, 21 Maggio 2012. Immagine di Flickr/Franck Knaack.</span></span></span></p><p>Tutti pensiamo di sapere cosa sono le "notizie false". Ma sia che sostenete o detestate Donald Trump, avete votato a favore o contro la Brexit, e con chi siete amici su Facebook, è molto probabilmente in grado di modellare la vostra percezione. In meno di 18 mesi, il termine è stato usato ed abusato così tanto che ha perso ogni significato:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!</p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/915539424406114304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote> <script charset="utf-8"></script> <h2><strong>Quando nessuna notizia è notizia, sponsorizzata da HSBC</strong></h2><p>Nel 2015, prima che la 'notizia falsa' fosse un fenomeno, una vera e propria storia è uscita sul sito di openDemocracy. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph">L'esplosiva dimissione</a> di Peter Oborne dal Daily Telegraph, secondo il quale il giornale aveva soppresso indagini su HSBC, un importante inserzionista del Telegraph, ha fatto notizia a livello globale.</p> <p>Oborne, uno dei più noti commentatori politici conservatori del Regno Unito, ha anche rivelato che questo tipo di ‘protezione’ editoriale si estendeva ad altri importanti clienti pubblicitari del Telegraph, tra cui il gigante del supermercato Tesco. Jay Rosen della NYU l’ha descritto "una delle cose più importanti che un giornalista ha scritto sul giornalismo recentemente" e le rivelazioni hanno spinto altri giornalisti che lavorano in altri media a venire da noi con storie di interferenze editoriali simili – o "miglioramento", di cui sotto.</p> <p>Cosa è successo dopo? Sappiamo che la storia ha avuto un impatto interno al Telegraph, anche quando hanno rilasciato smentite. Fonti interne hanno confermato che alcuni dirigenti del Telegraph erano meno disposti a buttare via storie sfavorevoli agli inserzionisti sulla scia dello scandalo, e il giornale si è impegnato pubblicamente a nuove linee guida per i dipendenti per rafforzare l'indipendenza del contenuto giornalistico dalla pubblicità.</p> <p>Buzzfeed si è trovato sotto attacco ed è stato costretto a chiarire le sue politiche dopo le accuse di aver <a href="http://www.adweek.com/digital/after-removing-article-critical-dove-buzzfeed-says-it-wants-avoid-publishing-hot-takes-164001/">cancellato due articoli sfavorevoli agli inserzionisti</a>. A<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/fallout-from-oborne-files">ltre accuse</a> sono venute alla luce da altri giornalisti, che hanno spinto anche altri ad indagare sul coinvolgimento del Telegraph con altri importanti inserzionisti. Nel frattempo il Guardian ha rivelato che HSBC aveva, apparentemente, cercato di <a href="http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/hsbc-advertiser-you-cannot-afford-offend-stops-advertising-guardian">applicare pressioni simili</a> su di loro per fermare un'indagine che era estremamente dannosa per la banca.</p> <p>Sappiamo anche che, in effetti, è qui dove l'impatto è finito. E che abbastanza velocemente, le cose erano tornate come al solito.</p> <h2><strong>I nostri sporchi piccoli segreti</strong></h2> <p>Il problema degli interessi che influenzano il reporting – decidere cosa viene scritto e come – è antichissimo. È stato il <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/eic-blog/mary-fitzgerald/our-dirty-little-secrets">piccolo segreto sporco</a> del giornalismo da molto tempo. Con il crollo dei tradizionali modelli di reddito dei media, la pressione di piegarsi agli inserzionisti e ai proprietari dei media<strong> </strong>è aumentata drammaticamente negli ultimi anni.</p> <p>Questa dinamica di potere tossica può ostacolare le indagini su banche, grandi case farmaceutiche, industrie agroalimentari, giganti di combustibili fossili, aziende energetiche e molti altri.</p> <ol><li>Vedi il rapporto odierno di Crina Boros su come <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/crina-boros-james-cusick/bought-and-paid-for-how-romania-s-media-is-pressured-by-corporate-and-polit#node-114838">gran parte dei media rumeni sono stati acquistati</a> sulla controversa miniera Rosia Montana.</li><li>Vedi il nostro progetto Climate Unspun che ha analizzato come le aziende di combustibili fossili <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/climateunspun">hanno speso grandi</a> cifre per le PR durante il summit sul clima di Parigi.</li><li>Vedi l'esilarante <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/b57fee24-cb3c-11e5-be0b-b7ece4e953a0">risposta di Lucy Kellaway</a>, nel Financial Times, a un dirigente che interferiva.</li></ol> <p>Detto questo, relativamente pochi giornalisti sono disposti a parlare pubblicamente di ciò che accade dietro le quinte. Per molti, le conseguenze professionali sono troppo pesanti.</p> <p>C'è poi il lato più soft di tutto questo: la crescita di contenuti sponsorizzati o "pubblicità nativa", che può essere difficile da distinguere da altri contenuti di notizie. Queste tecniche di marketing sono favorite da molti settori, tra cui farmaceutico, energia, salute, bellezza e alimentazione. Anche quando sembra che qualcosa sia stato pubblicato per promuovere un prodotto o un servizio, spesso è difficile da verificare.</p> <p>Allo stesso modo, è raro che i giornalisti dichiarino chi ha pagato per i loro viaggi stampa. Molti reporter ora svolgono anche il duplice ruolo di produrre contenuti sponsorizzati e contenuti di notizie regolari per le agenzie di stampa, sfocando ulteriormente i confini tra pubblicità / promozione e giornalismo.</p> <p>Globalmente, ci sono i ‘watchdog’ e ONG che stanno facendo un lavoro eccellente mettendo in evidenza le minacce alla sicurezza dei giornalisti e sfidando le leggi che limitano la libertà di stampa. Tuttavia, non c’è la stessa attenzione sulla portata e gli effetti dell'influenza commerciale sui media – nonostante le gravi conseguenze per la libertà di stampa.</p> <h2><strong>Presentazione di openMedia</strong></h2> <p>Tutto questo è il motivo per cui abbiamo lanciato openMedia: un progetto per indagare ed esporre interferenze commerciali nelle decisioni editoriali in 47 paesi in Europa, e con l'ambizione di espandersi oltre questo continente a tempo debito. Abbiamo immaginato questo progetto prima di Trump, Brexit e della mania da 'notizie false' degli ultimi 18 mesi, ma gli eventi hanno solo reso più urgente la necessità di questo progetto.</p> <p>Il team del progetto openMedia – io, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/james-cusick">James Cusick</a>, e <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/crina-boros">Crina Boros</a>, oltre ai nostri partner del progetto Index on Censorship, King's College London, la federazione europea dei giornalisti – si sono impegnati a indagare su pregiudizi commerciali e la censura nei media. Esporremo abusi di potere che sono poco riportati, e porteremo alla luce i casi in cui le linee tra contenuti sponsorizzati o pagati sono stati confusi con la raccolta di notizie e il giornalismo.</p> <p>Per essere chiari, non si tratta solo di esporre cattivo giornalismo o media ‘compromessi’ dai loro interessi finanziari – o addirittura istinti di sopravvivenza. Se chiedete ai giornalisti di quali storie siano più orgogliosi, sarebbero quelle che hanno causato un cambiamento positivo. Vogliamo ispirare e spingere i numerosi giornalisti che conoscono quali storie sono di interesse pubblico, e consentirgli di riportare liberamente e con precisione. Vogliamo anche incoraggiare il tipo di 'whistle-blowing' che porterebbe ad una stampa più libera e con risorse migliori.</p> <p>Non ci fermeremo lì. I nostri partner del King's College London svilupperanno anche strumenti digitali volti ad aiutare i lettori a fare scelte più informate sulle loro fonti di notizie, ed ai giornalisti di promuovere la trasparenza presso le loro organizzazioni di stampa. Useremo anche le nostre scoperte per chiedere una maggiore trasparenza nel settore dei media, e libertà di stampa.</p> <p>Per fare tutto questo, abbiamo bisogno dell'aiuto di tutti i giornalisti possibili. OpenMedia sta conducendo <a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">un</a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian"> sondaggio</a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian"> </a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">confidenziale</a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian"> e anonim</a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">o</a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian"> </a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">con</a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian"> giornalisti </a><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">europei</a>, chiedendo informazioni sulle pratiche lavorative e le proprie esperienze di pressione finanziaria all'interno delle redazioni.</p> <p>Le risposte finora indicano che le imprese farmaceutiche, le imprese edili, le aziende IT e i colossi dell'energia esercitano un'influenza elevata su ciò che viene o non viene riportato su di loro. Alcuni partecipanti al sondaggio hanno parlato di auto-censura o addirittura di essere invitati a non perseguire un partner pubblicitario sostanziale. In molti paesi i giornalisti hanno indicato che gli interessi politici e commerciali, spesso intrecciati, hanno un impatto su ciò che non viene pubblicato.</p> <p>Stiamo rendendo pubblico il nostro progetto chiedendo oggi a più giornalisti possibili di <a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">prendere il nostro sondaggio</a> e dirci quello che sanno – in modo anonimo se lo desiderano. Non possiamo scoprire quello che sta succedendo nel settore, e sostenere una maggiore libertà di stampa e maggiore indipendenza finanziaria per i media, senza prove di ciò che sta succedendo – e dove.</p> <p>Molto importante sapere che indipendentemente da cosa volete dirci, proteggeremo la vostra identità ed informazioni. Giornalisti da tutta Europa ci stanno già parlando perché si fidano di noi – e sanno che non faremmo nulla che possa mettere a repentaglio il loro lavoro o la loro sicurezza. Per esempio, i nostri partner al King's College London possono usare il loro software di monitoraggio dei media, per <a href="http://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/policywonkers/was-peter-oborne-right-about-the-telegraphs-coverage-of-the-hsbc-scandal/">controllare accuratamente</a> quello che ci passate anonimamente o in modo confidenziale, senza che il vostro datore di lavoro o altri possano venire a sapere che avete condiviso informazioni con noi.</p> <p>Ulteriori informazioni sotto – altrimenti potete <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/info/share-information-with-opendemocracy">condividere informazioni e documenti con noi direttamente qui</a>.</p> <p>Condividete tutto questo, particolarmente con i giornalisti che conoscete. Grazie.</p> <div style="padding: 10px 20px 0; background-color: #fbf9f9; border-top: 4px #f3f0f0 dotted; border-bottom: 12px solid #e8e8e8;"><h2><span style="font-size: 25px;">Quanto è libera la nostra stampa?</span></h2> <div style="margin: 20px 8px 0;"> <div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr">Siete giornalisti? Volete vedere maggiori protezioni e libertà per i reporter?</div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; color: #222222;"><span style="font-size: 14px;">Se la risposta è si, <a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">partecipate al nostro sondaggio</a> (anonimamente se volete).&nbsp;Facciamo ricerca in 47 paesi europei analizzando come la pressione finanziaria cambia i media, e manterremo tutte le informazioni strettamente confidenziali.</span></span></div><div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" dir="ltr"><strong><a href="https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MediaFreedom2017_Italian">Link sondaggio</a></strong>→</div><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/welcome-to-openmedia">Why we&#039;re launching openMedia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openmedia/crina-boros-james-cusick/bought-and-paid-for-how-romania-s-media-is-pressured-by-corporate-and-polit">Bought and paid for – how Romania’s media is pressured by corporate and political masters</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openmedia/james-cusick/good-bad-and-ugly-new-commercial-masters-of-branded-newsroom">The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the new commercial masters of the ‘branded’ newsroom </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/ed-jones/five-reasons-why-we-don-t-have-free-and-independent-press-in-uk-and-what-we-can-do-about">Five reasons why we don’t have a free and independent press in the UK and what we can do about it </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/bryan-milakovsky/vesti-weapon-or-casualty">Vesti: Weapon or casualty in the information war?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/civicus/d-mundial-de-la-libertad-de-prensa-el-periodismo-est-siendo-asediado-en-to">Día mundial de la libertad de prensa – el periodismo está siendo asediado en todos los frentes </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Civil society openMedia freedom of speech media freedom open media Journalism journalism finance reporting financial pressure Mary Fitzgerald Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:29:53 +0000 Mary Fitzgerald 115219 at https://www.opendemocracy.net To become a bit more human: Review of Belén Fernández, “Letter from Iran” https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/julie-wark/to-become-bit-more-human-review-of-bel-n-fern-ndez-letter-from-ira <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In “<a href="http://theregion.org/article/11472-letter-from-iran-to-lebanon-and-back-part-i">Letter from Iran</a>” Belén Fernández reminds us that we—people everywhere—are not Washington cyphers but flesh-and-blood human beings who must keep being defiant in order to retain that status.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/2456073927_43d74162bd_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/2456073927_43d74162bd_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Esfahan, Iran. Picture by Nick Taylor / Flickr.com. Some rights reserved (CC BY 2.0)</span></span></span>As a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman represents the acme of establishment journalism. As the man who came up with the&nbsp;“Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention”, he might better fit W. B. Yeats’ depiction, viz. “There is nothing in [journalists] but tittering jeering emptiness.” Yet&nbsp;Friedman is actually much worse than a hamburger purveyor since, as Belén Fernández has scathingly demonstrated, he is&nbsp;<em><a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/1024-the-imperial-messenger">The Imperial Messenger</a></em>, complete with guerdons, garlands and garbling. Friedman’s Iran&nbsp;is only scantily parodied in the clever spoof&nbsp;<a href="http://thomasfriedmanopedgenerator.com/Iran%2527s%2BMoment%2Bc8ab36"><em>The New York Times</em>&nbsp;Op-Ed generator</a>&nbsp;as a country where&nbsp;“a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. […] If corruption is Iran’s curtain rod, then freedom is certainly its faucet.” What might a curtain rod and faucet have to do with Iran? Meaning here is overridden by function, something Karl Kraus warned of. A Friedman-style journalist “kills&nbsp;our imagination with his truth, he threatens our life with his lies”. One reads his rubbish and a desire to smack him red-mists any rational imagining of what he is actually saying. But the message being drummed in is that America must impose its “mindset” on those who are foreign to it, with nuclear weapons if necessary. He literally threatens everyone’s lives.</p> <p>Belén Fernández is another kind of journalist, more like that described by Marguerite Duras. “Every journalist is a moralist […], someone who takes a close look at things every day and reports what she sees […].” This journalist isn’t after establishment awards but offers a gift that only asks in return a response in the same coin: that we see ourselves and others as members of the same species, with the same rights, feelings, wishes, and dreams. Her journalistic standpoint is clear in her recent&nbsp;<a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/09/us-imperialism-new-york-times-journalism-turkey">review of Suzy Hansen’s&nbsp;<em>Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World</em></a>&nbsp;in which she writes that the self-critical Hansen&nbsp;“does the field of journalism a great service with her humility, introspection, and willingness to defy the establishment line.” Much the same could be said of Fernández who, a practitioner of what she preaches, finishes her review saying that the aim is&nbsp;“to become a bit more human”. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">"Letter from Iran" is much more than good journalism. It’s literature in the sense of lasting artistic merit.</p><p>Defiance means putting herself on the line and renouncing a stable home so in the first part of her travelogue she writes, “Having fled the US in 2003 in search of more hospitable lands that didn’t give me continuous panic attacks, I continued to eschew a fixed residence in favor of roaming” (and maybe the best kind of travel writer is a rootless one). She takes risks when traveling to “spots from Honduras to Kazakhstan” in order to discover what life is like for people in danger zones. She is footloose but not fancy-free, confirming again and again that if the Pentagon doesn’t distinguish between terrorists and goat herders and therefore kills&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147">1,147 people to get 41 men they have targeted</a>&nbsp;(in the sovereign soil of another country), ordinary people from&nbsp;<a href="http://theregion.org/article/11072-on-the-lebanon-israel-border-a-room-with-a-militarized-view">south Lebanon</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.guernicamag.com/belen-fernandez-waging-war-on-peace/">Colombia</a>&nbsp;can tell the difference between the American government and American citizens. “People opened their doors to me despite having had family members and property obliterated by US-backed military outfits—in these cases, the Israeli and Colombian armies.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Her&nbsp;three-part&nbsp;<a href="http://theregion.org/article/11472-letter-from-iran-to-lebanon-and-back-part-i">“Letter from Iran”</a>—“<a href="http://theregion.org/article/11472-letter-from-iran-to-lebanon-and-back-part-i">To Lebanon and Back</a>”, “<a href="http://theregion.org/article/11509-letter-from-iran-red-shi-039-ism-at-the-underground-bookfair-part-ii">Red Shi’ism at the Underground Bookfair</a>”, and “<a href="http://theregion.org/article/11545-letter-from-iran-under-the-shadow-of-the-assassins-039-castle-part-iii">Under the Shadow of the Assassins’ Castle</a>”—is much more than good journalism. It’s literature in the sense of lasting artistic merit. Rather than pushing any policy line, she’s telling macro and micro stories through people who embody history. Giving dignity to journalism she brings humanity to travel writing. People tend to travel to tell a story, often about “finding” themselves in strange lands. But traveling is also related with a human impulse that goes deeper than just gazing at strangers or using them as background in the selfie mirror, trying to identify who we think we are (or are&nbsp;<em>not</em>) because it’s one response to the great human question: who are we? If&nbsp;we have the empathy of a Belén Fernández we will discover that our humanity, the most valuable thing we have, may be found in abundance in a chance conversation with a stranger.</p> <p>Google-News Iran and you’ll find sanctions, Iranian warships heading for Mexico, expanding missile range, foreign prisoners… nothing friendly. So how does Belén Fernández talk about her experiences in Esfahan? To begin with, she doesn’t come on as an expert and is always respectful, letting the people from the country speak and reading its writers, weaving past and present together with the result that her account is not just anecdotal. With her gifts of observation, she “comes across” things. In other words, she recognises the value of what she sees, whether in the form of people or objects. She finds a “handy volume” called&nbsp;“<em>Esfahan: A Tiny Earthly Paradise”</em>, by Mahmoud Reza Shayesteh who argues that an expedition to the “half-world” requires a “quest for the second half of this world inside one’s self through a spiritual elevation… perhaps enabling one to embrace a world of perfection.” Fernández sees the city and its history through his gaze so, while half the world carries on about subjugating America-hating oil-rich lands with missiles and Golden Arches, she steps into the other half after all the trials and tribulations (involving a “short breakdown” in the Iranian embassy in Beirut) of getting a visa, and “[All] I got from the immigration official was a ‘welcome’. I got another one when my elderly taxi driver telephoned his daughter to have the sentiment translated into English.”&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">History has a bad habit of repeating itself where valuable resources are concerned.</p><p>Setting off to Naghsh-e Jahan Square, pride and joy of the Safavid era (1501 to 1722), she starts populating her chronicle with cameos of Esfahan’s inhabitants. Her nationality is a good talking point. On learning that he was talking to an American, one scarf merchant “burst into hysterical laughter and required several minutes to regain his composure, after which he asked how much my Asics sneakers cost in the U.S. and said he could procure identical ones for a fraction of the cost.” At Vank Cathedral in New Julfa, Esfahan’s Armenian quarter, a man refuses to believe she is American but then finds a satisfactory explanation: “You must be from one of the Minor Outlying Islands or something”. In an ice cream shop where she asks for tea there is no tea but the attendant excuses himself and comes back later with tea in a paper cup. He will not hear of her paying. In the bazaar opposite the Imam Mosque in Naghsh-e Jahan Square she acquires “a mound of turmeric and a tube of mascara” and, pondering what she has discovered in a book by historian Ervand Abrahamian about the enduring “vital link between mosque and bazaar”, pithily comments, “Unsurprisingly, the shah’s effective war on both of these institutions in the 1970s did little in the way of securing him in his post.”</p> <p> In Part Two of her travelogue, Fernández goes to buy a headscarf, meets the vendor’s friend Hadi, a bookshop owner, thanks to whom she discovers a second-hand book market in an underground car park on&nbsp;Taleghani Avenue. It is named after Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, supporter of Mohammad&nbsp;Mosaddeq who was overthrown in the 1953 American (“Operation Ajax”)/British (“Operation Boot”)/Anglo-Iranian Oil (now part of BP) coup because nationalised oil in Iran wasn’t the imperial plan.&nbsp;The response then is all-too familiar now:&nbsp;a blockade,&nbsp;cutting off exports of vital goods to Iran, freezing hard-currency accounts, and lobbying in the UN for anti-Iran resolutions.&nbsp;History has a bad habit of repeating itself where valuable resources are concerned.&nbsp;</p> <p> Still guide-less, Fernández introduces, in the third part of her travelogue, a young man called Hussein and his friends. They are all engaged in the illegal business called “couchsurfing”, which is to say “they and their couches or spare rooms hosted foreign visitors to the land”. One of Hussein’s friends, Hamid, has abandoned his former career as a volleyball player because of the sanctions which had severely cut funding for sports teams and, worse, caused the number of families living in poverty to rise from 22% to more than 40%, rocketing food prices, and a severe shortage of medicines and health supplies. Hamid has plenty of expletives for the Iranian, American, Russian, and Australian governments (“the last on account of the recent self-immolation of an Iranian refugee on Australia’s preferred island-prison of Nauru”), as well as for western Iranophobes who, he declares, would be much safer in Iran than in their own countries (except when crossing the road).</p> <p> At the Esfahan martyrs museum, Fernández is welcomed with gifts—a&nbsp;box of candy, a notebook featuring troops marching through sand against a starry background, a tiny book with a gold cover featuring the museum logo, and an imported “cocoa-coated biscuit”—by a warbling curator who lets her wander round alone.&nbsp;The museum offers remarkable English translations in the photo captions. One, for a man lying in a pool of blood, prompts her to wonder “whether there hadn’t been some deliberate acts of sabotage during the translating process” since it says, “Bloody prostrate: Visiting that ‘Single friend’ is much more pleasing in this position.” Hadi, the bookseller, is no fan of displays of martyrdom, seeing it as an imposed reminder of war when life should be lived without the constant presence of death. Yet he allows that it’s not just government propaganda because death has a “relative centrality” to the Iranian landscape.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Some politicians want all of us to be the children</p><p>The generous Hadi presents her with books and takes her to Soffeh Mountain, once site of the Assassins’ Castle, said assassins being members of the eleventh-century Shiite Nizari Ismaili sect. On the way, she learns something that most westerners would never have a chance of discovering in Iran. About Iraq. “[…] Hadi received a text message from a friend currently on a walking pilgrimage to the Iraqi city of Karbala […who] reported that the Iraqis he had encountered had been most hospitable, offering free accommodations, food, and in some cases even massages to the travelers.”</p> <p>At the end of her stay in Esfahan, Fernández honours her promise to the travel agent who waived the must-have-a-guide rule if she agreed to contract one for just a day. She then travels to the ancient Zoroastrian village of Abyaneh, famed for&nbsp;red clay architecture and its distinct language and dress. It is&nbsp;in the Natanz region which “occupies a special place in rightwing and Zionist lexicons, having been effectively contorted into a synonym for impending nuclear Armageddon […] in an attempt to add the Islamic Republic to Washington’s growing list of regional military targets”. The guide, Masoud, says that Donald Trump is a “<em>loulou</em>”, a bogeyman invoked to frighten children into obedience. Some politicians want all of us to be the children, although obedience to the now incumbent President of the United States wouldn’t bring peace and quiet. As the Iranian novelist and journalist&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/amir-ahmadi-arian/colonial-roots-of-trump-s-discourse-on-iran?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&amp;utm_campaign=ed430ba545-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-ed430ba545-407381927">Amir Ahmadi Arian</a>&nbsp;writes, citing Ta-Nehisi Coates, Trump is bent on annihilating Barack Obama’s Iran deal legacy, aided and abetted by his anti-Iran ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. They present Iranians as treacherous cheats, a stereotype with long roots going back to racist colonial caricatures. Arian suggests that one explanation for the origins of present-day Manichaean depictions is the myth of “Aryan” race. And Trump is the ultimate&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/05/what_aryans_see_in_donald_trump.html">Aryan warrior</a>&nbsp;who could lead the world into war on the basis of a colonial fabrication.</p> <p>Fernández ends her travelogue with the words, “As the U.S. strives to perfect its estrangement from human reality, at least we’ve still got the other half of the world”. Anyone reading her could add: as the press touts war-justifying bromides about devious Iranians, at least we’ve still got Belén Fernández who takes the trouble to enter the other half of the world and remind us that we—people everywhere—are not Washington cyphers but flesh-and-blood human beings who must keep being defiant in order to retain that status.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/amir-ahmadi-arian/colonial-roots-of-trump-s-discourse-on-iran">The colonial roots of Trump’s discourse on Iran</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/fazil-moradi/in-search-of-cardinal-virtues-in-iraq">In search of cardinal virtues in Iraq</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/why-i-write">Why I write</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia United States Iran Culture International politics Middle East Literature Journalism Julie Wark Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:25:34 +0000 Julie Wark 115252 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the new commercial masters of the ‘branded’ newsroom https://www.opendemocracy.net/openmedia/james-cusick/good-bad-and-ugly-new-commercial-masters-of-branded-newsroom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>openMedia pan-European survey throws up an early warning for the next generation of journalists.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563300/8573457815_cde872eb32_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Newspapers stand, March 19, 2013. Image by Flickr/(Mick Baker)rooster</span></span></span></p><p>If Fleet Street, or what’s left of the shrinking print collective, ever decides to open the equivalent of an advanced training college, it should be located somewhere which looks like Compton Sinbury.</p> <p>Scandal, secrets and sin, both venial and mortal, were the covert characteristics&nbsp; of novelist Guy Bellamy’s imaginary commuter village;&nbsp; a place where a potential page lead lurked round every corner and the twin curses of English civilisation, Christianity and journalism, lived side-by-side in grand delusion.</p> <p>But it’s the accidental modernity of Bellamy’s village that out-trumps any potential rival. If Rupert Murdoch lodged in a nearby grand manor house, or the Barclay twins occupied a Restoration palace on the parish borders, none of these grandees would add much to the cultural failures on show. As the cleric in the novel, Owen Gray, was told, “Reporters don’t believe in anything, vicar, it’s an article of faith.”</p> <h2><strong>Independence as a luxury</strong></h2> <p>With the government still wrestling with Murdoch’s latest power grab on the UK media, as British academics draw a deeply sloping graph line towards the Street’s financial funeral, and proprietors, boards or trusts either hold out their begging bowl or inflate cultural stereo-types in the vain hope they will appeal to dwindling readerships, the idea that belief or independent thought should be the business of&nbsp; news gatherers is almost becoming quaintly anachronistic. These are broad generalisations of course, and there are notable exceptions. But paid-for, untainted news, specifically gathered and analysed, rather than being cut and copied from elsewhere, is becoming a luxury product.</p> <p>Political or proprietorial loyalties were once explained away as simply tribal. And the old Fleet Street simply learned to live with the tangential and commercial realities of proprietorial pomp. Now harsher financial and ideological expectations are in play. What is written and how it’s written is not just about what’s out there. Instead content has become a driven derivative, ruled by commercial needs, party political worship, and, crucially, the reflex demands of suspect proprietors and their advertising directors. Content is now the prime territory of the marketing director; it is sponsored, monetised, sold at auction and branded.</p> <p>Desk editors once in charge of a specific domain, are now the sub-servants in a chain of command that reaches up and deep into the ad department. News and its tangential neighbours can now be bought, sponsored, flipped or, crucially, silenced.</p> <h2><strong>‘Peak ink’</strong></h2> <p>Just as oil companies have been pushed to environmental extremes to keep the cash flowing in the tough economic era that has followed “peak oil”, the shrinking of profits in the national news industry has brought about its own “peak ink” ethic. Gone is any firm divide between editorial and advertising. Almost gone is the need to offer a political balance on events or policy. And the neutral benevolent proprietor, if he ever existed? They have become almost a made-up character in highly-funded public relations operations – who fool only a few sycophants and committee advisers who bestow honours like cheap confetti.</p> <p>For the new-entrant reporter, who perhaps once thought the minute hand of history might be just as important as the hour hand, their critical sphere of work is largely centred on commercial obedience and the delivery of what is ask for. Freedom of expression and the choosing of targets is now a far-off fantasy for the crèches of cut-and-paste journalists; learning a craft is almost off-limits and instead their role is to serially mimic news written elsewhere and increase the clicks that please senior faux-editors who’ve long forgotten why they came to this industry in the first place.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>The new command structure, driven not by a sense of the public good but by either raw survival or old-fashioned greed, now involves the critical input of commercial directors. With traditional advertising seen as less effective, or capable of being ignored, editorial written by journalists rather than copy writers is seen as more effective in the capture of attention; with attention, however low and fleeting, now nothing less than news’ gold standard.</p> <p>This era of the implanted commercial message has already kicked off, and those journalists who challenge it risk losing their jobs.</p> <h2><strong>openMedia survey</strong></h2> <p>OpenDemocracy’s openMedia project – researching commersial pressures and patterns across European Council member states - is an attempt to map out and measure the extent of commercial influence. It looks beyond the simplistic idea of ‘fake’ news to asks how the era of&nbsp; ‘peak ink’ impacts the role of journalists across Europe.</p> <p>Early soundings from openMedia’s pan-European survey paints an uncomfortable picture. A third of those who responded indicated their publication consistently protects or promotes the various interests of companies and politicians. It shows self-censorship in play when the commercial adventures of proprietors come too close in an investigative project;&nbsp; with the ‘friends’ of the proprietor off-limits if anything negative is about to be written.</p> <h2><strong>Blurring the lines</strong></h2> <p>With the business model that once centred on steady streams of ad revenue and circulation income now in tatters in the advancing digital age, those industries prepared to pay well to control all aspects of content, including strategic silence - &nbsp;– big pharma, energy, construction, IT and tech – find themselves with paid-for power and no longer subservient to the trade cycle of rolling news. For reporters this can now mean a dual role as journalist and copy-writer, where a marked clarity between straight editorial and advertorial becomes blurred and the obligation to inform reader of where the divide falls doesn’t exist.&nbsp;</p> <p>Many reporters across Europe in the openMedia survey point to editors who simply forget, or no longer much care, where the divide now lies. And for those uneasy with the added role of ordered copy writer rather than career reporter? Journalists who responded in the survey, describe work-place tensions, the threat of dismissal and the acknowledgement that many feel overwhelmed at the increasing amount of work they are expected to carry out to keep jobs that are both scarce and low-paid.</p> <h2><strong>Transition and warning</strong></h2> <p>These are of course early days for an industry in transition. And the openMedia survey, due to the understandable hesitancy and fear-factor of employed journalists, will not be capable of laying out in full this evolutionary change. But the death of Fleet Street and its European equivalents, and the rise in influence of “content” no longer free from external commercial influence, comes with a potential high price.</p> <p>When those who consume news lose trust, and feel they can no longer distinguish between content that is being controlled for a price, and what is actually out there, there will be only one course of action. They will stop. Stop reading. Stop believing. In the process of extinction, there are always critical points where warnings should be listened to. This is one of them.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/times-misleads-its-readers-about-climate-denying-research">The Times continues to mislead its readers about climate change denial &#039;science&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Civil society openMedia branded content mass-media financial pressure commercial interference media freedom press freedom freedom of speech fake news Journalism James Cusick Wed, 29 Nov 2017 16:38:45 +0000 James Cusick 114975 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why we're launching openMedia https://www.opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/welcome-to-openmedia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Forget fake news. Money can distort media far more disturbingly – through advertorials, and through buying silence. Here’s what we’re doing about it.</p><p>(<a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/mary-fitzgerald/pourquoi-nous-lan-ons-openmedia">French</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerlad/mi-rt-ind-tjuk-tj-ra-az-openmedia-kezdem-nyez-st">Hungarian</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/perch-stiamo-lanciando-openmedia">Italian</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/Por%20qu%C3%A9%20lanzamos%20openMedia/node/115222/edit">Spanish</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/waarom-wij-openmedia-lanceren">Dutch</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/warum-wir-openmedia-ins-leben-gerufen-haben">German</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/openmedia-Serbian">Serbian</a><span style="font-style: italic;">,&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmedia/mary-fitzgerald/openmedia-1">Russian</a><span style="font-style: italic;">.)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563300/7245722402_51b4d7c661_k.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Man reading a newspaper, May 21, 2012. Image by Flickr/Frank Knaack</span></span></span></p><p>We all think we know what ‘fake news’ is. But whether or not you support or loathe Donald Trump, voted for or against Brexit, and who you’re friends with on Facebook is, of course, highly likely to shape your perception. In less than 18 months, the term has been so over-used and abused it has been stripped of all meaning:</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!</p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/915539424406114304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote> <h2><strong>When no news is news, sponsored by HSBC</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>But back&nbsp;2015, before ‘fake news’ was a thing, a very real story broke openDemocracy’s website. Peter Oborne’s <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph">explosive resignation</a> from the Daily Telegraph, alleging the paper had suppressed investigations into HSBC, a major advertiser with the Telegraph, made global headlines.&nbsp;</p> <p>Oborne, one of the UK’s best known conservative political commentators, also revealed that this type of editorial ‘protection’ extended to a number of the Telegraph’s other major advertising clients, including supermarket giant Tesco. Jay Rosen at NYU called it “one of the most important things a journalist has written about journalism lately”, and the revelations prompted a number of journalists working at other media outlets to come to us with similar tales of editorial interference – or ‘enhancement’, of which more below.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>What happened next? We know the story had an internal impact at the Telegraph, even as they issued denials. Internal sources have confirmed that some Telegraph executives were less willing to spike stories unfavourable to advertisers in the wake of the scandal, and the paper publicly committed to new guidelines for employees to reinforce the independence of editorial from advertising.</p> <p>Buzzfeed came under fire and was forced to clarify its policy after allegations it <a target="_blank" href="http://www.adweek.com/digital/after-removing-article-critical-dove-buzzfeed-says-it-wants-avoid-publishing-hot-takes-164001/">had deleted two articles unfavourable to advertisers</a>. And <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/fallout-from-oborne-files">more allegations</a> came to light from other journalists, which&nbsp;prompted others to investigate the Telegraph’s involvement with a number of major advertisers. Meanwhile the Guardian revealed that HSBC had, apparently, tried to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/hsbc-advertiser-you-cannot-afford-offend-stops-advertising-guardian">apply similar pressure</a> on them to halt an investigation that was deeply damaging to the bank.</p><p>We also know that, effectively, this is where the ‘impact’ ended. And that fairly quickly, things were back to business as usual.</p> <h2><strong>Our dirty little secrets</strong></h2> <p>The problem of vested interests influencing reporting – deciding what gets reported and how – is age old. It has been journalism’s <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/eic-blog/mary-fitzgerald/our-dirty-little-secrets">dirty little secret</a> for a long time. But with the collapse of traditional media revenue models, the pressure to bow to advertisers and corporate owners has increased dramatically in recent years.</p> <p>This toxic power dynamic can hinder investigations of banks, big pharma, agribusiness, fossil fuel giants, energy companies and many more. </p><ol><li>See Crina Boros’s report today on <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/crina-boros-james-cusick/bought-and-paid-for-how-romania-s-media-is-pressured-by-corporate-and-polit#node-114838">how large parts of the Romanian media were bought</a> over the controversial Rosia Montana mine.</li><li>See our Climate Unspun project analysing how <a target="_blank" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/climateunspun">fossil fuel companies spent big on spin</a> and PR during the Paris climate summit.</li><li>See Lucy Kellaway’s hilarious <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ft.com/content/b57fee24-cb3c-11e5-be0b-b7ece4e953a0">riposte to an interfering PR executive</a> in the FT.</li></ol> <p>That said, relatively few journalists are willing to speak publicly about what happens behind the scenes. For many, the professional consequences are too daunting.</p> <p>And then there’s the softer side of all of this: the growth of sponsored content or ‘native advertising’, which can be hard to distinguish from other news content. These marketing techniques are favoured by a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, energy, health &amp; beauty and food. Even when you think something might have been published to promote a product or service, it is often hard to verify.&nbsp;</p> <p>In much the same way, it’s rare for journalists to declare who paid for their press trips. Many reporters also now play the dual role of producing sponsored content and regular news content for news outlets, further blurring the lines between advertising / promotion and journalism.</p> <p>Across the world, a cadre of watchdogs and NGOs are doing excellent work highlighting threats to journalists’ safety and challenging laws that curtail press freedom. However, there is not the same concerted, ongoing spotlight on the extent and effects of commercial influence over the media – despite its grave consequences for press freedom.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Introducing openMedia&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>All of this is why we have launched openMedia: a project to investigate and expose commercial interference in editorial decisions across 47 countries in Europe, and with ambitions to expand beyond this continent in due course. We dreamed this project up before Trump, Brexit and the fake-news mania of the last 18 months. But events have only made the need more pressing.</p> <p>The openMedia project team – myself, <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/james-cusick">James Cusick</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://opendemocracy.net/author/crina-boros">Crina Boros</a>, plus our project partners Index on Censorship, King’s College London, the European Federation of Journalists – are committed to investigating commercial bias and censorship in media. We will expose abuses of power that go under-reported, and bring to light instances where the lines between sponsored or paid-for content have been blurred with newsgathering and journalism.</p> <p>To be clear, this isn’t just about exposing bad journalism or media outlets ‘compromised’ by their financial interests – or indeed survival instincts. If you ask many journalists which stories they are most proud of, it will be one where a positive change resulted. We want to inspire and energise the many reporters who know which stories are in the public interest, and empower them to report freely and accurately. And we want to encourage the kind of whistle-blowing that would lead to a freer, better resourced press.</p> <p>We won’t stop there, either. Our partners at King’s College London will also develop digital tools aimed at helping readers make better-informed choices about their news sources, and empowering journalists to advocate for transparency at their news organisations. And we will use our findings to campaign for greater media industry transparency and press freedom.</p> <p>But to do all of that, we need help from as many working journalists as we can.&nbsp;openMedia is conducting a confidential and anonymous survey of journalists across Europe, asking about working practices and their own experiences of financial pressure inside newsrooms.&nbsp;</p> <p>The responses so far indicate that pharmaceutical businesses, construction firms, IT companies and energy giants exert high influence on what news about them does and does not get reported. Some respondents have talked about self-censorship or even to being asked to not go after a substantial advertising partner. In many countries reporters have indicated that political and business interests, often intertwined, impact on what does not get published.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>We are going public with our project asking today for as many journalists as possible to take our survey and tell us what they know – anonymously if they wish. We can't blow a lid on what's happening across&nbsp;the industry, and advocate for better press freedom and more financial independence for media, without evidence of what's going on – and where.</p><p>Most importantly, whatever you have to tell us, we will strictly protect your identity and your information. Journalists from across Europe are speaking to us already because they trust us – and they know we will not do anything to imperil their jobs or their safety. For example, our partners at King’s College London can use their media monitoring software to <a href="http://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/policywonkers/was-peter-oborne-right-about-the-telegraphs-coverage-of-the-hsbc-scandal/">factcheck and prove</a> what you pass on to us confidentially, without employers or anyone else ever knowing you have shared this information.</p><p>More information below – alternatively you can <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/info/share-information-with-opendemocracy">share information and documents with us directly here</a></p><p>Please share this widely, and particularly with any journalists you know. Thank you.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/climate-change-reporting-for-sale">Climate change reporting for sale?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay-george-marshall/who-gets-to-decide-how-media-talks-about-climate-change">Who gets to decide how the media talks about climate change?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Civil society openMedia corporations: power & responsibility accountability freedom of speech fake news financial pressure press freedom commercian interference media freedom openmedia Journalism Mary Fitzgerald Wed, 29 Nov 2017 12:28:40 +0000 Mary Fitzgerald 114961 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The struggle for survival – what’s next for Syrian journalism? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/struggle-for-survival-what-s-next-for-syrian-journalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Media outlets, whether state-sponsored or opposition, often seek to send a specific message to a party through their articles, without complying to any kind of journalistic standards.&nbsp;<strong><span style="text-decoration-line: underline;"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">عربي</a></span></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-14105824_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-14105824_0.jpg" alt="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Syrian opponents are reporting news through their own made media units via social media websites in order to reflect the violence and incidents in Syria. Aleppo, Syria, on July 23, 2012. AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Most alternative media outlets in Syria that came to life after the outbreak of popular protests mid-March 2011, despite their multitude, haven’t offered a more professional alternative to that of state media.</p> <p>The media was controlled for decades by the mindset and ideology of Syria’s ruling party, which itself was deeply rooted in the state and society, and so refused to accept or even acknowledge the existence of the other, with only very rare exceptions. </p> <p>This contributed to the exclusion of journalists and writers from the opposition from Syrian media, and led them to write for Lebanese and Gulf newspapers. Some even resorted to using aliases in these newspapers for fear of arrest and harassment by security forces.</p> <p>Furthermore, the presence of non-governmental newspapers belonging to left-wing parties is almost unheard of, and some of the local Kurdish newspapers were banned by state security with very limited distribution. </p><p>For example, <em>Al-Hawar</em> Magazine has been published by the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria since the 1990s, in addition to other Kurdish newspapers and magazines by banned Kurdish parties.</p> <p>It is unfair to generalise in stating that all alternative media failed: some outlets succeeded while others didn't; but they did play an overall important role despite their often-limited capabilities in light of the state-imposed media blackout: these media sources presented a different perspective to the Syrian authorities' narrative, and they were, to some extent, able to show a part of what was happening in the country during that time.</p> <p>Sadly, most of the written content published by these media sources today appears to be closer to that of the state media in terms of form and quality, and often they rely in their articles on unidentified news sources for their information, in addition to often containing offensive and derogatory statements against specific Syrian entities. </p> <p>This means that such outlets, whether state-sponsored or opposition, often seek to send a specific message to a party through their articles, without complying to any journalistic standards that would supposedly force them to respect their profession.</p> <p>Although Syrian alternative media emerged independently and outside the parameters of professional journalism, these outlets now fall under the authority of their Arab and foreign donors, which in one way or another impose their conditions for publication based on their political interests. As a result, few of these outlets function with a high level of professionalism despite their potential capabilities.</p> <p>Thus, if any media outlet publishes a news story based on lies or rumours propagated by a journalist or reporter to attack another party – presumably an enemy - the outlet itself doesn’t correct the false news nor alert its readers of its inaccuracy, with only very few exceptions that try hard to relay the information to their readers and to correct it when necessary. </p> <p>This was evident in an article published by <em>Anab Baladi</em> Newspaper on the formation of a battalion of homosexuals fighting in the ranks of the Syria Democratic forces. The newspaper then published a <a href="https://www.enabbaladi.net/archives/163521">statement</a> by the forces denying such accusations, which is effectively the only way to gain readers that trust this media, even though some of these outlets are ruled by their financers’ policy rather than editorial policy.</p> <p>Such donors didn’t stop at making the media outlets biased towards or against certain political or military entities; they also contributed in some cases to the outlets’ use of unqualified journalists rather than professionals, who could have influenced these outlets.</p> <p>While this does not negate the heavy influence of the past several decades in which the ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party tightened its security grip on the media, Syrians have nonetheless been waiting and continue to wait for the media to be free of such disappointing influences.</p> <p>Finally, it must be said that any Syrian citizen or journalist has the right to report news unfolding before them via alternative media platforms, seeing as the Syrian state regularly refuses entry to journalists and media outlets into Syrian cities under military attack. </p> <p>However, it’s difficult for this citizen to transform into a professional journalist when working in institutions that fall under their donor’s authority and political agenda, without any adherence to professional journalistic work standards.</p> <p>The propagation of this mindset, which originated decades ago in Syrian state media, among those working in alternative media today, in addition to their lack of transparency, is what has led to a complete absence of professional Syrian journalism. This leads to many questions, including: what’s next for Syrian journalism?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syrian-cultural-policies-in-turkey-marginalization-continues-part-i">Syrian cultural work in Turkey: the marginalization continues – Part I</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syrian-cultural-policies-turkey-islamists-secularists-part-2">Syrian cultural policies in Turkey: Islamists and secularists beyond the wall – Part II</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ghost-with-red-nail-polish">A ghost with red nail polish</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D9%85%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B0-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B2%D8%B9%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9">استفتاء كردستان والمعارضة السورية: لا موقف.. موقف.. وتخبّط</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%88%D8%AF">نَمرةٌ تأكل أولادها الثلاثة من شدة الجوع في سوريا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%81%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7/%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81"> الربيع العربي..عودة للأسباب وتصحيح اتجاهات أصابع الاتهام</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Democracy and government Freedom of the press Journalism Citizen Journalism Mid-East Forum جوان سوز Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:36:30 +0000 جوان سوز 114870 at https://www.opendemocracy.net الإعلام في مصيدة الإيديولوجيا https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">الرفض لإعلام المواطن ينطوي على أزمة مفادها؛ أن الإعلام التقليدي يرفض تمثيل الناس لأنفسهم، بل ويصرّ على الضلوع في إنتاج هوية جمعية يرفضها العامة والغالبية.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/404426_10150613065799361_346231971_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rana Magdy. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/404426_10150613065799361_346231971_n.jpg" alt="Rana Magdy. All rights reserved." title="Rana Magdy. All rights reserved." width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rana Magdy. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>استناداً إلى مقولة عالم الاتصال شارل ماكلوهان "<a href="http://www.alarab.co.uk/article/morenews/107433/">الوسيلة هي الرسالة</a>". تحاول العديد من الدراسات حول الإعلام البديل في العالم (كتاب "أيديولوجيا شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي وتشكيل الرأي العام" تأليف معتصم بابكر مصطفى، مثالاً)، أن تثبت بأن المحتوى الذي يصنعه الصحفي المواطن، هو محتوى مؤدلج بطبيعته، رسالته بحد ذاتها مؤدلجة، ولا يمكن ركون الثقة إليها.</p><p dir="rtl">ونحن، وإن كنّا لا نقرأ هذا الكلام بصريح العبارة غالباً، إلا أننا نتداول أساليب حسابية تورطنا بهذه النتيجة حتماً.</p><p dir="rtl">الدراسات والأبحاث تخبرنا أن المنصات الإلكترونية، مثل مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي، تعتمد في آليات عملها على ترويج الرأي الأكثر جماهيرية، فهي ترتب منشوراتها وتروّج لها بحسب نسبة التفاعل معها، وبذلك تساهم في ترسيخ تبني الرأي السائد، بل وتعميمه، وهذه الركيزة الأساسية التي تقوم عليها أي إيديولوجيا؛ التعميم والشمولية.</p><p dir="rtl">وعلى اعتبار أن إعلام المواطن، اعتمد بشكل أساسي على هذه المنصات، فإن رسائله مشكوك بحياديتها وموضوعيتها، وهذا الشك حقيقةً يقود بسرعة إلى التشكيك بالثورات نفسها، وحركات الاحتجاج الشعبية التي عمّت عدة بلدان عربية منذ عام ٢٠١١.</p><p dir="rtl">إذ أن الصحفي المواطن، هو العين الوحيدة التي كنّا نرى من خلالها ما يجري في الشوارع والساحات والأحياء العشوائية في كثير من البلدان، لا سيما سوريا، وكان انحياز الناس للثورات نابعاً مما رأوه بعين الشاهد/الصحفي.</p><p dir="rtl">لكن ونحن نطعن بهذه الرسائل معتمدين على معيار الحياد والموضوعية (كون الإيديولوجيا متعصبة ومتطرفة بالضرورة)، نغفل بأن هذه المعايير إنما تهدف إلى حماية العامة، كثرة الناس، غالبيتهم، فلا ننحاز إلى طرف أو مشروع على حساب المنفعة العامة.</p><p dir="rtl">إن كان إعلام المواطن يُطلق محتواه من بين الناس أنفسهم، وبدعمهم وموافقتهم، بل وبمشاركتهم بصناعة هذا المحتوى، فما هو خلل الحياد والموضوعية الذي نخشى أن تصاب به رسائلهم؟</p><p dir="rtl">إن هذا الرفض لإعلام المواطن ينطوي على أزمة مفادها؛ أن الإعلام التقليدي يرفض تمثيل الناس لأنفسهم، بل ويصرّ على الضلوع في إنتاج هوية جمعية يرفضها العامة والغالبية.</p><p dir="rtl">هناك أسباب ترغم الإعلام التقليدي على مواجهة شرسة مع نده البديل، فالأول يسعى إلى تعميم صورة ترضى عنها السلطة صاحبة الحماية، ورجال الأعمال الممولين؛ ففي حوادث متكررة في عدة دول عربية، تقوم بها الجهات الحكومية بإخلاء حي عشوائي ما بالقوة، رامية سكانه في الشوارع، من أجل مشروع لرجال أعمال يقضي بإقامة منتجعات، أو أبراج، أو شركات تجارية، سيتجاهله الإعلام التقليدي بكل تأكيد، وإذا ما خيب ظننا، فإنه لن يصور الأمر كما يجب (آخر هذه الأحداث هو ما <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/society/2017/7/19/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B7%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%87%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82">يفعله</a> النظام المصري في جزيرة الوراق اليوم).</p><p dir="rtl">من جهة أخرى أدت المنصات الإلكترونية إلى تثوير المجتمع، وتم الاستغناء عن الإعلام التقليدي كمزود للإخبار، وفي كثير من الأحيان حاجب لها.</p><p dir="rtl">بل إن التطور التكنولوجي عموماً وجه صفعة مفاجئة للإعلام التقليدي، إذ إنه عمم على الجمهور أدوات اتصال وإخبار هي من السرعة بحيث تجاوزت أقوى وسائل الإعلام حول العالم، مثل تطبيقات الدردشة على سبيل المثال، فما يحدث في إدلب، قد يصلك وأنت في نيويورك بضغطة زر، في حين أن الخبر يكون ما زال قيد الصياغة في غرفة الأخبار.</p><p dir="rtl"> لقد تجاوز إعلام المواطن كل أشكال البيروقراطية، وخدش "هيبة الدولة"، وهذا لا يعني بطبيعة الحال أنّه معصوم عن الوقوع في فخ الأدلجة.</p><p dir="rtl">المهمة الأكثر صعوبة التي تنتظر هذا الإعلام اليوم، بعد إغلاق مئات الوسائل منه (السورية على أقل تقدير)، هي قدرته في الاعتماد على أساسيات مرنة، قادرة على مواكبة انفعالات الجمهور الثائر، والمتعب في ذات الوقت، قدرته على تشذيب هذه الانفعالات وتوجيهها وتركيزها، وليس الحد منها بما يتناسب مع أدواته، وإلا سيكون من الصعب جداً التمييز بينه وبين الإعلام التقليدي الموالي للسلطة.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7">صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Democracy and government middle east Press Citizen Journalism Journalism journalists freedom of expression press freedom Arabic language Mid-East Forum علي بهلول Tue, 07 Nov 2017 07:35:36 +0000 علي بهلول 114465 at https://www.opendemocracy.net صراع البقاء ورهانات التغيير.. الصحافة السوريّة إلى أين؟ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-MEF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl">من الصعب أن يتحوّل السوري لصحافي يعمل بطريقة احترافية في مؤسسات تخضع لسلطة الممول والأجندة السياسية، وسط فقر الالتزام بمعايير العمل الصحافي.&nbsp;<strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/struggle-for-survival-what-s-next-for-syrian-journalism">English</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-14105824.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-14105824.jpg" alt="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Syrian opponents are reporting news through their own made media units via social media websites in order to reflect the violence and incidents in Syria. Aleppo, Syria, on July 23, 2012. AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>لم تقدّم غالبية وسائل الإعلام السوري البديل التي بدأت عملها بعد اندلاع الاحتجاجات الشعبية في البلاد منتصف آذار ٢٠١١، رغم كثرتها، نموذجاً أكثر مهنية عن إعلام النظام السوري.</p><p dir="rtl">الإعلام الّذي على مدى عقود كان محكوماً بعقلية وايديولوجية الحزب المتمكن من الدولة والمجتمع، والذي امتنع عن تقبل الآخر أو حتى الاعتراف بوجوده، إلا في حالات تكاد تكون شبه معدومة.</p><p dir="rtl">هذا ما ساهم في إبعاد الصحفيين والكتّاب السوريين المعارضين للنظام السوري عن مشهد الإعلام السوري، وتوجههم إلى الصحف العربيّة اللبنانية والخليجية. ناهيك أن بعضهم كان يضطر لاستخدام أسماءٍ مستعارة في تلك الصحف، خشية الاعتقال والمضايقات الأمنيّة. </p><p dir="rtl">يضاف إلى هذا المشهد، وجود صحف غير حكومية، تابعة لأحزاب اليسار يكاد لا أحد يسمع بها، كما أن بعض الصحف الكُرديّة السوريّة المحليّة المحظورة أمنياً كانت توزّع في نطاقٍّ ضيّق، مجلة "الحوار" مثالاً، والتي كانت تصدر عن حزب الوحدة الديمقراطي الكُردي في سوريا منذ التسعينيات من القرن الماضي، وغيرها من الصحف والمجلات الكُردية الأخرى التي كانت تصدرها الأحزاب الكُرديّة المحظورة. <br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="rtl">ومن الإجحاف القول أن كل تجارب الإعلام البديل باءت بالفشل، فهي نجحت حيناً وتعثّرت حيناً آخر. كما لعبت دوراً مهماً رغم امكانياتها الضئيلة في بعض الأحيان في ظل التعتيم الإعلامي الّذي مارسه النظام السوري، حيث قدم صورة مغايرة لرواية السلطات السورية واستطاع إلى حدٍ ما إظهار جزء مما حصل في تلك الحقبة.</p><p dir="rtl">لكن من المؤسف اليوم أن أغلب المحتوى المكتوب الذي تقوم بنشره تلك الوسائل الإعلامية، يبدو أقرب للمواد التي تُنشر في وسائل إعلام النظام من حيث الشكل والنوعية، وغالباً ما تكون المصادر الصحافيّة التي يعتمدون عليها في موادهم غير معرّفة بالاسم والصفة، بالإضافة لاحتوائها على عبارات مسيئة ومهينة بحق مكونٍ سوري دون غيره في بعض الأحيان.</p><p dir="rtl">ما يعني أن تلك الوسائل الإعلامية سواءً المُعارضة أو تلك التي تتبع للنظام السوري، تريد إيصال رسالة محددة لجهةٍ ما، لكن هذا الأمر يتم دون الالتزام بمعايير العمل الصحافي التي من المفترض أن تجبرهم على احترام هذه المهنة.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />وبالرغم من أن الإعلام البديل نشأ مستقلاً وخارج الأطر التي تحكم مهنة الصحافة، إلا أنه اليوم يخضع لسلطة الجهات المانحة العربيّة والأجنبية التي تفرض عليه بطريقة أو أخرى شروطاً للنشر وفقاً لمصالحها السياسيّة، وكنتيجة لذلك القليل من هذه الوسائل تعمل باحترافية عالية رغم إمكانياتها المهنية المعقولة. </p><p dir="rtl">فأي وسيلة من هذه الوسائل، إذ ما قامت بنشر خبر صحافي وكان الخبر كاذباً أو إشاعة ساهم الصحافي أو المراسل بطريقة أو بأخرى في نشره للنيل من جهة أخرى يفترض أنها عدوه، فلا تقوم تلك الوسيلة بتعديل هذا الخبر أو ببث تنوّيه للمتابعين عن صحته أو عدم صحته، باستثناء بعض الوسائل الإعلامية التي تحاول جاهدة إعطاء المعلومة للمتلقي وتعديلها له في حال تطلب الخبر ذلك.</p><p dir="rtl">وهذا ما كان واضحاً في خبرٍ نشرته صحيفة "عنب بلدي" عن تشكيل كتيبة للمثليين جنسياً تقاتل في صفوف قوات "سوريا الديمقراطية"، لكنها عادت وقامت بنشر <a href="https://www.enabbaladi.net/archives/163521">البيان الّذي نفت</a> فيه تلك القوات الأمر بشكل قاطع وفعلياً هذه هي الطريقة الوحيدة التي يمكن من خلالها الحصول على متابعين يثقون بهذه الوسيلة الإعلامية أو تلك رغم تقيّد بعضها بسياسة الممولين وليس التحرير.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="rtl">ولم يقف دور الجهات الممولة لدى انحياز بعض هذه الوسائل لجهة سياسية أو عسكرية ضد أخرى، فقد ساهمت أيضاً في بعض الأحيان الاعتماد على صحافيين غير مؤهلين في الوقت الّذي بقي فيه المهنيون دون تأثير أو عمل في هذه الوسائل الإعلامية.</p><p dir="rtl">لكن هذا لا ينفي أن تأثير العقود الماضية التي أحكمت فيها سلطات حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي الحاكم في البلاد قبضته الأمنية على وسائل الإعلام، كان كبيراً أيضاً، لكن السوريين كانوا ومازالوا ينتظرون خلاص هذه الوسائل الإعلامية من تلك التأثيرات التي غالباً ما تسبب خيبة الأمل لهم.</p><p dir="rtl">من المفيد القول أخيراً أنه يمكن لأي مواطن صحفي أو أي سوري وضعته الصدفة في جغرافية معينة، أن يقوم ببث الأخبار من خلال تلك الوسائل الإعلامية لأسباب منها رفض النظام السوري دخول الصحافيين والوسائل الإعلامية إلى مدنٍ سورية تشهد مواجهات عسكرية. لكنه من الصعب أن يتحوّل هذا السوري لصحافي يعمل بطريقة احترافية في مؤسسات تخضع لسلطة الممول والأجندة السياسية، وسط فقر الالتزام بمعايير العمل الصحافي.</p><p dir="rtl">تكرار هذه الذهنيّة الموجودة أصلاً لدى إعلام النظام السوري منذ عقود في عقول بعض العاملين في هذه الوسائل الإعلامية وغياب الشفافية لديهما، هو ما يؤدي لغياب صحافة سوريّة مهنيّة، ويطرح العديد من الأسئلة منها، الصحافة السورية اليوم.. إلى أين؟!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B4">سياسات العمل الثقافي السوري في تركيّا: التهميش مازال مستمراً -١ من ٢</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Syria Democracy and government Citizen Journalism Journalism Freedom of the press Mid-East Forum Arabic language جوان سوز Sat, 09 Sep 2017 08:26:37 +0000 جوان سوز 113271 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The murder of Manuel Buendía, journalist https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/carlos-pay-n/murder-of-manuel-buend-journalist <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What sort of a country is it that does not defend its journalists, leaves them alone on the front lines, and cannot, or does not want to find the culprits? <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/carlos-pay-n/el-asesinato-de-manuel-buend-periodista">Español</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Veladoras_por_la_libertad_de_prensa_-_3_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Veladoras_por_la_libertad_de_prensa_-_3_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration "Watchers for freedom of the press", Mexico City. Photo: ProtoplasmaKid. Creative Commons.</span></span></span></p><p>He got out of bed that morning at seven-thirty, took a bath, dressed neatly in his suit, as he did every day, and adjusted his waistcoat. He was happy. He had finished an extensive investigative report on Mexico’s drug lords and their connection with authorities at all levels.</p> <p>He had discussed the matter the previous night with the Under Secretary of the Interior, with whom he apparently had some friendship built on the information that the latter shared with him from time to time, and which the journalist published exclusively. That authority was his confidant.</p> <p>When he left his house, before getting into his car, he stopped to fix his tie. A motorcycle got on the sidewalk behind him and stood there for a moment. The rider, who carried a .45 ACP, shot him in the back of the head.</p> <p>The journalist’s name was Manuel Buendía, and he collapsed on the sidewalk, his skull shattered. On the ground, a puddle of blood formed around his head. Life had already left his body.</p> <p>Before the slaying of Manuel Buendía, people thought, or believed, or invented, that such cases only happened in rural areas. It was in those areas, it was believed, where repression (beatings, jailings, deaths, closure of publications) was carried out by local authorities and, mostly, by the drug lords, who first tried to corrupt the victims and, if they failed, resorted to making those who denounced their crimes ‘disappear’.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">I wonder if we still exist as a country, if we are not imagining the existence of a democracy that has eroded to the point of fading.</p> <p>People believed that these horrors happened only in the provinces. But that morning, we woke up to the news of Buendía's death right in the heart of the nation’s capital city. Soon after, the investigation led to the arrest of the Under Secretary to whom Buendía had confided that he intended to publish the report implicating the authorities. It was the Under Secretary himself who had designed the crime, and was now protecting his associates: the drug cartels.&nbsp;</p> <p>Today, the murder of journalists not only persists, but it has increased at an unmatched pace, while the perpetrators are never arrested. The journalists who have been killed are, have been, the first defenders of the country against the mafias of organized crime, and against the government itself. Those who denounce the gangs are killed, and they are killed even sooner if they denounce the politicians associated with them.&nbsp;</p> <p>What kind of a country is it that does not defend its journalists, and leaves them alone, unprotected, on the front lines? What kind of a country is it that cannot, or does not want to find the culprits?</p> <p>To be a journalist in Mexico is to practice a very high-risk profession, one that often involves giving your life for it.&nbsp;</p> <p>I wonder if we still exist as a country, if we are not imagining the existence of a democracy that has eroded to the point of fading. A country that leaves its journalists to their fate, and that harasses them when feeling threatened by the spreading of their reports, is a country that does not exist, and that does not deserve to appear either in History or on the maps.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/carmen-aristegui-oleguer-sarsanedas/you-must-respect-fear">You must respect fear</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/manuel-nunes-ramires-serrano-oleguer-sarsanedas/risky-business-of-printing-what-so">The risky business of printing what someone else does not want printed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracia-abierta/eldad-levy/violence-and-social-disintegration-of-mexico">Violence and the social disintegration of Mexico</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta Journalism Mexico violence Freedom of the press Carlos Payán Wed, 26 Jul 2017 13:04:54 +0000 Carlos Payán 112534 at https://www.opendemocracy.net You must respect fear https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/carmen-aristegui-oleguer-sarsanedas/you-must-respect-fear <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"The best protection that a journalist can have is probably to keep on publishing stuff, to keep on waging a public battle." <em>Interview. </em><strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/oleguer-sarsanedas-carmen-aristegui/al-miedo-hay-que-tenerle-respeto">Español</a> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/carmen-aristegui-oleguer-sarsanedas/o-medo-deve-ser-respeitado">Português</a></em></strong><strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Carmen_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/Carmen_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Carmen Aristegui. Photo: Josep A. Vilar.</span></span></span></p><p>Mexican journalist and TV and radio anchorwoman Carmen Aristegui is widely regarded as one of Mexico's leading journalists and&nbsp;opinion leaders, and is best known for her critical investigations of the Mexican government. She is the anchor of the news program&nbsp;<em>Aristegui</em>&nbsp;on&nbsp;<a title="CNN en Español" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNN_en_Espa%C3%B1ol"><em>CNN en Español</em></a>, she writes regularly for the opinion section of the newspaper&nbsp;<a title="Reforma" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reforma"><em>Reforma</em></a>, and runs Aristeguinoticias.com, a news and analysis site.&nbsp;In 2012 she was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour in recognition of her "struggle for freedom of expression, and her commitment to the defense of those who often have no voice in the media, as well as her work for democracy and rule of law in Mexico”, in 2016 she was chosen as one of <a title="100 Women (BBC)" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_Women_(BBC)">BBC's 100 Women</a>, and in 2017 as one of 50 “World’s greatest leaders” by Fortune magazine. She has received many awards for her work, among them the National Award for Journalism (five times), the Gabriel García Márquez Prize, the PEN Mexico Prize and, recently, the 2017 Casa Amèrica Catalunya Prize for the Freedom of Expression in Latin America, which she received, to a full house, at Barcelona City Hall on July 19 - a prize extended, though her, to all the journalists in Mexico, "a high-risk country for our profession", as she herself has said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Indeed: in 2017, Mexican journalists Miroslava Breach, Ricardo Monluí, Cecilio Pineda, Maximino Rodríguez, Filiberto Álvarez and Javier Valdez have been assassinated in the states of Guerrero, Veracruz, Chihuahua, Baja California Sur and Sinaloa; and from 2000 to 2016, 105 journalists lost their lives violently in Mexico according to data from the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression.&nbsp;</p> <p>Aristegui’s popularity in Mexico – and beyond – is huge, as she is known for giving voice to Mexicans who would otherwise not be heard or seen because they criticize the country's most powerful institutions, for explaining, celebrating, and exposing what is great and wrong in Mexico - and in the hemisphere -, and for her courage, which serves as an example for journalists, especially women.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The daughter of Basque refugees from the Spanish Civil War, Carmen Aristegui has clashed with Mexican political and judicial authorities defending her team’s rigorous and proven information on such issues as a prostitution network linked to the ruling party, a number of cases of clerical pederasty, and the so-called White House case, an investigation that pointed directly to a conflict of interests of president Enrique Peña Nieto.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Oleguer Sarsanedas: </strong>Why do they kill journalists?&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Carmen Aristegui</strong>: For a variety of reasons, depending on each place, but essentially for what they publish - for reporting on matters related to drug trafficking and the collusion of authorities, for trying to reveal some important matters for their community. The murders impact states of the republic, regions and municipalities – they happen at every level. Journalists get killed, fundamentally, for what they are publishing, or are going to publish.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>And who kills them?&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>A number of studies<strong> </strong>have been conducted on this in Mexico, by organizations that defend freedom of expression, which show that a significant percentage of the deaths are related to local authorities. Others are most probably related to organized crime. But part of the greater drama is that there are no investigations that can help us clarify this. What I am telling you is, finally, what one can suppose, or guess, but there is no consistent evidence to say why they are killed, or who killed them. Impunity throws a large veil over the matter.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>The aim of violence against journalists is to get them to give up, right?<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>Yes.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>Why aren’t you giving up?<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>Because we must face the situation and one of the ways of doing so – in fact, the best weapon we have, I think - is to keep on publishing stuff, to keep on saying things. The best protection that a journalist like me can possibly have, considering my contributions to national and international media, like CNN, is, I believe, to keep on publishing. It seems to me that the best protection that can be had, if that is what we are talking about, is to keep on waging a public battle. The other option would be to go home and hide.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>Nevertheless, despite the risks, there are people who continue to devote themselves to journalism not only in big cities, but in small towns, in municipalities. What prompts them to do so?<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>What prompts us who devote ourselves to journalism is the idea, the conviction that information is essential for a country, for a community, for human beings. It is inherent to our human condition to communicate and report on what is important to others. I am convinced that what prompts journalists to do so is precisely the conviction that information is a decisive, powerful tool for any society.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>But if journalism could be said to be a public service, how can it be compatible with private ownership of the media and, even more so, with the concentration of media ownership?&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>What a huge dilemma! Of course, this is a great issue - the great issue - for the media globally, the great question that has to be raised from the point of view of democracy itself, from the point of view of public interest. In very many cases, the current design certainly does not favour freedom of expression. Clearly, in countries such as Mexico, where we have media hyper-concentration, where there is a duopoly in television, radio is concentrated in a few hands, and where corporate interests, or corporate-political interests, or extra-journalistic alliances are set above the general interest, this affects - all the time, every minute - the quality of information, editorial freedom, the possibilities of having a say. This is obviously an unresolved question and the large media conglomerates are increasingly appropriating that essential element of democracy: information.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>You have just been awarded a prize for freedom of expression. What is freedom of expression for you?&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>Freedom of expression, when it comes to journalists, is the possibility of openly saying what one knows, what one has been researching, what one has discovered, what one thinks, without fear of being murdered, harassed, censored or hurt. It is being able to say the things that one knows, that it is one’s duty to share with the audience without fear of getting hurt for doing it.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>There are several ways in which the press can be intimidated. Violence is one, of course, but there are others. Namely: you and some other journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates have been spied on. Please tell us about this.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>The <em>New York Times</em> has brought into the open an investigation, which was carried out by <em>Artículo 19</em>, an organization called R3D, and SocialTIC, with the scientific collaboration of a multidisciplinary lab of the University of Toronto, which reviewed cell phones - including my own and that of my son Emilio, who was a minor at that time - and found that our devices has been infected with a very powerful, very expensive malware, called Pegasus, which is developed by an Israeli company and which is so intrusive and powerful that it is sold only to governments. The Mexican government acquired it and this is a fact, because we had access to the documents that prove it: it was contracted by the Attorney General of the Republic, by the Mexican Army and by the intelligence system, the CISEN. </p><p>It was bought by the Mexican government, which used it improperly and illegally against activists, journalists and people who, like me, should never have been spied on. Peña Nieto’s government did it, and it did so with such an intrusive tool that it is not only capable of capturing your e-mails, your whatsapps, your messages, but of activating your cell phone camera and microphone, so that the spying can take place in real time – that is, all the time: when you are taking a bath, when you are having coffee, right now, when you are doing absolutely private, or public activities. It is a rather sinister tool because of its implications. Why did Peña Nieto's government use it against - even - a teenager? This is something that indicates fairly unbalanced elementary codes, including spy codes: spying on a teenager to see if anything came out that could be used to harm his mother. This is a sinister conduct on the part of the government, which comes to show that it has no scruple in using public money to acquire something that it should be using, if at all, against the big drug traffickers, or to investigate what it should investigate, but that it is using instead in this way.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>There is another recent study from the University of Oxford which points out that the Mexican government has been promoting troll groups to interfere with, intoxicate and manipulate online debates on public-interest issues - in order to dynamite, so to speak, the very matter journalists work on.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>This also comes to show what kind of government Mexico has: a government that is capable not only of spying on us with Pegasus, but of setting in motion intoxication mechanisms to interfere with the spontaneous communication of citizens. They carry out designed, directed, massive campaigns aimed at, indeed, blowing up the main asset that a journalist, or a human rights advocate, or a public figure who wants to do something that is critical for the government, has: credibility. They invent stories, they create situations and they slander for, as the saying goes, “if you slander, something always lingers on". The only option we have left is to appeal to the people's own communication, so that the people themselves, the netizens, counteract these campaigns which, by the way, are quite noticeable - they are bad campaigns, in fact, precisely because you notice them. They do have a positive effect, though, to the extent that people are denouncing them in their conversations. But it is an uneven struggle, a highly uneven one, because if people do not focus on them, they keep on running around and around, eroding that main asset of ours: credibility.</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>To what extent do you think that mobilized people, who use electronic means and are active in publishing, spreading information, and promoting participation can counteract these campaigns?</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>That is precisely what these campaigns are aimed at – precisely that, which is, of course, our great hope. Our great hope is that people can find strong, horizontal paths for communicating and for mobilizing. Whenever we talk about these issues, we tend to mention the Arab Spring and similar movements. Well, of course something like that could happen if people were allowed to communicate freely. I am pretty sure that if there were no such grotesque interferences, Mexico would undoubtedly be at another stage. But scientific studies of social media demonstrate – geometrically - how conversations are interfered. A consultancy by the name of Atqat Mesura, for example, conducted a study of social media in Mexico when the oil reform law was passed - an unthinkable reform in a country like ours, which fondly remembers Lázaro Cárdenas and where public ownership of oil resources was thought to be set in stone; so much so that ex-president Ernesto Zedillo went so far as to say: "not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a reform like Peña Nieto’s." This study was thus made at a time when people should have been discussing this far-reaching reform, but what actually happened was that nothing happened. It seemed as if nothing was going on, and it was quite extraordinary: a radical, privatizing reform was underway and there were no people out in the streets, not the predicted revolution, not what analysts and political scientists assumed would happen in a case such as this. </p><p>A key element to explain this is the fact that social media were interfered with in such a way, that as soon as a conversation was getting off the ground, it was immediately clamped. The only space where Mexican society could actually have blown off steam - on this issue the mainstream media were absolutely under control, no debates were aired on free TV - was precisely social media. And what they did was invade them: the geometric images in the study show how the conversations were getting dismantled – the physical behavior of spontaneous conversations is quite different from that of conversations which are being interfered -, and they show the sheer size of the operation – it was a huge intervention - which collapsed the possibility of communicating through social media. Thus, the reform was passed, with two or three critical expressions, but nothing like what one would expect in a country like Mexico. So, the problem is how do we get the government, or the powers that are interested in preventing certain things from happening, to stop carrying out these practices. I do not know if they are ever going to lay down some rules, if they will forbid them, but what I do know is that the battle is, right now, very uneven, because the spontaneity of the people is not strong enough to counteract all of this. They have hijacked this communication space too, and that greatly damages democracy.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>And it damages the possibility of new movements, new political formations emerging...&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>Exactly. That is the main issue. Where can they emerge if not in the social media? If people lack public spaces where they can establish contact, and organize, in a country like Mexico, which does not have a strong participatory tradition, to say the least...&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>OS: </strong>You have said: "The great challenge for journalists and citizens is to prevent fear from conquering us". How do you do this?</p> <p><strong>CA: </strong>You must respect fear, because it is intrinsically human. Fear is useful, it has a cause, it comes to you to warn you that something bad could happen. And this, of course, spurs you to redouble your defenses, to raise your rigor - in the case of journalists, to raise your standards, so as not to get things wrong, or not that wrong. We must use fear to strengthen things. The great battle is to prevent fear from stopping us, from paralyzing us. How do you do this? It is up to each of us: everyone has to overcome his or her own fear and take advantage of it. Fear should not inhibit, it should invigorate.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/jose-angel-garcia-v/mexico-between-dangerous-democracy-and-democracy-at-risk">Mexico: between a dangerous democracy and a democracy at risk.</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/marco-lara-klahr/mexico-press-under-threat">Mexico: the press under threat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/carlos-pay%C3%A1n/freedom-of-speech-for-worker">Freedom of Speech for Workers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta dissent Journalism violence freedom of expression Mexico Oleguer Sarsanedas Carmen Aristegui Wed, 26 Jul 2017 11:43:24 +0000 Carmen Aristegui and Oleguer Sarsanedas 112529 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egypt: the deep state’s war on journalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/egypt-deep-state-s-war-on-journalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The state is aware that free press means more accountability and their fear of being monitored, exposed, or held accountable indicates how fragile and insecure they are. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29605479.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-29605479.jpg" alt="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." title="NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest in front of journalists' syndicate in Cairo on 2 January 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span> “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAtapIvUT2Q">Listen only to me</a>” - Even if he had tried, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi could not have described his authoritarian military reign better. Exactly one year since he demanded the people not believe the “enemies of the nation”, the margin for freedom of speech and expression has progressively shrunk to absurd levels.</p> <p>On 17 March 2017, <a href="http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/egypt/egypt-journalist-union-gets-pro-state-chief-1.1995985">government sponsored</a> candidate Abdel-Mohsen Salama became the head of the journalists' syndicate. Salama is the managing editor of state owned <em>Al-Ahram</em> newspaper, and at the top of his list of supporters is former National Security officer <a href="http://www.egyrep.com/%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AA%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A3%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%89/">Ahmed Mousa</a>, a notorious mouthpiece for the regime who was supposedly intentionally planted in <em>Al-Ahram</em>. This recent development forecasts even darker times for an already gloomy era.</p> <p>The militarization of politics as well as authoritarianism are suffocating the people of Egypt. Public spaces are slowly but surely being securitized as the media is coopted. The economy is being divided like a pie to a select few, as a number of business tycoons and regime loyalists strategically buy out firms and distribute them among military men and their associates.</p> <p>Falling in line with this clampdown, assets of Mostafa Sakr, owner of <em>Daily News Egypt</em>, Egypt's only English independent daily print newspaper, and Arabic financial newspaper <em>Al Borsa</em>, were <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/253109/Egypt/Politics-/Govt-committee-freezes-assets-of-Daily-News-Egypt-.aspx">frozen</a>. </p> <p>Sakr has been <a href="http://albedaiah.com/news/2016/12/14/126686">accused</a> of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization. Although handed out abundantly, the accusation was even more ridiculous this time, as the regime had previously <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/09/16/egypts-blueprint-stability-investment-growth-president-abdel-fattah-el-sisi/">used</a> the newspaper to seek out investors for its mega projects. It seems hypocritical, to say the least, to then accuse the owner of the very same newspaper of being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. “President Sisi to Daily News Egypt” read the front page of an August 2014 issue.<br /> <br /> The freeze order coincided with parliament passing a media "regulations" <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/252006/Egypt/Politics-/Egypts-parliament-provisionally-approves-media-reg.aspx">bill</a>, which gives the government total control over both state and private owned media outlets.&nbsp;The new law stipulates the formation of three regulatory bodies to oversee all of Egypt’s media outlets, be it public or private. Heads of these bodies are appointed by none other than the president himself, according to Article 32.</p> <p>“The new law opens the door for the executive authority to dominate media,” Yehia El Qallash, ex-head of the Press Syndicate, told me. The state is refraining from building trust, he added, asserting that the current situation does not champion freedom of expression, and that of the press.</p> <p>However, Qallash has more to worry about than the new law. </p> <p>Qallash informed me that the syndicate had presented the Amnesties Council with <a href="http://www.masralarabia.com/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9/1300897-%D9%86%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A3%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A1--%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%81%D9%8A%D9%25">a list</a> of 29 imprisoned journalists, and 18 other journalists not imprisoned but under threat. Qallash is one of those 18 individuals under threat as well as the head of the syndicate’s Freedoms Committee, Khaled El Balshy.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Never has the syndicate head been tried and handed an <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/11/19/598915/">imprisonment sentence</a> in its 75 year history. Never has the syndicate HQ been <a href="https://egyptianstreets.com/2016/05/02/egypt-police-raid-journalists-syndicate-arrest-journalists-in-unprecedented-violation-of-law-syndicate-head/">stormed</a> before, but both catastrophes took place under the Sisi regime. </p> <p>Qallash and El Balshy are <a href="https://egyptianstreets.com/2016/11/19/egypt-sentences-press-syndicate-head-members-to-2-years-in-prison/">accused of</a> “harboring fugitives”, namely <a href="http://anhri.net/?p=172015&amp;lang=en">journalists</a> Amr Badr (also editor-in-chief of <em>Bawabet Yanayer</em>) and Mahmoud Al Sakka. Both journalists were arrested the night the syndicate headquarters were attacked in May 2016. They had been outspoken against the selling of the two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, and skeptical about official narratives of the murder of Giulio Regeni, pointing fingers at the state. </p> <p>“Authorities were also bothered by the website’s coverage,” Badr said, disclosing that during the investigation, the journalists were questioned about the stories they had published. They were put behind bars over stating their opinions, adding to their <a href="http://anhri.net/?p=151666&amp;lang=en">63 jailed</a> colleagues. </p> <p>“Freedom of expression in Egypt is a big zero,” Badr believes. </p> <p>Disbelief clouded those in the profession, as journalists were banned from attending the funeral held for the victims of a recent <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38280627">church explosion</a>, considered one of the biggest terror attacks during Sisi’s reign of power. The journalists were kept in a separate room, and were handed official photographs on their way out. </p> <p>Openly expressing dissent with policies in Egypt, the contracts of correspondent AlBaraa Abdullah and TV anchor <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/28/egypt-expels-former-bbc-journalist-liliane-daoud/">Lilian Dawood</a> with<em> OnTV</em> were both terminated after the channel was acquired by pro-state businessman Abu Hashima. </p> <p>Abu Hashima now also owns <em>Al Youm Al Sabe’, Ain</em>, and <em>Sawt Al Omma</em> newspapers, as well as the <em>Dot Masr</em> online website. One only has to take a look at these outlet’s amateur headlines to know what kind of messages they are conveying.</p> <p>Sisi’s loyal clan deny the obvious militarization of Egypt and it will be interesting to see their justification for the appointment of former military spokesman Mohammed Samir as head of <em>Al-Asema</em> TV Channel. </p> <p>The internet is no exception to the state’s control attempts. While the digital age provides massive room for freedom of expression, the Egyptian State is going out of its way to curb this space. Using its ‘<a href="https://arabi21.com/story/959429/%D9%81%D8%B6%D9%8A%D8%AD%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%B4%D9%81-%D8%AA%D8%B6%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B3%25D">digital armies’</a> and paid social media trolls, it floods the internet with messages that influence the less informed, threatening opposition, and constructing an illusion of a public opinion supportive of the state.&nbsp; </p><p>As the state took away more human rights, it shunned its criticizers in the name of economic and security stability. But as the value of the Egyptian Pound sinks lower, it has become harder to mute critical voices. Prices have increased, while wages remain stagnant. The economic crisis has started <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/world/middleeast/egypt-university-protests.html?_r=0">biting the middle class</a> as it depletes the poor. </p><p>Although militant attacks in northern Sinai have not ceased, with an <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-insurgency-violence-idUSKCN12M0BG">Egyptian general assassinated</a> in October, the church explosion exposed the security apparatus. In the following months, the situation crumbled until <a href="https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/02/25/more-than-300-coptic-christians-flee-egypts-north-sinai/">hundreds of Copts fled</a> Al-Arish City, fearing increased threats, <a href="https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/02/23/two-christians-killed-by-militants-in-egypts-north-sinai-amid-growing-attacks-on-copts/">killings</a>, and attacks by militants. Security is why Sisi came to power, and its laxity at a time of economic turmoil is threatening his supremacy day by day.&nbsp; </p> <p>With every decision the government makes, the volume of criticism gets louder, and the state grows more paranoid. The state is aware that free press means more accountability and their fear of being monitored, exposed, or held accountable indicates how fragile and insecure they are. </p> <p>“Dictatorships fear the truth,” El Balshy told me, narrating how the media had a big role in exposing toppled President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and overturning Mohamed Morsi’s.</p> <p>Between killing and imprisoning journalists, a syndicate report stated that more than <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/02/07/782-documented-violations-against-journalists-in-2015/">782 violations</a> were carried out in 2015 alone. The Committee to Protect Journalists <a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/12/14/604727/">named Egypt</a> the third country in the world with the highest number of jailed journalists in 2016. </p> <p>The sad truth remains that if you are not a government mouthpiece, you are in danger. While the state punishes journalists for doing their job, many behind bars are being granted international awards, including <a href="http://egyptianstreets.com/2016/10/26/detained-egyptian-nominated-for-reporters-without-borders-journalism-prize/">Ismail Alexandrani</a> and <a href="http://egyptianstreets.com/2016/06/29/egyptian-photojournalist-receives-us-award-from-behind-bars/">Mahmoud Shawkan</a>. </p> <p>Until these shackles are broken, those holding dearly to the essence of their profession will have to continue shouting “journalism is not a crime”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jack-shenker/send-them-to-egypt">Send them to Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/photojournalist-who-damaged-egyptian-national-unity">The photojournalist who ‘damaged Egyptian national unity’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/egyptian-journalist-under-military-interrogation-for-harming-national-secur">Egyptian journalist under military interrogation for “harming national security”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/egypt-solidarity-initiative/journalism-is-not-terrorism">Journalism is not terrorism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/andrea-teti/egypts-government-by-bullying">Egypt&#039;s government by bullying</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rana-nessim-rosemary-bechler-sameh-naguib/sisi%E2%80%99s-egypt">Sisi’s Egypt</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Journalism freedom of speech human rights You tell us Egypt in the balance Aya Nader Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:07:36 +0000 Aya Nader 109556 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Please stop saying that Turkey is gone! https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/janine-rich/please-stop-saying-that-turkey-is-gone <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The types of adjectives generally accompanying articles about the Middle East create a core of “knowledge” that is a distorted and narrow reality. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-28416560.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Thanassis Stavrakis AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-28416560.jpeg" alt="Thanassis Stavrakis AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Thanassis Stavrakis AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A hearse passes outside Marmara University Theological School mosque as Turkish policemen patrol in Istanbul. Thanassis Stavrakis AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>As I write this, it has been nearly five months since the coup attempt that failed in its goal to unseat President Erdogan, and the Turkish government at large. In the past months, much has changed. </p> <p>Some changes are obvious – a declared state of emergency that seems to have no particular deadline; incarceration and strong public/media condemnation of the coup attempters (and many others); mass firing of academics and restriction of their right to travel abroad.</p> <p>Some of the changes are subtler, their tendrils creeping softly into the fabric of daily life. A re-branding campaign that included changing the previously-named Bogazici Bridge to 15 Temmuz Sehitler Koprusu (The Martyrs of 15 July Bridge). </p> <p>An interesting display of photography that popped up in the crowded Taksim metro station, depicting civilians fighting the military during the night of the coup, meaningfully located in a place previously reserved for historical pictures of Istanbul from the early days of the Republic. </p> <p>As a friend of mine noted recently, there is a tangible change in the very atmosphere. People look at each other differently, he remarked, “as if you could be anyone.” </p> <p>And recently, after an eerie period of calm, two bombs targeting a police van ripped through a large, well-known street in Besiktas, one of Istanbul’s most popular neighborhoods for night life. </p> <p><a href="http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/turkey/1.758248">A video</a> &nbsp;that emerged within an hour of the attack is a bizarre and perfect encapsulation of Istanbul today: two young men sitting near the shore at night, playing guitar and singing together, their friend recording them on his Smartphone. In the background, far across the water yet close enough to feel, a sudden burst of violence. </p> <p>As a resident of Istanbul and a writer, I have found myself somewhat haplessly paralyzed by these events. On one hand, I am not a Turkish citizen, and I do not wish to use my platform here to silence or discredit those who know and understand more than I do, and who are already saying what needs to be said in ways far better than I ever could.&nbsp; </p><p>On the other hand, self-censorship and safety loom large for all writers at the moment. While I am certainly not famous enough to garner a particularly wide audience with my critique, Turkey’s leadership, much like its new friend in the US, has a habit of making mountains out of molehills (and then blasting those mountains to the ground). </p> <p>And yet, the writing goes on, with trepidation and a far greater sense of melancholy. Much has been written globally about Turkey in the days and months following the coup, and as usual, the most prescient and informed local voices generally cannot be heard above the din of external analysis.&nbsp; </p> <p>And of these articles that have received the most credibility within international media, both analytic and personal, there is a clear trend – that Turkey is on a dark path from which there is no return. Or, more fatalistically, that Turkey is already finished, its future tied up and parceled neatly with the other “Third world countries” that we so love to shake our heads disappointedly at. </p> <p>It should be noted that this is not a trend reserved only to major outlets such as CNN and Fox. There has been an astonishing amount of similar articles and opinion pieces published on smaller blogs and political forums by former or current resident of Turkey, by people who have traveled briefly in Turkey, and by others who, for various reasons, feel an emotional and personal attachment to the region. &nbsp;Within these pieces the tone is bleak, the past is whitewashed as a time of lost joy, and the future is nonexistent. </p> <p>It seems, in fact, that there has been little written at all that challenges these doomsday predictions. So, without further ado: to both local and international journalists, analysts, scholars, writers and Twitter users, a kind reminder - Turkey is not yours to condemn to death. And no, it does not matter who you are, or how knowledgeable you think you might be about the politics, cultures and structures of the country or the region. Turkey does not owe it to you to shape itself into what you think it should be. &nbsp;And when, inevitably, it does not do this, that does not mean that the country is beyond saving. </p> <p>This is, of course, not a phenomenon that is specific to media coverage of Turkey. The same overwrought headlines of doom, gloom, and futureless-ness have been used to condemn nearly every non-western country at some point. Why is it seemingly impossible to take the same level of understanding and nuance with which we look at our own societies, and to extend it to the societies of others? </p> <p>There is no such thing as a place that is truly “gone”, truly hopeless. It is a truth so obvious that it seems nearly ridiculous to repeat. All places, all political entities are complex and multilayered. Of what purpose, then, are articles with headlines such as “The Istanbul I Knew is in Ruins”, other than to serve as clickbait-y self-promotion for the author?</p> <p>There is something of a “race to the bottom” tendency amongst both writers and political analysts who study the region, in which one’s prestige and (supposed) wisdom is positively correlated with one’s level of cynicism about the future of the Middle East. &nbsp;</p> <p>I am not suggesting that a sunshine-and-daisies outlook is a more credible alternative. Things are not at all promising at the moment, and it would be a lie to say that those of us who have the privilege to leave whenever we want have recently started giving each other guilty looks, discussing quietly that we have been considering it. </p><p>However, it cannot be ignored that articles predicting ever-larger levels of violence and misery receive greater attention. That those who speak with high-pitched hysteria of how utterly disastrous everything is are deemed far more interesting, intelligent and cool. </p> <p>Blame Twitter, blame the 24-hour news cycle, or blame something in the air that has made us increasingly intolerant of nuance, increasingly unable to deal with the multiplicity of truth-claims that surround us and thus eager to swallow whichever story is the most thrillingly dark. </p> <p>There is a type of cruel politics to casually pronouncing (from the safety of abroad) the demise of a city, country, or region. These articles are simplifications that distort reality and commit violence and erasure upon the communities that they declare are doomed. </p> <p>If Turkey is truly gone, if Istanbul is destroyed, fallen to the supposedly violent wiles of the Middle East, what does that mean for the millions of people who still live here? In what multiplicity of ways does that perspective erase the complexity of communities here? Does it not deny the very existence of activists, scholars, shopkeepers, school principals, gardeners, parents, and more who are fighting the multiple levels of oppression present in (although not unique to) their societies? </p> <p>Is it not also an act of oppression to make no note of these people whatsoever, to instead present poverty statistics and border degradations and terrorist attacks as if there is a mathematical equation for how to declare a place unsalvageable? </p> <p>There is a falsely commonsensical notion that reporters, writers and analysts are mere observers, lying neutrally outside of the scope of complicity. If there was any merit to this claim before, the Internet has destroyed it. To report on violence is to become a part of it, to create a discourse about it that has the power to persuade and to create a sense of normalcy. </p> <p>This is, of course, not to suggest that the answer is to simply not report anything. It is to say that it is imperative to understand the power that an authoritative voice of information comes with, and to take steps to avoid both the normalization of violence <em>and</em> the hyperbolic over-simplification of complex situations.</p> <p>The types of adjectives generally accompanying articles about the Middle East (war-torn, devastated, ancient, extremist, historical) render images in the minds of readers that have a great deal of power. They create a core of “knowledge” that is a distorted and narrow reality. To read this genre of doomsday reporting as absolute truth is more than just a crisis of misunderstanding. </p> <p>If a city such as Istanbul is “destroyed”, if it is “gone”, then why should anyone care about its future? We can mourn for it, perhaps post a few sentimental statuses on Facebook to show our worldliness, and move on. </p> <p>After all, why would anyone try to hear the voices from within a city that no longer exists? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/janine-rich/burkini-battle-france-s-capitulation-to-extremism">The &#039;Burkini Battle&#039;: France’s capitulation to extremism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/janine-rich-mehmet-can-ney/erdogan-and-g-len-two-sides-of-same-coin">Erdogan and Gülen: two sides of the same coin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/janine-rich/opting-out-why-my-decision-to-not-vote-has-everything-to-do-with-attacks-">Opting out: why my decision to not vote has everything to do with the attacks at Atatürk Airport</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/janine-rich/bombings-in-turkey-blip-on-your-newsfeed">Bombings in Turkey – a blip on your newsfeed?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/janine-rich/other-turkeys">The other &quot;Turkeys&quot;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Turkey Democracy and government Journalism You tell us Janine Rich Fri, 23 Dec 2016 11:44:11 +0000 Janine Rich 107860 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The photojournalist who ‘damaged Egyptian national unity’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/photojournalist-who-damaged-egyptian-national-unity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Shawkan, an Egyptian photojournalist, has had his detention extended yet again. His&nbsp;camera has been as cold as the regime currently ruling Egypt - locking up anyone and everyone on no grounds at all.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/8324822.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Demotix/Mohamed Meteab. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/8324822.jpg" alt="Demotix/Mohamed Meteab. All rights reserved." title="Demotix/Mohamed Meteab. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demotix/Mohamed Meteab. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span>In a small cell in the infamous Torah prison, heavy steel doors and a room as dark as a grave surround prisoner Mahmoud Abu Zeid - known as Shawkan. A web of bars comes between him and the sky, a sky he cannot see except from a small hole in the ceiling. The photojournalist sits silently, learning with each passing day more about oppression and injustice.&nbsp;</span></p><p>For more than 850 days, Shawkan’s camera has been as cold as the regime currently ruling Egypt, locking up those who expose its crimes. A contributor to publications such as&nbsp;<em>The Guardian, BBC,&nbsp;</em>and<em>&nbsp;Time</em>, the photojournalist was&nbsp;<a href="https://cpj.org/campaigns/pressuncuffed/mahmoud-abou-zeid.php" target="_blank">arrested</a>&nbsp;on 14 August 2013 the day security forces brutally&nbsp;<a href="https://cpj.org/2013/08/in-egypt-two-more-journalists-killed-several-injur.php" target="_blank">dispersed</a>&nbsp;a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Yet Shawkan did not get a chance to document the massacre. On arriving at the scene, he identified himself to the police as a journalist.&nbsp; Moments later he was beaten, tied up and thrown into a police van.</p><p>12 December 2015 marked the day of Shawkan’s first trial.&nbsp;</p><p>In a case now&nbsp;<a href="http://www.freeshawkan.com/press_release" target="_blank">referred</a>&nbsp;to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) by the Impact Litigation Project at the American University Washington College of Law (WCL), decisions made by the prosecution followed neither logic nor law.<span>&nbsp;According&nbsp;to</span><span>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/journalism-is-not-a-crime-free-shawkan/">Amnesty International</a>&nbsp;</span><span>Shawkan is the only Egyptian journalist to have been held beyond the two-year cap on pre-trial detention</span><span>&nbsp;with his imprisonment now spilling into three months of illegality.</span></p><p>Despite having no political affiliations, the photojournalist was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.or.jp/en/get-involved/ua/ua/2014ua243.html" target="_blank">referred</a>&nbsp;to Cairo’s Criminal Court in a mass trial of 738 defendants. Shawkan faces a long&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/08/egypt-photojournalist-shawkan-among-700-held-for-more-than-two-years-in-pre-trial-detention/" target="_blank">list</a>&nbsp;of baseless charges, some of which are possessing firearms, attempted murder, illegal assembly, terrorising citizens, and damaging national unity. Among those accused in the same case are high-profile members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, as well as random defendants arrested from the sit-in.</p><p>Not surprisingly, on 12 December 2015 the court postponed the trial yet again to 6 February 2016. The supposed reason for&nbsp;<a href="http://egyptianstreets.com/2015/12/12/850-days-in-detention-photojournalist-shawkans-first-trial-postponed/" target="_blank">adjournment</a>&nbsp;was “lack of ability to transport all those accused to court”, as if the authorities were not already aware of the huge number of defendants.</p><p>In prison, Shawkan contracted Hepatitis C. Malnourishment, confinement and hunger strikes have left him anaemic, and he is suffering from depression. Denied access to medication, his lawyers have&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/12/egypt-continued-detention-of-photojournalist-shawkan-for-more-than-800-days-is-an-affront-to-press-freedom/" target="_blank">appealed</a>&nbsp;at least seventeen times to the general prosecutor to release him on medical grounds, but in vain. In addition, Shawkan has been&nbsp;<a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134749.aspx" target="_blank">denied</a>&nbsp;access to reading material.</p><p>Shawkan describes in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/ar/latest/news/2015/04/600-days-in-jail-for-taking-pictures/" target="_blank">letter</a>&nbsp;how his indefinite detention has been psychologically unbearable, and how he is being beaten “over and over again”, listening to the jailers talking over “how to beat and torture us to cause more pain”.&nbsp;</p><p>On Wednesday, the photojournalist's family organised a sit-in in front of the journalists’ syndicate to demand his release. The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international press freedom organization,&nbsp;<a href="https://cpj.org/2015/12/cpj-calls-on-egypts-prosecutor-general-to-support-.php" target="_blank">demanded</a>&nbsp;Shawkan’s release.&nbsp;</p><p>Amnesty International has on several occasions also called for the photojournalist’s freedom. Reporters without Borders&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/06/03/al-sisi-greeted-in-germany-by-storm-of-criticism/" target="_blank">rallied</a>&nbsp;for a demonstration during President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visit to Berlin.</p><p>Shawkan’s dreams of travelling, his love for movies, and his longing for music should not be trapped in a cold cell. Shawkan is a photojournalist, not a criminal.&nbsp;</p><p>A regime that cages journalists for simply doing their job, one that feels threatened by a camera, is the real criminal.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/update-egypt-hossam-bahgat-released-from-military-intelligence">Update: Egypt’s Hossam Bahgat released from military intelligence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tarek-tito/jailed-over-tshirt-freedom-for-mahmoud">Jailed over a T-shirt: freedom for Mahmoud</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sawsan-gharib/call-for-release-of-ahmed-maher">Call for the release of Ahmed Maher</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/amani-massoud/is-justice-blind-in-egypt">Is justice blind in Egypt?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/egypt-solidarity-initiative/journalism-is-not-terrorism">Journalism is not terrorism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mina-fayek/cognitive-dissonance-in-egypt">Cognitive dissonance in Egypt</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Democracy and government middle east detention Journalism press freedom You tell us Revolution Egypt in the balance Aya Nader Mon, 14 Dec 2015 17:09:31 +0000 Aya Nader 98514 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lebanon's foreign minister under fire: a comment on Gebran Bassil's real estate holdings https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/halim-shebaya/lebanons-foreign-minister-under-fire-comment-on-gebran-bassils-real-est <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In order to promote accountability, the Lebanese public and journalists have to abide by a code of conduct that respects the right to a fair trial and the right to a defence.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/6867285.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/6867285.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demotix/Dominic Dudley. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gebran_Bassil" target="_hplink">Gebran Bassil</a><span>, Lebanon's Foreign Minister and newly appointed leader of General Michel&nbsp;</span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Aoun" target="_hplink">Aoun</a><span>'s&nbsp;</span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Patriotic_Movement" target="_hplink">Free Patriotic Movement</a><span>, has&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.beirutreport.com/tag/gebran-bassil" target="_hplink">22 million USD</a><span>’s&nbsp;worth in real estate, purchased during the last ten years. This is according to a&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsYoYK1t4XI&amp;feature=share" target="_hplink">report</a><span>&nbsp;aired on Monday 2 November 2015, during a TV program on LBCI that deals with corruption issues.</span></p> <p>Bassil responded during a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lbci.com/news/237115/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%83-%D8%AD%D9%85%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%84%D9%83%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A/ar" target="_hplink">press conference&nbsp;</a>on Tuesday 3 November denying the veracity of these claims and threatening to pursue legal routes. He claimed the estates in question formed part of an inheritance. On Monday 9 November, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lbci.com/news/237947/%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%8A-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AC%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AA/ar" target="_hplink">new report</a>&nbsp;claimed the lands were purchased and not inherited. At the time of writing, Bassil had not responded to the latter report.</p> <p>As things stand, we have&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/joemaalouftv" target="_hplink">Joe Maalouf</a>'s report that has confirmed Bassil's opponents' view that he is a corrupt politician. On the other hand, we have Bassil's press conference where he did not go into the details of the documents, but rather presented a defense of his own record and of his party's policies and integrity, thus convincing his supporters.</p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Scandals are a healthy occurrence in a healthy democracy. But it is imperative that everyone get similar treatment.</span></p><p>From the perspective of the spectator, it is difficult to judge, except based on preconceived notions or biases. And it is worth noting that in dealing with such reports, it would be a premature conclusion—and one that is only befitting for sensationalist reporting and headlines—to submit that Bassil stole 22 million USD, based solely on a ten-minute report on TV.</p> <p>Without any doubt, investigative journalism is essential in a well-functioning democracy as it signifies the potential for uncovering scandals, corruption, abuse of power, and all forms of ills threatening a free and democratic society. And this note is not in defense of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil with whom I disagree on some matters of foreign policy, treatment/discourse on refugees, and the absence of a rights discourse in his party's agenda.</p><p>I am strongly in favour of opening politicians' personal portfolios to the public. In fact, scandals are a healthy occurrence in a healthy democracy. But it is imperative that everyone get similar treatment to avoid claims of double standards applied to different parties.</p> <p>One concern with the report on Gebran Bassil's alleged corruption and fortune (in the tens of millions, including other reports of his ownership of a private jet and houses in Europe) is the fact that Maalouf did not give him or a spokesperson the chance to reply but simply ended the report by asking the minister to clarify.</p> <p>Had the 'scandal' been a leaked document from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it would have been satisfactory to simply expose the document as a 'scoop'. But the documents relate to private estates and they are then presented to a real estate expert and their estimated net worth is calculated.</p> <p>One of my favourite moments while watching investigative reports is when the accused individual (the target of the report) is confronted with the damning evidence. Observing his/her body language, replies, tone of voice, and assessing his/her arguments as he/she is taken by surprise by the strength and clarity of the presented evidence against him/her is an opportunity for the random spectator to act as a member of a jury or even as a judge on the case in question.</p> <p>Had Joe Maalouf done that, the report would have been stronger and would have given the spectator an opportunity to make an informed judgment. He does mention in the report that he would like to hear Bassil's answer to his allegations. However, in presenting a report to the public, he should have confronted—or at least attempted to confront—Bassil with the documents he presented, given that he had the time to consult with a real estate expert to determine their worth.</p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Let the courts decide who is a thief. And let the public encourage investigative journalism.</span></p><p>This would have been similar to the report on Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb and the deal that may have cost the ministry and taxpayers&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lbci.com/news/237958/%D9%87%D9%84-%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B7%D8%B1%D8%B3-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A8-30-%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85/ar" target="_hplink">30 million USD</a>. In the segment shown on Monday 9 November, the minister's advisor is contacted for a potential interview.&nbsp;</p> <p>My point is that in order to promote accountability, the Lebanese public and journalists have to abide by a code of conduct that respects the right to a fair trial, the right to a strong defence, and the right to reply to allegations of corruption or abuse of office, and most importantly, the right to the presumption of innocence.</p> <p>Awaiting the legal route—if taken—to determine the veracity of the claims made about Bassil's wealth and illicit enrichment, one must guard against the use of terms such as "thief" or "stole" precisely in order to strengthen the rule of law in Lebanon.</p><p>Furthermore, accountability can start in the media—especially with investigative journalism reports—but is ultimately decided in the courts of law. If that is not feasible, then the discussion must be about alternate routes.</p> <p>As things currently stand, activists are bringing forth&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ictj.org/news/lebanon-judge-probe-corruption-complaints-activists" target="_hplink">complaints</a>&nbsp;to the financial prosecutor on a number of cases and this is a healthy practice for our struggling democracy in favor of strengthening the role of the judiciary in fighting corruption.&nbsp;</p> <p>Let the courts decide who is a thief. And let the public encourage investigative journalism exposing corruption. But we should always remember that making an informed judgment on such cases should take a little longer time and effort than watching a ten-minute report on TV.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/bilal-hamade/lebanese-media-retaliates-against-politicians-crackdown">Lebanese media retaliates against politicians&#039; crackdown</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/fatima-el-issawi/lebanon-and-spring-of-others">Lebanon and the &quot;Spring&quot; of others</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lebanon </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Lebanon Civil society Democracy and government middle east Journalism corruption Arab Awakening Halim Shebaya Wed, 11 Nov 2015 11:17:51 +0000 Halim Shebaya 97575 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Update: Egypt’s Hossam Bahgat released from military intelligence https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/update-egypt-hossam-bahgat-released-from-military-intelligence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The award-winning journalist was released after being held for interrogation, sparking an outcry from local and international rights organisations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/5173962939_92a54e21a5_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/5173962939_92a54e21a5_z_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="368" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/EIPR. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>Journalist Hossam Bahgat was released on Tuesday from a military intelligence unit after two days&nbsp;</span><span>of detention.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Bahgat was scheduled to face military prosecution on Wednesday on charges of “publishing false&nbsp;information that harms national security" and “publishing information that endangers the public well-being”. The accusations are based on his investigation, '<a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/coup-busted">A coup busted?</a>' into a secret&nbsp;military trial of 26 officers accused of plotting to overthrow the current regime in coordination&nbsp;with the Muslim Brotherhood.</p><p>“They discovered that they created a crisis out of nothing,” said lawyer Negad ElBorai,&nbsp;citing why Bahgat was released, in addition to internal and external pressure.&nbsp;</p><p>Earlier, the spokesperson for the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs denounced the United&nbsp;Nations’ Secretary General’s comments on the detainment of Bahgat, when investigations were&nbsp;based on “clear and explicit violations of the Egyptian penal code”. Ban Ki-Moon had expressed&nbsp;concern over the detention of Bahgat on Monday as part of a “series of detentions of human&nbsp;rights defenders”, to which the ministry responded by calling on Ban to “be accurate”.&nbsp;</p><p>The US State Department had also said that it was closely following the case.&nbsp;Bahgat, an investigative reporter at Mada Masr independent news website, was interrogated&nbsp;and detained on Sunday following a summons he received on Thursday.&nbsp;</p><p>Founder of local NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and recipient of&nbsp;Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award in 2011, Bahgat’s recent work also&nbsp;includes looking into the '<a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/arab-sharkas-cell-quasi-covert-military-trial-ansar-beit-al-maqdes">Arab Sharkas cell</a>' case, for which 6 were hanged in May&nbsp;following military prosecution. His '<a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/who-let-jihadis-out">Who let the jihadis out?</a>' investigated who was&nbsp;responsible for the pardon of Islamists post-2011.</p><p>“The most important thing is that he is out. Others get detained and stay in prison,” ElBorai said.&nbsp;Sixty-one journalists are currently in Egyptian prisons, according to the Arabic Network for&nbsp;Human Rights Information (ANHRI). ANHRI, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty&nbsp;International were among the groups and organisations calling for Bahgat’s release.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/egyptian-journalist-under-military-interrogation-for-harming-national-secur">Egyptian journalist under military interrogation for “harming national security”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Civil society Democracy and government middle east military trials Journalism Egypt in the balance Arab Awakening Aya Nader Tue, 10 Nov 2015 14:42:00 +0000 Aya Nader 97512 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egyptian journalist under military interrogation for “harming national security” https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/aya-nader/egyptian-journalist-under-military-interrogation-for-harming-national-secur <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Prominent journalist and rights activist Hossam Bahgat faces military trial in Egypt for his investigative journalism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/5173962939_92a54e21a5_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/5173962939_92a54e21a5_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="368" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hossam Bahgat receiving Human Rights Watch's annual award. Flickr/EIPR. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat is scheduled to face military prosecution on Wednesday for investigating a secret military trial in mid-October.</span></p> <p>On Monday, the military prosecution ordered the detention of Bahgat for four days pending investigations into charges of “publishing false information that harms national security" and “publishing information that endangers public well-being”, accusations often used to legally prosecute journalists and writers.</p> <p>Bahgat’s reports “threaten military security”, stated military spokesman Mohamed Samir. He is being prosecuted under Article 102 (bis) and Article 188 of the Penal Code, Samir said. </p> <p>Bahgat is detained at an unknown location, lawyer and human rights activist Negad El-Borai said. “Most probably he is with [military] intelligence,” said Borai.</p> <p>Bahgat’s latest investigation, ‘<a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/coup-busted" target="_blank">A coup busted?</a>’, delved into the military trial of 26 officers accused of plotting to overthrow the current regime in coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood.</p> <p>“In Egypt, it is forbidden to discuss the military, despite the absence of a law which stipulates this,” said lawyer Mohamed ElBaqqar. </p> <p>Bahgat’s defence was that the investigation is professional and devoid of any personal opinion, based on the case documents, the court ruling and interviews with the accused officers’ families, said ElBaqqar. “Most of the cases related to media are politicised”, ElBaqqar stated. </p> <p>The constitution prohibits detention for publication cases, said journalist Khaled ElBalshy. “Bahgat’s detention is alarming,” he declared. </p> <p>The state is sending a message to the media that it will not tolerate opposition of the regime in any way, said Ragia Omran, human rights lawyer and co-founder of the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/NoMilTrials/">No Military Trials for Civilians</a> group.</p> <p>The arrest comes shortly after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s speech at the beginning of November in which he condemned media criticism of him. “This is a crackdown on media in various ways,” Omran said.</p> <p>The state is also trying to distract people from the Russian plane crash incident and the emergency situation in Alexandria and other governorates severely affected by rain, Omran said. </p> <p>Bahgat, an investigative reporter at <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/">Mada Masr</a> independent news website, was summoned by military intelligence for questioning on Thursday. The summons he received at his home in Alexandria gave no reasons. He arrived at military intelligence headquarters in Cairo at 9am on Sunday. Ten hours later Bahgat was transferred to military prosecution to be interrogated. </p> <p>Bahgat founded local NGO the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) in 2002 and directed it until 2013. He was a visiting scholar at Columbia Journalism School in the U.S. from 2014&nbsp;to 2015. </p> <p>A recipient of Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award in 2011, Bahgat’s recent work also includes looking into the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/arab-sharkas-cell-quasi-covert-military-trial-ansar-beit-al-maqdes">‘Arab Sharkas cell’</a> case, for which six were hanged in May following military prosecution. His article, <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/who-let-jihadis-out">‘Who let the jihadis out?’</a> investigated those responsible for the pardon of Islamists post-2011.</p> <p>“The Egyptian military cannot continue to consider itself above the law and immune from criticism,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, in a statement released by Amnesty on Sunday. </p> <p>The statement continues that the arrest “is a clear signal of the Egyptian authorities’ resolve to continue with their ferocious onslaught against independent journalism and civil society”.</p><p>The US State Department announced that they have seen news reports concerning the arrest, and are <a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/11/249333.htm#EGYPT">“closely following”</a> the case. The&nbsp;<span>United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/164157/Egypt/Politics-/UN-secretarygeneral-concerned-over-Hossam-Bahgats-.aspx">expressed “concern”</a> over the detention of Bahgat, who is a member of UNDP's Global Civil Society Advisory Council. “This is just the latest in a series of detentions of human rights defenders and others that are profoundly worrying to the Secretary-General,” stated the UN on Monday.</span></p> <p>Sixty-two <a href="http://anhri.net/?p=151666&amp;lang=en">journalists</a> are currently in Egyptian prisons, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). ANHRI was among the organisations calling on the Egyptian authorities to release Bahgat and to drop accusations pressed against him. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also called for his release, counting 18 journalists behind bars. </p> <p>“Egypt has used&nbsp;arrests,&nbsp;legislation, and threats in an attempt to control the media and prevent independent reporting, particularly on matters of security and terrorism,” the CPJ said on Sunday.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-morsi-to-sisi-evolution-of-targeting-journalists-in-egypt">From Morsi to Sisi: the evolution of targeting journalists in Egypt </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hossam-el-hamalawy-khalil-bendib/egypt-interview-with-hossam-el-hamalawy">Egypt: an interview with Hossam El-Hamalawy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/egypt-solidarity-initiative/journalism-is-not-terrorism">Journalism is not terrorism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/andrea-teti/egypts-government-by-bullying">Egypt&#039;s government by bullying</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rana-nessim-rosemary-bechler-sameh-naguib/sisi%E2%80%99s-egypt">Sisi’s Egypt</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt middle east military trials Journalism Egypt in the balance Arab Awakening Aya Nader Tue, 10 Nov 2015 00:04:13 +0000 Aya Nader 97494 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The life of an American freelancer in the Middle East https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/aya-chebbi/life-of-american-freelancer-in-middle-east <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is an urgent need to change the narrative of the region and shift focus from bloodshed, terrorism, religious, sectarian and tribal threats to more in-depth coverage on the ground.</p> </div> </div> </div> <blockquote><p><em>“What’s more appealing to me as a freelancer is having the autonomy to go and create my own stories… without losing part of my freedom, or having to uphold any editorial line" - Eric Reidy</em><span>&nbsp;</span></p></blockquote> <p>I met Eric Reidy last April in San Francisco, where we both spoke at <a href="http://web.stanford.edu/group/amends/cgi-bin/">AMENDS</a> at Stanford University. We quickly bonded through our passion for writing, photography, listening to and telling people’s stories, a combination of what he defines as the package for freelancing.</p> <p>Knowing him for a short period of time and understanding his motivation when he delivered his speech gave me the impression of him not being a typical American freelance journalist.</p> <p>In mid October, I received a message from Eric telling me that he was coming to Tunisia in two weeks time, with no plans whatsoever on where he will be staying, for how long or what will he be doing. A few days later, to my surprise, I met him there.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Eric’s life appears to be unplanned, as probably most freelancers’ lives are. What distinguishes him is his clear vision, once he connects with the place and the people, of the kind of story he wants to deliver to an international audience. He has an interesting approach to freelancing; he sees it as a choice, an opportunity, an excuse and a challenge. For him, journalism is “an excuse to ask people the questions that you would want to ask them anyway but don’t have a pretext to do so”.</p> <p>His journey started when he was 17 years old as a “news junky”, particularly with respect to the Middle East. “During the worst period of the Iraq War in 2006/2007, I started being exposed to more critical perspectives of what life is actually like in the region… a chasm opened up between the story that I had been presented with since I was a young adolescent, and reality”, he said. Eric was fascinated with how big a gap that was.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>He is an adventurous freelancer who is willing to take risks to get important stories but “being a freelancer can also be an obstacle as much as an opportunity”, he adds. “Unfortunately Iraq is a bit less accessible, particularly to American freelancers. Without training in reporting in danger zones, without financial backing from a major channel, without a strong network of connections, it is pretty foolish and dangerous to go there”. As much as he believes in taking risks, he also cultivates the personal safety to be able to tell these stories.</p><p>Eric’s first stop was Lebanon, where he went to study Arabic for two months as a fresh graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, but ended up staying for eight months. Lebanon was his first choice because of its reputation as a “cosmopolitan, relatively free cultural space in the Middle East, a region that is tightly controlled by governments and censorship”.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>He was lucky to find a job within a couple of weeks with a Lebanese foundation called the Samir Kassir Centre for Media and Cultural Freedom (SKeyes). “I thought it would be great to have an excuse to interview artists, to sit down and talk to them about their work and their life experiences with social and cultural censorship.” He interviewed 25 artists about the role of art in public life in Beirut as part of his project. His work resulted in the publication of a book titled, “A Fractured Mirror: Beirut’s Cultural Scene and the Search for Identity”.</p> <p><span>The next stop was Palestine, which might seem as dangerous as Iraq to outsiders. However, Eric argues that, “to be a foreign journalist in Palestine is safer than Iraq”. He lived in Palestine for five months.</span></p> <p>He has been writing for Wamda, which is a platform designed to empower entrepreneurs in the MENA region by covering stories of small businesses and growth trends. Eric was the only journalist covering the Palestinian entrepreneurial scene full time. “I found entrepreneurship to be a fascinating lens into Palestinian society”. He observed that “as a consequence of the occupation, a lot of people have understandable limitations to what they think is possible. There is a real sense that there isn’t very much possible in the West Bank because everything is really tightly controlled…”</p> <p>So he looked for stories that would show Palestinians that there are those who have some agency to act on their own. “They are usually portrayed to the west as people who are either oppressed by a controlling system or people who are exercising violence”. He chose not to fall into that dichotomy but instead to open up more space to understand what he had come to see “as a much more nuanced existence”.&nbsp;</p> <p>This falls into his broader vision of “using the power of personal stories to break people’s pre-existing understandings and open up a little space within people’s preconceptions about a place or people or an experience…to have them start to be self-critical and question whatever they think is true or certain”.</p> <p>Eric had to leave the Middle East in early February this year, after being deported from Israel, but he considers this as “a minor bump on the road”.</p> <p>He has now been in Tunisia for five weeks, refreshing his Arabic and studying the Tunisian dialect, while exploring new stories. “Other than transparent free elections and the transition of power, I think the story that should be coming out of Tunisia is the longer ongoing process of what is actually taking place here, on how to build a new type of society out of the society that was previously governed by an authoritarian dictatorship. To me, that’s the story of Tunisia.”</p> <p>So far, Eric has written three pieces on Tunisia claiming that “If we promote Tunisia’s model, by following its democratic transition, then we owe it to ourselves to actually understand what that means…People do not have to be dying for that to be an important story, and I hope I can convince editors of that while I’m here”.</p> <p>As a totally new context from Palestine or Lebanon, he is finding his way in Tunis while “There is a bit of nostalgia and longing for the comfort I was able to build for myself where I was last”, he confsses.</p> <p>He undoubtedly confirms the stereotypical image of the maddening life of a freelancer as “a hassle, you have to always keep coming up with story ideas, keep pitching, developing relationships with editors, with contacts, with people who can help translate things for you… Everything somehow is related to work. It’s kind of a consuming lifestyle as your livelihood basically depends on the network you develop…I always feel I should be working when I’m not, I have no sense of security”.</p> <p>He has lived in three different places covering stories for <em>AlJazeera</em>, <em>Al-Monitor</em>, and the <em>Middle East Eye</em> among other international media outlets, yet he says he is new in the freelance space. “Everyday I sit down to write an article or do an interview I ask myself ‘am I good enough to be doing this?’ Do I understand well enough to put the stuff that I’m creating out there for other people to use as a source of information? Still something I have to prove to myself”.</p> <p>This self-reflection is surely a mainstay of journalistic ethics and integrity and something that today’s journalists should be asking themselves as they report stories from the Middle East.</p> <p><span>Over the past years, I have met many freelancers in Tunisia and Egypt who moved to the region to be journalists thinking that there were “a lot of violent, bloody stories they could cover to make a name for themselves.” Eric, however, has a different approach; he wanted to “correct” the media narratives that he grew up consuming.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>There is an urgent need to change the narrative of the region and shift focus from bloodshed, terrorism, religious, sectarian and tribal threats to more in-depth stories. How did a revolution turn into a proxy war in Syria? How are the elections shaping Tunisian’s lives? How does the Lebanese multifaceted identity manifest itself? Here's to more and better stories!</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Lebanon </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Tunisia Lebanon Palestine Journalism You tell us Aya Chebbi Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:38:48 +0000 Aya Chebbi 88813 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Syria, storytelling, and all things between: a meta-commentary on ‘the Prisoner Series’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/yazan-alsaadi/syria-storytelling-and-all-things-between-metacommentary-on-%E2%80%98-prisoner- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Al-Akhbar English (AAE) is the English branch of a prominent Lebanese newspaper, <em>Al-Akhbar</em>. During the second week of February 2014, <em>Al-Akhbar English</em> published a six-part special series called, “<a href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/category/features?page=1">Syrian Prisoners: In Their Own Voices</a>.” This is the story of that series.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western" lang="en-US"><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/prisoners-exercising.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/prisoners-exercising.jpg" alt="Prisoners exercising, 1890, by Vincent Van Gogh" title="" width="398" height="500" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Prisoners exercising, 1890, by Vincent Van Gogh </span></span></span>I find it difficult to write about myself. I say this not out of any sense of self-loathing. Rather I think there are countless other voices out there today more deserving. And frankly, if I write in an unrestrained way about myself, I fear I'll come across as an obnoxious buffoon (we have enough of those already, no?).</span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">But in the convoluted discussions over Syria, the meta-commentary exercise we are engaged in matters (or so I'm told). So what follows is also a personal musing (honestly, more like a rant) about the complicated nature of context, memory, personal bias, truth, and one of the oldest topics of them all: story-telling.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Let me first briefly describe who I am. </p> <h2 class="western" lang="en-US">How the writer came to be </h2> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I was born in Kuwait to a hard working, upper-middle class Syrian family. Both my parents are engineers, and sacrificed much, and continue to do so, for family. They fell in love during the heydays of university in Damascus in the 1970s. Their union flourished despite every consecutive trial they faced. They adapted and evolved. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">My parents taught my older sister and myself many things. Let's summarize these lessons for convenience: learn and understand everything you can, empathize because it is rare, and trying to do the 'right thing' will always be hard. Also, they inadvertently taught us to be stubborn. A cursed gift.</p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I lived in Damascus for half a year as a child during the First Gulf War. That was the longest continuous period of time I have lived in Syria. Since my birth and until only a few years ago, my family made sure to visit the country once a year, staying days, weeks, or a few months at a time. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Through these brief annual visits I discovered tiny parts of Syria for myself. Walking the streets, hearing the sounds, smelling the air. Clumsily existing within a sliver of a sub-section of what entails Syrian life was my education and direct experience of that country. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">But I mainly learned of Syria from stories told me by my family members and their friends. Chronicles of the trials and tribulations that are part and parcel of the daily toil, fables of bureaucratic absurdity, lamentations about rising prices, or the way a particular field looked as the sun set, and the taste of incredibly sweet pastry. These were typically mundane yarns, with no greater purpose than to represent snapshots of Syrian life as portrayed by whoever the teller was. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">But there were other stories that seemed heavier at their core. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Sometimes these were tales spoken in hushed tones or in a dead-pan, matter-of-factual manner. Stories of history and power. Memoirs of those tortured and exploited. Accounts of various forms of injustice, committed by familiar or foreign hands. This assemblage of anecdotes details fatalistic acceptance, festering dissent, and fantasies of what the future may hold. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">So many stories, tiny and tremendous. All valuable. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Because of them, I loved and hated Syria. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I haven't been to Syria since the fall of 2010. It's been too long, and a lot has happened. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I'm very well aware that one version of Syria is gone today, and likely never to return. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I regret that I've barely scratched the surface of what I should know about Syria. So I want to be clear: I do not represent millions of people, each a universe of emotions, experiences, ideologies, interests, thoughts, perspectives, regrets, hopes, dreams, ambitions, and intelligence. This is just my story, filtered by my bias, and coloured by my beliefs. </p> <h2 class="western" lang="en-US">How the ‘Prisoner Series’ came to be </h2> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Eventually, I stumbled into journalism. It was a career choice I have yet to find comfortable for many reasons. I am not entirely sure of its contours, or whether I will survive and persist within its system. What I do know however is that I'm fascinated by stories, especially ones that linger along the margins of a spotlight. I wanted to coax them into the foreground, in a way that informs and engages, no matter how miniscule the results. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Journalism is a powerful craft. It educates, raises awareness, and could potentially be a potent positive force for change. At the same time, it manipulates, represses, and can and does ensure the perpetuation of the status quo. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">A voice for the voiceless, a rod for the powerful. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">It is the worst and the best thing to do for one intrigued by the nature of stories. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">It is a thankless task. The pay is horrendous. The hours abnormal. And the stress, uff. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">To add insult to injury, words written by journalists are usually lost within the whirlwind of information, where an unceasing industry of reports are spewed forth by newspapers, news-sites, blogs, twitter accounts, commentary sections, gossip columns. Imagine, this infinite web of narratives, viciously and mercilessly competing – and at times cooperating – for dominance. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Journalism has rules and counter-rules, sets of styles, and an array of agendas. It feeds out of drama. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">And there are few things more dramatic than war. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">The war in Syria, born out of an uprising, has been raging for three years. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced, billions of Syrian pounds' worth of destruction. I'll leave the sordid details for others to recount. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">The war in Syria is not only a physical conflict of political power, human bodies, and military might - it is a war of words, where narratives clash in brutal fashion. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Few news agencies are mainly interested in the truth behind events in all their ramifications. Most have automatically taken a particular side, and actively crafted stories that support their respective positions. The less truths and accuracy are emphasized, the more it is about scoring cheap points within the over-arching propaganda battle. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">All the sides, regime or opposition, Arab or foreign, are guilty of this. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Many are unconcerned about what Syrians themselves have experienced or whether they have any voice at all – unless, of course, it fits with a particular narrative. Many more news agencies have exploited fears, victims, and tragedies in order to curry favour with their audiences or their financial/political backers. Hoaxes, exaggerations, hearsay, simplifications, these have all been found acceptable standards of reporting – again, on all sides. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">And the audience has participated in this macabre theatre too, in so many ways. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">When confronted with a story or narrative that does not conform to their position, the audience has reacted against it – some out of legitimate contentions, others for reasons of the more knee-jerking kind. Rarely are discussions on Syria cool, collected, and civil. Rather, slurs, heated tit-for-tats, and unwavering denials are the norm. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I don't blame the audience entirely. The propaganda coming out from all sides has been astounding. Division and confusion have thrived. And meanwhile the price being paid for this is only paid by the Syrians, no one else. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US"><a href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/">Al-Akhbar English (AAE)</a>, the news-site I write for, is not immune from this conflict. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">AAE is the English branch of a prominent Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar. The English website was established in the summer of 2010, by men and women keen on creating an alternative, independent English-language news site, with an ideological bent of a progressive flavour. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">The essential idea was to have a platform for local thoughts and views directed towards English-reading audiences worldwide, and to translate Al-Akhbar's Arabic reports into English. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I've been writing for AAE since November 2011. Since then I have seen it transform, shift, and readjust. Al-Akhbar, the newspaper, took a side with regard to resistance, conspiracy, and such. There are kernels of truth in the position they took, and then there are non-truths. This shouldn't be surprising, do you think any other agency is different? </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">But despite the Arabic newspaper's editorial slant, a variety of views on Syria remains within the paper, particularly within the English website. We, in the English edition, have tried to remain independent as best as we can, and we have always been keen to allow all sides to articulate their positions, to varying degrees of success and failure. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">We are painted in simplified shades, charged with being pro-regime or pro-Hezbollah, and thus guilty-by-association. I think such charges shrugs aside a far more complex dynamic at play within the agency. These are narrow, useless observations. Half-truths. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Our ‘prisoner series’ was published in and out of this climate.</p><p class="western" lang="en-US"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/al-Akhbar_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/al-Akhbar_0.png" alt="Screenshot from Al-Akhbar English's Features page" title="" width="460" height="209" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot from Al-Akhbar English's Features page</span></span></span></p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">During the second week of February 2014, Al-Akhbar English presented a six-part special series called, “Syrian Prisoners: In Their Own Voices.” Six people shared their personal stories either of being imprisoned by the regime or kidnapped by armed opposition groups. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">The idea was not merely to report about these events, but to transcribe what they experienced told to me in their own words. Each account was published, coinciding with the second round of the Geneva II meeting between representatives of the Syrian government and the external opposition. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I had pitched the idea to my editor, and she quickly agreed. It is here I must stress, that a writer is nothing without an editor who is supportive of their work, who tries to push and prod the writer to be better and to cover all bases. I was lucky I suppose. I had a good editor who made sure I got the work done, and challenged what I came up with. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">We both agreed that it was necessary to have stories of Syrians who have suffered at the hands of the regime and the armed opposition. It was important, I felt (and so did she) because it showed that despite all that has happened, Syrians are united in one aspect: the crimes committed against them by all sides, and one of the biggest crimes directed by both the regime and the armed opposition – which isn't sufficiently reported on I believe – is the nature of imprisonment, and the torture, abuse, and harassment that flourishes from such acts. </p> <h2 class="western" lang="en-US">The Prisoner Series </h2> <p class="western" lang="en-US">In order for me to accumulate these stories I had to rely on friends in Lebanon, as well as colleagues, who helped me in finding Syrians who have experienced imprisonment by the regime or by the armed opposition <em>and</em> were willing to talk about it. It was frankly easier to find Syrians from the former than the latter, I suppose for a number of reasons: </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">First, the number of Syrians who went through the regime's incarceration system was staggering, and seemed to be far, far more than those kidnapped by factions of the armed opposition. It became sort of mundane and normalized, a fact of life within the Syrian state – how poignant that imprisonment is quickly explained as “having a cup of coffee” with your neighborhood's security apparatus. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Secondly, the fear of speaking out about being imprisoned by armed opposition groups was highly sensitive – it was tantamount to being supportive of the regime. Indeed, many Syrians opposed to the regime are still uncomfortable with the notion (and I believe, the utter need) to criticize the crimes committed by the opposition. This will change, if it has not already. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Nevertheless, in the span of two weeks I was able to get the voices I needed. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">My preference was to sit down with these people in person and record the interview. I had attempted to make sure that they could speak freely, interrupting only when I needed them to not go off on tangents, or asking them to describe a scene they mentioned sketchily in more detail. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Detail, I think, is key in any story. How did the room look, what did they say, what did they hear, what was the colour of the car they were taken in (if they remembered), what was the smell. These seem banal questions, even silly, but I felt it gave the story more richness, it made the story <em>real</em>. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I was also really keen on making sure what was told was the truth, and the truth is a very tricky factor in all of this. But this can be deduced by various means: if there are similarities with other tales, if the timings fit public records, if the story changed during repetition, and so on. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">It was hard at times, because I pressed and scrutinized their memory (which is naturally fleeting) of what was undoubtedly traumatic events. I tried to balance my emotional desire to be sensitive, with a more cold-hearted need to ensure that the story was as accurate as it could be. Where were you beaten? Did you scream? Were you sexual molested? Can you describe what the person who aimed their gun at you looked like? </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Most of the tellers were understanding. One of them, however, sunk into depression after sharing his tale with me. By his request I did not share his story. It was a good story unfortunately, he had such a unique, dry wit telling it but I think it's better for him to share it when he feels able to. I was told, and I do sympathize with this, is that he ultimately felt (and still does feel) helpless. Helpless for what happened to him, helpless for his liberation, helpless to those who are still trapped. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Helplessness is one of the most terrifying feelings a human being can endure. It is shameful, even though we can all agree that it wasn't their fault. It is steeped in guilt. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I feel helpless about the evolution of this war, and that feeling is part of what drove me to do the prisoner series. It was something tangible I could do in the shadow of this leviathan. Anything in the face of despair and destruction and helplessness. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">One thing I do admire in all those who shared their stories is the subtle, dark sense of humour they all had about the experience. It was unanimous. It was humbling that they were able to laugh and joke about extraordinary situations – the surrealism of the Syrian prison system, or the way they were treated in a Kafkaesque manner that sought to dehumanized them, or the sheer chaos of being kidnapped by a faction, which is usually not defined by rules and regulations, but rather the arbitrary whims of the kidnapper. Both terrifying in their respective ways. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I was keen to capture, as accurately as I could, what I had recorded. It was important for me to ensure that each of their unique norms, turns of phrases, and personal styles were there. Was this clear in the final outcome? I'm not entirely sure. I hope so. It is difficult to transcribe such a complex thing as a voice into the simplified form that is an article – with its constraints of space, word length, coherence. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">The alternative would be for the reader to be there with me as I did the interview to see the people for themselves, and hear how their tone shifts, how their voices crack, sped up or slowed down, emphasized a word here or there. How their eyes brightened or darkened. How their hands moved wildly when explaining a scenario, or when they casually acted out how they cowered because of this or that situation. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">They are human beings after all, and they acted as anyone would have. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">We forget the humanity in all this mess. I forget the humanity in all this mess. </p> <h2 class="western" lang="en-US">Afterthoughts </h2> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I personally do not know what I would do if I were imprisoned or kidnapped, and hearing their tales caused me to further question my resolve. I might delude myself with the belief that I would be strong or keep whatever shred of dignity I had. But this is likely far from the truth. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Those who shared their tales are not entirely healed. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I believe that once this war is over, the psychiatric and physical work required is going to be colossal. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Ultimately, the stories were published and as expected, those who were supportive of a certain position shared the stories that matched their interests and lashed out at the stories that did not. My idealistic and ambitious personal aim to cut across the divisions was clearly not going to materialise I’m sorry to say, at least not in such a wide, influential way, as I secretly had hoped. The divsion is too strong, and getting more entrenched with each shot fired or shell launched. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">The truly tragic reaction lies in the justifications people made about torture or abuse. Torture, I think, can never be justified, no matter who it is applied to, and for whatever aims. It is simply barbaric. Beyond the immorality of it, torture and abuse does not provide any strategic, tactical, or military benefit other than completely subjugating the victim in the worst of circumstances. And yet, no matter who – regime or opposition – you will have people defend these acts down to the wire. Madness. Sheer, utter madness all around. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Worse still are those who just will not accept or believe that these events are happening. Despite all the evidence one can provide. I imagine even if you dragged them to the prison cells or the kidnapper's havens, and showed them the blood and urine stains on the floor, they still would not budge an inch. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">I do think there should be doubt in one's own position, the idea that one should also be critical and harsher on one’s own side against the other, rather than mindlessly following the propaganda. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">We are not gods, after all, and even if we were, divinity, as history and fables have shown from time immemorial, does make mistakes. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Nevertheless, people will be people, and they will stick to what they convictions. It is their narrative and they are comforted by it, no matter what the price. And the irony of it all, I think, is that humanity's best is judged by the worst of times, and by that measure, there is no innocent party here. Not one. I wonder if they – regime and opposition – can see how genuinely they mirror each other, would that bridge the divide? </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">We are told this is a revolution for liberty and dignity, and I see no liberty or dignity in these stories. We are told this is a fight for self-determination and freedom against terrorism and the forces of dominance for the sake of resistance. And yet I see no freedom and self-determination, nor resistance, in these stories. I see horror. I see despair. I see hypocrisy. And I see brutality. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Today, there are still tens of thousands of people who are imprisoned by the regime and there are hundreds who are still kidnapped by the armed opposition. Every day there is abuse, physical, mental, and emotional. They are ignored and forgotten completely as the geo-political game drudges along. I fear they will be forgotten in the public consciousness once this is all over. We cannot allow this. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Their story needs to be heard, and reheard endlessly, so that it is firmly drilled into our minds. We must remember, because I believe if we are to progress in the next chapter of our collective Syrian story, there must come a time of reckoning and accountability. </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Until then, let me share a story with you: </p> <p class="western" lang="en-US">Once upon a time there was a young man I met in a cafe in Beirut who said, <a href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18556">“My arrest was on March 19, 2012 and they kept me for a year and a half, under the justification that I was delivering food and medicine to conflict 'hot spots'...” </a>&nbsp; &nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/people/article_913.jsp">Torture stories</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/joseph-daher/razan-zaitouneh-and-her-comrades-spirit-of-syrian-revolution-kidnapped">Razan Zaitouneh and her comrades: spirit of the Syrian revolution kidnapped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/torture-and-arab-system-old-and-new">Torture and the Arab system, old and new</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samer-al-qatrib/syrian-revolution-view-from-above">The Syrian revolution - a view from above</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Creative Commons </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Syria Journalism Discourses Prison torture Violent transitions Revolution Yazan al-Saadi Fri, 30 May 2014 22:25:53 +0000 Yazan al-Saadi 83264 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Journalism is not terrorism https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/egypt-solidarity-initiative/journalism-is-not-terrorism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In Egypt, numerous journalists have been arrested since the overthrow of Morsi. They are being kept in high security prisons under appalling conditions. Egypt Solidarity Initiative are campaigning for their release as they go on trial today.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/3966366.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/3966366.jpg" alt="Demotix/Terry Scott. All rights reserved." title="" width="400" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration in front of the Egyptian Embassy in London. Demotix/Terry Scott. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Around 65 journalists gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in London on February 19, demanding that the military drops charges against foreign journalists who are due to go on trial in Cairo&nbsp;today.</p> <p>Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohammed have been detained by the Egyptian authorities since&nbsp;29 December. Their colleague Abdullah Al Shami has been detained since&nbsp;14 August&nbsp;and is in the third week of a hunger-strike. This is a <a href="http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/middle-east/letter-tora-prison">letter</a> Peter Greste wrote from his prison cell.</p> <p>Earlier this month the Egyptian authorities published a list of 20 journalists, accusing them of aiding terrorists while working in the country. Of the 20, nine are <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/freeajstaff/"><em>Al Jazeera</em> staff</a>.</p> <p>Award-winning correspondent Sue Turton – who worked for <em>Sky News</em>, <em>ITN</em> and <em>Channel 4</em> prior to joining <em>Al Jazeera</em> – is among those on the list. She joined a demonstration at the Egyptian embassy this morning calling for an end to the trials and charges.</p> <p>Sue Turton said,<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>“</strong>I am astounded that a warrant is out for my arrest because of my reporting in&nbsp;Egypt&nbsp;last year. I didn’t treat the situation there any differently to every other story I’ve reported on in almost 25 years as a TV reporter. I have no allegiance to any political group in&nbsp;Egypt&nbsp;or anywhere else and no desire to promote any one point of view.”</p></blockquote> <p>National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and Jeremy Corbyn MP, of the NUJ parliamentary group met the Egyptian ambassador Ashraf Elkholy to outline worldwide concern at the silencing of journalists in&nbsp;Egypt.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Michelle Stanistreet said, </p><blockquote><p>“We are here to tell the Egyptian ambassador of our outrage at the treatment of journalists in his country. In addition to our four colleagues from Al Jazeera on trial&nbsp;tomorrow, all journalists trying to cover an important story critical to&nbsp;Egypt’s history are being targeted. Six have been killed covering events, others have been injured, imprisoned or had their equipment confiscated. The international community insists that journalists should be free to do their jobs.”</p></blockquote> <p>The Egypt Solidarity Initiative website was launched on 11 February 2014, the third anniversary of the fall of Mubarak, to publicise the Egypt Solidarity Initiative&nbsp;<a title="Founding statement" href="http://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/2014/02/10/founding-statement/">founding statement</a>&nbsp;and campaign in defence of democratic rights in Egypt.</p> <p>Senior television executives have signed an open letter urging the Egyptian authorities to free those due to go on trial tomorrow. The signatories included: James Hardy, the <em>BBC</em>’s director of news and current affairs, his deputy, Fran Unsworth; John Hardie <em>ITN</em>’s chief executive; John Ryley, the head of <em>Sky News</em>; John Pullman, global editor at <em>Reuters</em>; Deborah Turness, president of <em>NBC News</em> and Jon Williams, managing editor of international news at <em>ABC News</em>.</p> <p>Katy Clark MP said, </p><blockquote><p>“The 2011 pro-democracy protests in Tahrir Square were an inspiration to all those fighting for democracy across the world. It is therefore deeply concerning to see the current repression, intimidation and killings taking palace in Egypt. We must do all we can to ensure the victories won three years ago are not eradicated and that the country does not descend back into military rule. I therefore welcome the Egypt Solidarity initiative and wish it every success in fighting for justice, democracy and human rights.” </p></blockquote><p>Furthermore, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140129/halltext/140129h0001.htm">this debate</a> on Egypt took place in Westminster Hall on January 29.</p> <p>The trial comes at a time when journalists are under increasing attack in&nbsp;Egypt. The Egypt Journalists’ Syndicate <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/0/92908/Egypt/0/Egypt-Journalists-Syndicate-warns-police-against-c.aspx">issued</a> a condemnation against the interior ministry recently after reporters covering protests in&nbsp;Cairo&nbsp;were assaulted and their equipment seized, while some were even shot at with live ammunition; 19 journalists were arrested in a single day.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmed-magdy-youssef/egypts-most-powerful-man-tries-to-tame-media">Egypt&#039;s most powerful man tries to tame the media</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/gigi-ibrahim/militarized-media-in-egypt-dirty-war-making-many-of-us-blind">A militarized media in Egypt: a dirty war making many of us blind</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Civil society Democracy and government media journalists Journalism human rights abuses human rights freedom of speech freedom of expression Egypt Solidarity Initiative Thu, 20 Feb 2014 14:54:53 +0000 Egypt Solidarity Initiative 79541 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We need to talk about the UK media war on women https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/sarah-graham/we-need-to-talk-about-uk-media-war-on-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While Dylan Farrow's child abuse allegations against Woody Allen hold the headlines, it is time for journalists to realise that sexual violence is not about evil individuals, Asian grooming gangs, or 1970s BBC culture.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541222/Sarah Graham. Max Clifford. tabloid report.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541222/Sarah Graham. Max Clifford. tabloid report.jpg" alt="Max Clifford sensationalist tabloid reporting " title="" width="460" height="155" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Favoured tabloid details tend to feature sensational details. Credit: Anorak.co.uk.</span></p><p>A number of years ago I heard British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalist Bidisha quote feminist academic Germaine Greer: “The corporation changes the woman before the woman changes the corporation.” These words have weighed heavily on me in the early years of my journalism career.</p> <p>I later found myself at a protest, working with a reporter from a national news outlet. He spent a long time with his camera trained on an attractive blonde woman handing out flyers.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I don't make the rules, I just try not to break them,” he told me.</p> <p>These rules are no more evident than when you look at media reporting on violence against women and girls, which is rare and often dubious. Since January 2012 Karen Ingala Smith has begun the thankless task of logging all the women killed by male violence in the UK. As chief executive of domestic violence charity Nia, she is particularly passionate on the subject.</p> <p>Her Counting Dead Women campaign recorded <a href="http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/stop-ignoring-dead-women">140 women killed in 2013</a> by boyfriends, husbands, sons, grandsons, friends, relatives, acquaintances and strangers. That’s one woman every 2.6 days. Almost all of these deaths were reported as one-off incidents, many of them never going further than their local newspaper. At the same time, <a href="http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/Statistics2.php">85,000 women are raped</a> in the UK in a year. But many of these incidents are not deemed newsworthy enough for coverage.</p> <p>Favoured cases tend to feature attractive victims, sensational details, false allegations and violence committed by women. Young, conventionally attractive, mostly white victims are invariably granted the most column inches: if it can’t be illustrated with a photo of a pretty, smiling blonde in her school uniform, or the smutty details of some so-called ‘crime of passion’, it’s not worth printing.</p> <p>In coverage of the murder of Meredith Kercher, all mentions of the victim and of the male co-accused were overshadowed by the media wankfest over “Foxy Knoxy”. Just recently I read a headline about Amanda Knox’s “<a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/amanda-knox-retrial-verdict-meredith-3092236#.Uuoxand_sdU">dramatic makeover</a> before Meredith Kercher murder retrial”, as if Knox’s new bob was a newsworthy addition to the story.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even when cases are responsibly reported, many are presented as isolated aberrations, perpetrated by evil individuals. For the women whose abuse frequently remains incidental to the media angle, social change can only happen when individual journalists tear that rulebook up and throw it out of the window.</p> <p>The media industry requires a radical transformation in the way it treats women. It’s no longer enough to blindly continue working to the same sexist formulas that the newspapermen have been using for decades. Journalists instead need to rewrite the rules, exercising their right to hold power to account, starting with their own editors.</p> <p>Feminist campaigns about media imagery and the way women are represented do exist. The campaign to have topless models removed from Page 3 of tabloid paper The Sun has so far exceeded 130,000 signatures. The Lose The Lads Mags campaign successfully saw one supermarket chain demand that soft porn mags be delivered in sealed “modesty bags”. But for me it’s the language that’s really pernicious – and no more so than when it comes to reporting violence.</p> <p>Dylan Farrow this week published an open letter reaffirming allegations (first investigated in 1992) that she was sexually abused by her adoptive father Woody Allen. Dylan's allegations are the latest in a string of child sexual abuse claims made in recent years against male celebrities. Currently in the UK&nbsp;ageing TV and radio personalities Dave Lee Travis, Rolf Harris and William Roache are all facing courts over allegations of historic child sexual abuse, and comedian Freddie Starr has been arrested (for the third time) over further sexual abuse allegations. In the Metro newspaper on my morning commute, I observed an entire page dedicated to rape allegations against male celebrities.</p> <p>The Jimmy Savile revelations, and subsequent arrests of other household names, have had a profoundly transformative effect on the public consciousness. They have forced the UK to acknowledge the scale of sexual abuse so many of our national treasures were allowed to get away with by virtue of their celebrity. The phrase that’s always stuck with me about the Savile case is: "just the women". This quickly became a catchphrase after the producers of the BBC’s flagship news programme, Newsnight, spiked their exposé of Savile’s abuse. When justifying the decision to drop investigation into Savile's abuses, Newsnight editor Peter Rippon sent an email to producer Meirion Jones stating: "Our sources so far are just the women and a second-hand briefing.” He thought the feature wouldn't stand up with "just the women" as evidence.</p> <p>The personal integrity of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITV_(TV_network)">ITV</a> producers who later <em>did</em> break the story was more than just an embarrassment for Newsnight; it kick-started a sea change in the public consciousness about sexual abuse and empowered many more victims to come forward to report their abuse, with a renewed confidence that their allegations will be listened to and taken seriously. By December 2012, two months after the exposé aired, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20697738">589 victims had come forward</a> with allegations, of whom 82 per cent were female and 80 per cent were children or young people.</p> <p>I had just started a Masters in newspaper journalism at London's City University when ITV broke the story. I learnt a huge amount at City, but the biggest lesson I learnt during that time came from the aftermath of the Savile revelations: in the media, women are always "just the women". As a woman, a feminist and a journalist, I refuse to play by those rules.</p> <p lang="en-US">The real protagonists of this story, it quickly became clear, were Jimmy Savile and the BBC. In a lecture on journalism ethics, Professor Roy Greenslade asked who the real victims of Jimmy Savile were. Some bright spark, who in all likelihood is now a professional journalist working in a newsroom somewhere, said "Newsnight".</p> <p lang="en-US">To him, the women were peripheral to the important story - caught in the line of fire between a dead national icon and a disgraced broadcasting corporation.</p> <p>For Savile's many other victims, the women who bravely told their stories on camera were not incidental at all. Their words were evidence that they were no longer alone in their experiences of abuse. When hundreds more victims stepped forward it exposed a horrifying, ugly truth that the media were unprepared for.&nbsp;</p> <p>The post-Savile cases have been remarkable for forcing journalists to report male abuse as part of a pattern. The sheer number of cases make it impossible to ignore the fact that something bigger is going on.</p> <p>But the analysis remains far too narrow. </p> <p>The accepted angle on how these crimes could have happened is to blame “the culture of the BBC in the 1970s” – a time and place when groping was the norm and DJs couldn’t move for groupies throwing themselves at their feet. The implication is that we should ask: was it really any wonder that the lines between ‘flirtation with adoring fans’ and ‘abuse of children’ were a little blurred? This defence is troubling; it confines male violence to a particular space and time – the isolated acts of sick individuals within a specific and (atypical) culture.</p> <p>Few journalists, for all their analytical skills, have made the connection between “the culture of the BBC in the 1970s” and discussions about the impact of race in the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-18050192">Rochdale grooming case</a>, where nine Asian men were convicted of abusing white girls as young as 13-years-old. </p> <p>What really links the Rochdale abusers with Savile, Hall and the other alleged abusers is not their race, religion, employer, or the decade in which their crimes were committed. It is that they are all men, operating under male-dominated structures, abusing their power over more vulnerable women and children. Those links are there to be made, but they won’t be until feminist and pro-feminist writers force a shift in the media narrative by continuing to <a href="http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/why-ibelieveher-is-so-vital/">shout about it</a>.</p> <p>In order to truly tackle violence against women, people, especially men, need to recognise the pattern of male violence against women and understand the power dynamics behind it. The power men hold in the political sphere and the power they seek to exert through violence in the domestic sphere are not incidental. Under patriarchy we learn that masculinity is power and control, yet, for male journalists in male-dominated newsrooms, there is often no personal incentive to acknowledge those structures. The media, as shapers of public opinion, hold a huge responsibility here; changing attitudes calls for a structural and personal shift in the way we report such violence. That starts with addressing your own complicity in patriarchal power.</p> <p>In the last few months, with my Feminist Times hat on, I’ve had a number of conversations with women working in the domestic violence sector about how we can start enacting that change through our editorial content. The Counting Dead Women list of names reveals a shocking reality. It’s also a powerful piece of journalism, which has had a radical effect on the way I think about my journalistic responsibilities. These incidents should always be reported as part of a pattern of male domination and patriarchal control.</p> <p>Last week Ingala Smith reported that <a href="http://kareningalasmith.com/2014/01/16/more-british-women-were-killed-though-mens-violence-last-year-than-british-troops-killed-in-afghanistan-in-the-last-3-years/">99 members</a> of the British armed forces have been killed during the last three years of conflict in Afghanistan, compared with 264 dead women in the two years that she’s been counting. 15 women in the UK were killed in December 2013 alone. Why isn't there a national outcry?</p> <p>In the United States, the phrase ‘war on women’, is used to refer to conservative anti-choice policies. How radical a shift would it be to talk about a literal war on women, in which women are being raped, abused and killed, in this country, on a daily basis? &nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/chitra-nagarajan/how-politicians-and-media-made-us-hate-immigrants">How politicians and the media made us hate immigrants </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/simon-hodges/what%E2%80%99s-so-special-about-storytelling-for-social-change">What’s so special about storytelling for social change?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/janey-stephenson/why-monster-grendel-has-no-place-in-activism-today">Why the monster Grendel has no place in activism today</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/ray-filar/silence-death-sarah-schulman-on-act-up-forgotten-resistance-to-aids-crisis">Silence = death: Sarah Schulman on ACT UP, the forgotten resistance to the AIDS crisis </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/heather-mcrobie/literature-empathy-and-moral-imagination">Literature, empathy and the moral imagination</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women-in-journalism-not-trivial-subject">Women in journalism: not a trivial subject</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> <div class="field-item even"> Scotland </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Northern Ireland </div> <div class="field-item even"> Wales </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Creative Commons </div> </div> </div> Transformation Transformation United States Wales Northern Ireland Scotland England Civil society Culture Equality Internet Violence Against Women and Girls Journalism Woody Allen Patriarchy Sexual Abuse Jimmy Savile Transforming Ourselves Transforming Politics Transforming Society Sarah Graham Tue, 04 Feb 2014 10:11:55 +0000 Sarah Graham 79032 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bliss Was It in that Dawn to Be Next Door https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/martin-rose/bliss-was-it-in-that-dawn-to-be-next-door-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img style="margin-left: 5px;" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Martin.jpeg" alt="" width="140" align="right" />The difficulties for transnational African students and the situation in Egypt are the subjects for this month's double comment. The author recommends Hugh Robert's essay on Egypt.</p> </div> </div> </div> <h2>No three foot high giraffe</h2><p>Britons have many geographical misconceptions about North Africa. The first is the &lsquo;horizontal fallacy,&rsquo; the blithe assumption that North Africa is an east-west line of states stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, along the Mediterranean coast. Most journalistic commentators on what they would probably call &lsquo;the Middle East&rsquo; or &lsquo;the Arab World&rsquo; could count off the five coastal states, probably in the right order, but would be hard put to it to enumerate the next layer of states and peoples to the south. This Mediterranean-centred, map-driven perception accounts well enough for the seaborne empires of Rome, Carthage, Byzantium and Istanbul; and for the commercial and naval empires of the Middle Ages and the early modern period. But it doesn&rsquo;t really represent the dynamic of a culture which looks in both directions, standing as it always has, on the shores of a great sand-sea stretching south into Africa &ndash; the Soudan, as the whole belt of land south of the great desert used to be called.</p><p>Morocco in particular has always had a tremendously important north-south axis, with much of its history shaped by continuity with al-Andalus to the north, and the well-travelled road southwards into inner West Africa. A cultural and political zone that stretched from Barcelona to Timbuktu surrounded the core lands of the sultanate; and into it from the south spilled wave after wave of vigorous incomers &ndash; three imperial dynasties, innumerable slaves, travellers, traders, wives, concubines, soldiers and musicians. Timbuktu was conquered by Al-Mansour in 1591 and ruled tenuously by the Sultan for almost two centuries. What is now Mauritania and much of northern Mali named the Sultan at Friday prayers. The three great, virtually identical eleventh century minarets in Seville, Rabat and Marrakech symbolically tie the northern part of this great cultural hinterland together. From the south Tijani pilgrims travelled from Senegal to Fes and the shrine of Mawlana Ahmed al-Tijani; Moroccan merchant dynasties like the Benjellouns established offshoots in Senegal and elsewhere. The Casablanca Financial City project is designed explicitly to make Casa the financial services and export gateway into Africa.</p><p>So it isn&rsquo;t very surprising that modern Morocco&rsquo;s foreign policy and commercial activity are deeply implanted in West Africa. Nor is it surprising that migrants and students from West Africa travel north in search of education and employment. Some, to be sure, are on their way further north into Europe; but many, perhaps most, are in search of education. Of all African countries Morocco is the second largest destination (after South Africa) for transnational student movement, generous with student support for Africans at its universities and proud of its record.</p><p>But Morocco is no longer as welcoming as it was. There is a hard-edged, discriminatory attitude taking shape which sets Africans apart, and a country which for centuries has been, if not colour-blind at least open, omnivorous and many-hued, is turning its shoulder towards Africans here. As a micro-barometer of official attitudes I have watched with interest the rise and fall of the street-traders in the arcade below our building in Allel ben Abdellah. After February 20&nbsp;2011, when it was clearly felt that harassment of African&nbsp;<em>vu-compri</em>&nbsp;(as the Italians charmlessly but accurately call them) was imprudent, they started to arrive, moving a few yards each day up into the&nbsp;<em>nouvelle ville&nbsp;</em>from their pitches in Avenue Hassan II. Their cheerful smiles and groundsheets covered in carved giraffes and hippos, necklaces, combs and telephones became pleasantly familiar. Occasionally you&rsquo;d see them bundle their stuff away in a hurry and leg it back down the street, having caught a glimpse of an approaching uniform, and once or twice I saw them not leg it fast enough, and get some half-hearted stick as a consequence.</p><p>But they always came back, until the late spring of this year, when they suddenly disappeared back towards the&nbsp;<em>medina</em>, like a falling tide, and the arcades of Allel bin Abdellah were restored to their more usual, less colourful denizens. These men are probably not students, but for those who are, life is getting more difficult too.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.medea.be/2013/06/les-etudiants-subsahariens-au-maroc-ou-comment-se-sentir-etrangers-en-afrique/">An article published during the summer</a>&nbsp;on Grotius.fr gives a dry, uncomfortable account of the predicament of the 8,000 or so African students, mostly from Cameroon, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, at Moroccan universities, on the government bursaries, which are a plank of Moroccan aid to African countries, or in private establishments. On the whole, they don&rsquo;t have an easy time &ndash; and all accounts suggest that it is getting worse.</p><p>&ldquo;In the stories they tell of their lives, the students describe the gap between their expectations before they left home, and the reality, once they have arrived. Culture shock is painful, and incomprehension total. They meet Moroccan society in three places: the university, the street and &ndash; for students who live in an apartment &ndash; the neighbourhood. At university, relations with Moroccan students are rather distant, the Moroccans rather scornful of their sub-Saharan fellows. It&rsquo;s difficult to make contact, because they mostly speak Arabic, a language in which the African students haven&rsquo;t yet mastered. Experience in the street, most of all in the popular quarters, is negative for most African students. They are insulted, called &ldquo;azzi,&rdquo; a pejorative dialect word for a coloured person. They are harassed, and even have stones thrown at them by the children of the quarter. As for relations in the neighbourhood where they live, these are often warmer and more polite, and the students feel a little more at home.&rdquo;</p><p>This throws the Africans in on themselves, in their own African communities, sharing flats and expenses. &ldquo;Faced with Otherness, they try to recreate a familiar and a family atmosphere.&rdquo; And they forge a shared identity &ndash; often calling themselves &lsquo;Blacks,&rsquo; regardless of their country of origin, finding solidarity in their foreign-ness and a retreat from an often hostile environment.</p><p>And now I feel guilty for not having bought a three foot high giraffe.</p><p>This&nbsp;blog was <a href="http://marforioromano.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/no-three-foot-high-giraffe/">first published&nbsp;on&nbsp;<em>Mercurius Maghrebensis</em></a>&nbsp;on September 4, 2013.</p> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/threeheads.jpeg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <h2>When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drum</h2><p>Most journalists and commentators digest and regurgitate each other. We know this, but we read them because we don&rsquo;t have much choice, and it&rsquo;s not at all easy to break free of the apparently authoritative recycling of constantly repurposed opinion. Much, perhaps most, of what has been written about the Arab Spring in general, and Egypt in particular, falls into this category. We hear and read identikit comment on the Tahrir Revolution of January 2011, its betrayal by the SCAF and the Ikhwan, and the Counter-revolution of July 2013. I suspect that the anglophone press, both British and American, is particularly guilty of trotting out this too comfortable narrative which conflates Tahrir Square with&nbsp;<em>Les Miserables</em>, talks of Arab Spring succeeded by Arab Winter, of Islamists hijacking the Revolution, and of the army saving or hijacking it (selon gout). Most of us are at least occasionally guilty, in conversation or in writing, of using this sloppy intellectual template.</p><p>To read a really convincing analysis which flies squarely in the face of this romantic babble is very invigorating, and I strongly recommend&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n17/hugh-roberts/the-revolution-that-wasnt">Hugh Roberts&rsquo;s review essay i</a>n&nbsp;<em>The London Review of Books</em>&nbsp;(September 12, 2013) called&nbsp;<em>The Revolution That Wasn&rsquo;t.</em>&nbsp;Roberts does what most journalists can&rsquo;t, and places the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and its aftermath in a strongly anchored historical framework. Of the books he reviews it is clear that Hazem Kandil&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt&rsquo;s Road to Revolt</em>&nbsp;is particularly interesting and formative, but Roberts is himelf a distinguished scholar of North Africa who has lived in Cairo for more than a decade, and observes and deconstructs in precisely the way that journalists who flit in for a few frantic days of pieces to camera, do not.</p><p>I&rsquo;m not going to rehearse the review in detail here: it is essential reading, and I recommend it to you. What Roberts does is to suggest very coherently that what we think we know about it is what we are intended to think we know. He poo-poos the absurd figures for signatures on petitions and people at demonstrations; suggests coherently that the whole period, despite the idealism and courage of the demonstrators in the Square and across the country, is one not of revolution at all (at least in the Tunisian sense), but of a rebalancing between the Egyptian ruling institutions &ndash; a rebalancing that has seen the army, in constant tension with the presidency since Nasser, regain its upper hand. He shows Tamarod to be largely a glove-puppet of the army, and paints a very convincing picture of the Muslim Brotherhood&rsquo;s being forced into the trap of government that its wiser heads tried hard to resist, seeing all too clearly the consequences that would follow.</p><p>Like a bucket of cold water thrown over one&rsquo;s head, Roberts&rsquo;s article leaves one thinking more clearly, and dissipates the fog of easy answers. I tried it out on a serious and respected commentator on the region, based in London, who wrote back to me: &ldquo;Too many of today&rsquo;s journalists, myself included, are not close enough and do not know their subject and regurgitate rubbish and confuse the picture. This article was like lifting a veil and being shown some genuine light.&rdquo;</p><p>Hats off to the LRB (and note in passing that it ran a very interesting article by Hazem Kandil on March 21st called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n06/hazem-kandil/deadlock-in-cairo"><em>Deadlock in Cairo</em></a>). Its coverage of Egypt in particular is indispensible.</p><p>This&nbsp;blog was <a href="http://marforioromano.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/when-the-beating-of-your-heart-echoes-the-beating-of-the-drum/">first published&nbsp;on&nbsp;<em>Mercurius Maghrebensis</em></a>&nbsp;on September 24, 2013.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> <div class="field-item even"> Morocco </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Morocco Journalism culture Bliss Was It in that Dawn to Be Next Door Martin Rose Wed, 16 Oct 2013 15:02:30 +0000 Martin Rose 76060 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jailing of journalist exposes shortcomings of reforms in Morocco https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/hassan-masiky/jailing-of-journalist-exposes-shortcomings-of-reforms-in-morocco <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If the goal of Moroccan officials is to silence Anouzla, their attempts have been fruitless thus far, as more and more activists and international organizations adopt his case and propagate the same articles Moroccans are trying to suppress.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) recent video calling for jihad in Morocco is incendiary, violent and offensive. It is Al Qaeda propaganda, and as such its diffusion and reproduction is unwise and dangerous. Yet, a decision by the Moroccan website<em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lakome.com/">Lakome.com</a></em>&nbsp;to post a link to this AQIM video does not amount to a crime but rather to a lapse in judgment that calls for a warning and/or fine but not the jailing of the site’s editor.</p><p>The Moroccan government's resolution to arrest Mr. Ali Anouzla, the editor of the Arabic version of <em>Lakome.com</em>, and its threats to prosecute the Spanish daily <em>El Pais</em> for posting a link to the video, are rash decisions that have given AQIM more air-time and exposure than the 44 minutes registration in question could ever have achieved.</p><p>While the video is an incitement to terrorism and hatred, Mr. Anouzla who wrote several editorials calling for “secular” changes in Morocco, is hardly an AQIM apologetic. For Moroccan and international observers, the arrest and confinement of Ali Anouzla on the charges of “providing material support to terror groups” is politically motivated.</p><p>A quick scan of the jailed editor columns reveals the anti-establishment nature of his writings and his penchant for pushing the boundaries of freedom of press in Morocco. As&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/morocco-ali-anouzla-arrest-2013-09-18">Amnesty International</a>&nbsp;says,"[Anouzla] is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.” Since his arrest, <em>Lakome.com</em> has been re-publishing his articles to expose the political nature of the case.</p><p>Moroccan officials have not learned from their past mistakes. Time and time again the government attempts to muzzle outspoken critics using the judiciary, a measure which usually backfires, leaving the regime open to international criticism and further punishing the image of the Kingdom. The arrest of Anouzla is the latest chapter in a series of harassment cases against uncompromising journalists. Such instances reinforce the impression that media freedom is under attack in the country.</p><p>Rabat should revisit the cases of past outspoken writers who were either chased out of the country or silenced by the judicial system. Moroccan officials should consider the long term implications of such incidents on the reputation of the country as hostile to the freedom of speech. Might it not be the case that Anouzla too might eventually join the group of journalists who initially started as local celebrities conducting investigative reporting into corruption and political nepotism in Morocco, then turned into die-hard opponents of the regime?</p><p>The Moroccan authorities’ harassment and provocation of dissident voices have politically hardened several journalists who are currently in “self-imposed exile”. Today, writings by this group are the most vocal and widely read accounts of the Moroccan political scene, making the decision to force critics to move overseas or go "underground” thouroughly counterproductive.</p><p>If the goal of Moroccan officials is to silence Anouzla, their attempts have been fruitless thus far, as more and more activists and international organizations adopt his case and propagate the same articles Moroccans are trying to suppress. In fact, Anouzla moved from a local bold journalist unknown outside Morocco to an international cause célèbre thanks to Rabat's ill-advised decision to arrest him.</p><p>Popular outrage went beyond the condemnation of the ‘security apparatus'. Moroccan human rights activists harshly criticize the Islamist government of Prime Minster Benkirane (PJD) and its handling of the case. The public was especially furious with the Minister of Communications Mr. Mustapha El Khalfi - who not long ago was himself writing for a web-based news outlet like <em>Lakome.com&nbsp;</em>- for using vague and incoherent justifications to excuse the arrest of Anouzla and for defending restrictions on freedom of expression. During a recent conference at a Moroccan university, El Khalfi was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoEvzKRcHYA#t=26">booed by the crowd</a>&nbsp;chanting for the release of the jailed journalist, forcing the Minister to leave the event.</p><p>If Anouzla's case has generated sympathy worldwide, some Moroccan observers have espoused the official argument denouncing Anouzla's decision to publicize an “AQIM dispatch”. Several Moroccan citizens took to popular websites, decrying the video in which the narrator blasts the King's pro-western policies and deplores the living conditions of the Moroccan people while calling young Muslims to join the fight against non-believers.</p><p>Despite the domestic and international support he enjoyed, the&nbsp;<em>Lakome.com</em> editor remains a controversial figure in his country. Moroccan nationalists have accused him in the past of sympathizing with the Algeria-based Polisario Front. Anouzla, son to a Sahrawi family, was criticized for visiting the camps run by the Saharan separatists in Tindouf, Algeria. His stand on the western Sahara conflict remains divisive.</p><p>Nonetheless the French and Arabic versions of <em>Lakome.com</em>&nbsp;have been drawing much more traffic than ever. It is safe to say that Mr. Anouzla and his website have become very well-known since his arrest. For the critics, this move is a sign that Morocco is not serious about reforms and that recent political transformation are mere lip service.</p><p>The Moroccan establishment again underestimates international criticism regarding what officials consider as local matters. The Anouzla case will continue to have serious ramifications on Morocco’s foreign policy as more and more publicity is given to the event. The only way out of this trap is to release Anouzla and to handle the incident of the AQIM video in court according to&nbsp;<span>national and international media laws. Ali Anouzla is guilty of bad judgment not of terrorism.</span></p><p>The fact that Moroccan officials “tolerated” the writings of Anouzla and his like previously endowed Moroccco with the image of a “democratic and open” country. Conversely, the jailing of a critical voice shows the Kingdom to be unjust, overbearing and hesitant. The arrest of Mr. Ali Anouzla is a bad decision that needs to be rectified soon.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Morocco </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Morocco media Journalism human rights freedom of expression Hassan Masiky Fri, 11 Oct 2013 14:23:58 +0000 Hassan Masiky 75940 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sudan: journalists strike amid deadly demos https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/salma-ismail/sudan-journalists-strike-amid-deadly-demos <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The most active journalists in Khartoum are either being summoned, arrested, told what to say or are resigning.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Over 600 journalists in Sudan have decided to go on open strike from Saturday until the "crisis is resolved", as deadly protests enter their sixth day with reports suggesting that over 100 citizens have been killed. Protests erupted in many cities, but mainly in Khartoum, after the government announced the lifting of fuel subsidies in a press conference last week. Ordinary citizens were not only angry at the move but also angry that measures did not scale back on the government's budget.&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the protests the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) proceeded to use a wide range of intimidation methods to ensure the media's 'cooperation' with the government; including the confiscation of newspapers, summoning of journalists and verbal threats. The editor-in-chiefs of newspapers in Khartoum were told to avoid reporting about the lifting of subsidies and the demonstrations, or they could face being shut down. Authorities also 'ordered' editors of private and government newspapers to use the word 'vandals' instead of 'demonstrators'. Journalist Mahjoub Mohamed Salih, Editor-in-Chief of <em>Al Ayam</em> daily paper and the 2005 winner of the <em>Golden Pen Freedom Award</em> for press freedom immediately refused to cooperate with the NISS and announced during Wednesday's meeting that he would stop publishing. Two other newspapers, <em>Al Jareeda</em> and <em>Al Gharar</em> followed suit. While <em>Al Mijhar</em>, <em>Al Watan</em> and <em>Al Sudani</em> were confiscated by security, <em>Al Sahafa</em> witnessed mass resignations.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) issued a statement on Friday urging all journalists to take to various social media outlets instead of print media stressing, "silence is no longer possible". Among the more internationally prominent journalists on strike is Faisal Mohammad Salih, the 2013 winner of the <em>Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism</em>. One journalist Eisa Gadeed wrote on his Facebook page "we will not become false witnesses", stressing they could no longer accept government restrictions over editorial content. Saadeldein Hassan of <em>Al Arabiya</em>, who was detained vowed on his Facebook page to never betray his profession. Another female TV presenter has refused to go on air unless she’s allowed to tell the whole truth. She also said "please don't use my real name, the NISS is after me and has summoned me a million times already". The offices of <em>Sky News Arabia</em> and <em>Al Arabiya</em> have also been raided by the NISS, while media personnel have repeatedly been summoned, with many detained for hours. Journalist Lina Yagoub said "the strike which is 'open' is going to be very challenging".</p> <p>The most active journalists in Khartoum are either being summoned, arrested or are resigning. Newspaper stands were almost empty over the weekend. The unprecedented protests will be met with an 'iron fist' according to the government which says that 33 people have died and that their deaths were caused by "trained and organized factions". The opposition and rights groups on the other hand, put the death toll closer to 100. <em>The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies</em> and <em>Amnesty International</em> say at least 50 people have been killed by gunshots to the chest or head, citing witnesses, relatives, doctors and journalists. Hundreds had been detained, they added. The Head of Omdorman Hospital was reportedly summoned for speaking to international media about the number of casualties according to various sources, while the Head of Khartoum's mortuary resigned in defiance against orders to register deaths related to gunshot wounds as assigned to natural causes. Various videos surfaced on the internet showing men in uniform randomly shooting at unarmed civilians as protests gradually gain momentum and appear to become more organized. In one shaky video, a protester screams against the backdrop of the sound of bullets being shot "is this the peaceful protest you want?". </p><p>The US State Department on Friday blasted the "brutal crackdown" by the government of Sudan against protesters in Khartoum, calling it "heavy-handed" and "disproportionate". "I saw my neighbour give in to her son's pleas to be allowed to go out to watch the protests: a few minutes later he was shot dead. She ran after him, she was shot too", Awatfif from Doroshab said. Sudan is currently ranked 170th out of 179 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, published by <em>Reporters Without Borders,</em> because of its widespread use of intimidation and violence to censor journalists.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/asmara-adanis/sudan-revolution-in-making">Sudan: a revolution in the making?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Sudan media Journalism human rights abuses human rights Salma Ismail Fri, 04 Oct 2013 13:00:23 +0000 Salma Ismail 75798 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egypt shuts down more media channels https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ahmed-magdy-youssef/egypt-shuts-down-more-media-channels <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/600458_3638087745239_1686645150_n.jpg" alt="" hspace="5" align="left" width="80" /></p><p>The vaunted reputation of the military-led government for neutrality is rather easily exposed, when we realise that the decision to close <em>Al-Faraeen</em> came only after Okasha's harsh criticism of both the Egyptian Defence Minister and the Minister of Information.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some Egyptians show concern, while others deem it necessary to restore order and rebuild a national sense of unity among citizens during these decisive, modernising moments in the history of Egypt! The decision of the military-led government to shut down media channels is not without sceptics and advocates. </p> <p>On September 14, the privately-owned <strong><em>Al</em><em>-Faraeen</em></strong> satellite channel was abruptly closed and the arrest of controversial TV anchor and station owner Tawfiq Okasha, ordered by Egypt's authorities. According to the London-based <em>Asharq Alawsat</em> newspaper, the channel was shut down for "violating the media code of honour, offending both January 25th and June 30th revolutions, and disturbing public peace." </p> <p><em>Al-Faraeen</em> channel was taken off the air last year for a 45-day period of suspension by an administrative court for inciting opposition&nbsp; against the-then president Mohammed Morsi. But this time it is different.</p> <p>It was patently obvious that the rather unprofessional <em>Al-Faraeen</em> and its owner, Okasha, had an ideological slant against the Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood group during president Morsi's rule and even after his "popular" ouster by the army's generals on July 3. That's why when Okasha returned to the screen, many hailed him as a national hero! But, this time Okasha's way of criticizing those who rule the country has backfired on him. </p> <p>Only two days before having his channel taken off air on September 14, Okasha had attacked the Egyptian Defence Minister and armed forces chief general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, along with his Minister of Information Doria Sharaf al-Din. He even issued a statement commenting on his channel's closure, saying that this criticism might have contributed to <em>Al-Faraeen</em>'s fate. Now, the same people who used to heap praises on Okasha for his bravery in criticizing the ousted president Mohamed Morsi, have failed to utter a single word on what has now befallen him and his channel.</p> <p>Part of this silence has been prepared&nbsp; by an earlier court decision to close another four television channels for, “insulting the armed forces ... and inciting foreign countries against Egypt.” Among the channels that went off air are the Muslim Brotherhood's own station, <strong><em>Ahrar 25</em></strong>, and <strong><em>Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr</em></strong><em>, </em>the Egyptian arm of the Qatari-funded network, along with two other Islamist channels, <strong><em>Al-Quds</em></strong> and <strong><em>Al-Yarmuk</em></strong>.</p> <p>Soon after this court decision, Egypt's authorities raided <em>Al-Jazeera</em>’s offices in Cairo and expelled three foreign journalists working for <em>Al-Jazeera</em>'s English language channel, claiming that they didn't have correct press credentials! In fact, the Egyptian officials laid the blame for shutting down <em>Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr</em> at the feet of the Qatari-funded network's policy of only boradcasting Muslim Brotherhood protests against the government, and thus, spreading, &nbsp;“rumours and claims that are harmful to Egyptian national security and threaten the country's unity."</p> <p>On the face of it, the Egyptian authorities wanted to deliver an important message, that is: we don't only close channels with political views and stances different from ours, but the same policy applies to every single media platform that violates the media code of honour. In other words, though <em>Okasha</em> is known for his harsh criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood on <em>Al-Faraeen</em>'s programming, this doesn't mean that the Egyptian authorities will turn a blind eye, once he violates the laws!</p> <p>But this vaunted reputation of the military-led government for neutrality is rather easily exposed, when we realise that the decision to close <em>Al-Faraeen</em> came only after Okasha's harsh criticism of both the Egyptian Defence Minister and the Minister of Information. </p> <p>But when the Egyptian authorities shut down Islamist-run TV stations after the overthrow of president Morsi on July 3, many Egyptians including the so-called elites, applauded this move. Yasser Fouad, a member of the Tamarrod movement, told <em>Deutsche Welle</em> that these channels were inciting unrest and violence. "I think shutting down these channels was to protect their personnel from the public uproar," he added. Fouad also pointed out that the case of <em>Al-Faraeen</em> is totally different from those Islamist channels. "Okasha has no influence; he is not regarded as a revolutionist, but those on the Islamist channels are very much adherents to the Islamists," Fouad elaborated. However, it seems that two months after this interview, Okasha has finally been regarded as a revolutionist!</p> <p>When the Egyptian authorities raided <em>Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr's</em> office in Cairo and confiscated some of its equipment in September 2011 during the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' reign, the April 6 Youth Movement harshly condemned the authorities. They&nbsp; threatened to take legal action against the decision of the SCAF and cabinet to temporarily suspend the granting of new permits to satellite channels. The April 6 Youth Movement considered the raid on <em>Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr</em> offices a "setback to the Egyptian Revolution". But, nearly two years later, when the same scenario is repeated, the April 6 Youth Movement too has decided to tone down its criticism and condemnation. Mohammed Moussa, the spokesman of the independent movement, reaffirmed the necessity of creating a media code of honour to be adhered to by everyone: "Only a court decision should be made to say a channel violates the media laws, not the mere personal opinions; as <em>Al-Jazeera</em> and <em>Al-Yarmuk</em> are very much inciting violence and there are other channels that incite violence as well, so there must be a media code of honour everyone adheres to."</p><p> It seems that the so-called elites who are regularly hosted on talk shows and television programmes, and who are shoring up the idea of detaching religion from the political and civic domains, are not only afraid of criticizing the military-led government and its controversial decisions, but, are ready to vindicate its most unwarranted actions, even if they harshly condemned the same actions not so long ago.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gigi-ibrahim/militarized-media-in-egypt-dirty-war-making-many-of-us-blind">A militarized media in Egypt: a dirty war making many of us blind</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ahmed-magdy-youssef/egypt-to-its-journalists-turn-blind-eye-or-adopt-our-viewpoint">Egypt to its journalists: Turn a blind eye, or adopt our viewpoint!</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ahmed-magdy-youssef/on-al-jazeeras-lopsided-coverage-of-egypt">On Al-Jazeera&#039;s lopsided coverage of Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ahmed-magdy-youssef/in-egypts-media-two-camps-one-loser">In Egypt&#039;s media: Two camps, one loser!</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Journalism media You tell us Ahmed Magdy Youssef Wed, 02 Oct 2013 10:14:43 +0000 Ahmed Magdy Youssef 75730 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Journalism in Syria is fast becoming a one-way ticket to death https://www.opendemocracy.net/atul-v-mohan/journalism-in-syria-is-fast-becoming-one-way-ticket-to-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Journalists report the news - but who reports on their safety?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>When an area becomes lined with conflict, internal strife and&nbsp;resonates with constant fire fights and bombings, the citizens flee, shops close and the area gets deserted. Even when the situations are&nbsp;so intense that the <em>Red Cross</em> or volunteers from similar organizations&nbsp;leave, there will still be journalists on the scene. They will still&nbsp;be covering the news for readers worldwide, including the hazard of interviewing various political or military leaders in conflict&nbsp;zones. We have seen great journalists like Robert Fisk, John Wiener, Peter&nbsp;Arnett etc who were able to do their jobs exceedingly well because of an&nbsp;unwritten gentleman’s agreement that during a conflict or a war,&nbsp;unarmed personnel not involved in the conflict shall not be harmed,&nbsp;least of all a deputed volunteer from organizations like the <em>UN</em> or a&nbsp;journalist. But lately, we have seen atrocities committed and&nbsp;injustice meted out at journalists in such areas. Syria has reigned top of the list since the crisis began.</p><p>Journalism in Syria is quickly becoming a one-way ticket to death. The&nbsp;<em>Committee to Protect Journalists</em> (CPJ), an independent organization founded for the betterment of journalists worldwide maintains that at least 36 journalists have been killed in 2013, out of which a whopping 17 were reporting the news in Syria, making Syria the only country whose journalist mortality rate is in the two-figures. <em>Reporters Sans Frontières</em> (RSF), a France-based international nonprofit organization estimates the figure being above 25, the most recent deaths being those of Yara Abbas, a 26 year old War Reporter who was shot by a rebel sniper on May 2013 and Fidaa al Baali, a citizen journalist who passed away due to injuries sustained from government shelling on July 5, 2013.</p><p>The total death toll of reporters is said to be around 150 since the Syrian crisis began nearly two and a half years ago. The only comparison that can be drawn are with the Iraq war and Vietnamese wars, but they lasted respectively four and ten times longer.&nbsp;</p><p>Syria is now officially the most dangerous place for a journalist to be; hugely tampering with the quality of news reporting from there. The dearth of talent has of course paved the way for citizen reporters whose popularity diminished after the death of Fidaa al Baali.</p><p>The Government, as opposed to providing protection to journalists, has now turned hostile towards them to the extent of jailing or detaining them for ‘doing their job’. In February 2013, 13 Syrian journalists were arrested in a raid of their office at the <em>Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression</em> in Damascus, out of which 5 still remain incarcerated.</p><p>There has been similar oppression by the government against journalists in Pakistan, Iran, and Israel etc. The Philippines military said it would issue arrest warrants for Baker Atyani, a&nbsp;veteran Jordanian journalist who was filming a documentary on Abu Sayyaf, one of several military Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern Philippines. But, he disappeared along with his crew in June 2012 and is presumed dead or kidnapped.&nbsp;Hundreds of&nbsp;journalists continue to be jailed in Turkey and around 800 face charges.&nbsp;Journalists were put on trial on terrorism charges for interviewing members of the KCK (Koma Civakên Kurdistan), an alleged terrorist organization in Turkey. Ertugrul Mavioglu, an investigative journalist based in Turkey told the <em>Guardian</em> that "The government wants to set an example; it wants to intimidate”. He added "Journalists are being told: there are limits on what you are allowed to say.”</p><p>The biggest danger a journalist in Syria faces is the possibility of getting killed, either by mistake or by a planned assassination.&nbsp;While most of these deaths could be attributed to bad luck, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, there have been instances where journalists were assassinated for political reasons.&nbsp;Death of journalists has led to few professionals willing to relay eyewitness accounts of the crisis. All that remain are citizens reporting and as well as being killed, they could be heavily infleuenced or corrupted by government or rebel forces.&nbsp;Even with organizations like the <em>UN</em>, the<em> International Press Institute</em> (IPI), <em>Reporters Sans Frontières</em> (RSF)&nbsp;etc. there is no way of guaranteeing the lives of journalists in Syria.</p><p>Journalists are needed to help keep a balance of power and freedom of speech and expression. For them it is not just a job; it is their duty. They must not be harmed. A countermeasure could be to set up an international organization supported by the UN, with jurisdiction to try countries for their use of force against reporters. Reporters should also be given some amount of immunity, not different from the one diplomats enjoy. Only then can the profession of journalism be kept true to its purpose.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ahmed-magdy-youssef/egypt-to-its-journalists-turn-blind-eye-or-adopt-our-viewpoint">Egypt to its journalists: Turn a blind eye, or adopt our viewpoint!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/gigi-ibrahim/militarized-media-in-egypt-dirty-war-making-many-of-us-blind">A militarized media in Egypt: a dirty war making many of us blind</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-morsi-to-sisi-evolution-of-targeting-journalists-in-egypt">From Morsi to Sisi: the evolution of targeting journalists in Egypt </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ferry-biedermann/egypt-when-journalists-are-not-welcome">Egypt: when journalists are not welcome</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/william-horsley/unholy-mixture-surveillance-law-and-setback-for-journalism">An unholy mixture: surveillance, the law and a setback for journalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Syria Syria war media Journalism Citizen Journalism Violent transitions Atul V Mohan Mon, 16 Sep 2013 09:49:51 +0000 Atul V Mohan 75367 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Authentic journalism: weapon of the people https://www.opendemocracy.net/al-giordano/authentic-journalism-weapon-of-people <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The path out of the crises wrought by commercial journalism opens when citizens steal back the mission that big media claimed but failed to do: Honest, coherent storytelling. </div> </div> </div> <br /><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/anselhertz.jpg" title="Authentic Journalism" /><br /><font size="1"><a href="http://www.mediahacker.org/">Ansel Hertz/Mediahacker.org</a></font> <br /><p>Newspapers are downsizing and going out of business. Major &nbsp;broadcast, satellite and cable news organizations are outsourcing and closing international bureaus. The credibility of commercial journalism is at an all time low. And with these events comes the constant tearful drumbeat by media commentators that &ldquo;the media are in crisis&rdquo; and lament that this is supposedly bad for democracy.</p> <p>They have it backwards: News media have lost credibility, audience and budget precisely because their editorial behavior has helped produce crisis and become a burden, not a benefit, to democracies.</p> <p>In the United States, we know that the jig is up when complaints about &ldquo;the media&rdquo; are now so popular that an entire sub-industry of commercial cable TV media has identified the public&rsquo;s discontent as its very own market niche and now rents its attention to advertisers. From the U.S., &ndash; a country whose few surviving net export products include media and entertainment &ndash; came a recent example in late October when cable channel Comedy Central&rsquo;s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert drew hundreds of thousands of citizens to &ldquo;The Rally for Sanity and/or Fear&rdquo; in Washington, DC, which <em>The New York Times</em> described as &ldquo;an expensive, engrossing act of media criticism.&rdquo;</p> <p>There, Stewart aimed a brilliant critique at the &ldquo;24-hour political pundit professional panic conflictinator;&rdquo; the amalgam of cable TV &ldquo;news,&rdquo; newspapers (both high and lowbrow), magazines, radio and Internet commentators that drum up the daily outrage on all sides around the ever-changing <em>scandal du jour. </em>&ldquo;The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen,&rdquo; Stewart said, &ldquo;or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>While the daily struggles of people and even entire nations receive passing, superficial or no attention from the mainstream media after the first days of a story&rsquo;s novelty (a movement in Iran, resistance to a coup in Honduras, the aftershocks of an earthquake in Haiti and its people&rsquo;s efforts to rebuild are some recent examples of the mass media&rsquo;s attention deficit disorder), media organizations have been reduced to chasing ever smaller subgroups of audience share and can only hold their attention by pandering to each group&rsquo;s prejudices and preconceptions. In the U.S., Fox News tells the bloodthirsty right what it wants to hear, MSNBC seeks a similar market on the unhappy left, and now Comedy Central caters to those of us who are annoyed by both political flanks and seek a little comic relief.</p> <p>It is already clich&eacute; to say that &ldquo;the problem of media&rdquo; is now central among the challenges to democracy, freedom and justice. The bigger question and challenge is: <em>What can we do about it?</em></p> <p>The Internet, we were told by its pioneers, would solve all this for us, providing a shiny new world of democratized media. But no matter how much &ldquo;new media&rdquo; appears to displace its predecessors, the old rules still apply: Power concentrates around those who already have it, and each new run at it from below is absorbed by even newer technologies of cooptation.</p> <p>Yet, there <em>are</em> cracks in the shifting media landscape that can be exploited and widened from below, presenting opportunities to those who have critical stories to tell and are resourceful enough to create their own media to do so.</p> <p>After working as a journalist in commercial newspapers, magazines, radio and television and early Internet provider services, in the 1990&rsquo;s I left behind the commercial media (a category which properly must include state-owned media, from PBS to BBC to Al Jazeera) and never looked back. For the past ten years I&rsquo;ve published Narco News &ndash; <a href="http://www.narconews.com/">www.narconews.com</a> - reporting from Latin America, and founded its School of Authentic Journalism, which trains talented young men and women of social conscience to put journalism to use for the good of societies rather than only the good of one&rsquo;s career. If we take any lesson from having survived the dot-com boom, the dot-com bust, and the encroachment by big media on the Internet over the past decade, it is that David can still fell Goliath, but not by becoming over-enamored with the latest technology available. Far from it: The new and shiny gizmos can&rsquo;t save us. They&rsquo;re tools we can use, but the dinosaurs use them too!</p> <p>For over ten years our own laboratory in creating media from below, rejecting advertising as a funding model (instead relying on the small contributions of hundreds of readers and supporters), has come up with many ideas and innovations, too many to list in a single essay, but the most important, we conclude, are two:</p> <h3>1. A people&rsquo;s media must take back journalism from the mass media.</h3> <p>The main reasons that so much &ldquo;alternative journalism&rdquo; and its younger cousin, &ldquo;digital activism,&rdquo; have failed to captivate the public&rsquo;s attention and support, are that too many of these projects either deteriorated into the equivalent of predictable sloganeering and pamphleteering, or they put too much faith in technology when the real challenge is a human one. The public still wants and respects truthful investigative reporting presented coherently with good writing and decent production value. But from so many bloggers to the much decomposed Indymedia projects, their pages have become spaces for denouncing supposed evils and shouting strident opinions, much like the commercial news outlets they rail against, with very little sense of public service and of opening space for the people themselves to speak. Work that is sloppily done is more easily co-opted, too, by institutional media organizations that often repackage (and distort) the reports of citizen journalists on the justification of &ldquo;fixing&rdquo; them to &ldquo;meet international standards.&rdquo; The more coherence with which a story is told provides it better defenses against such appropriation and distortion.</p> <p>Citizen journalism, in some corners, however, has shown it can take from big media what they claim to do and do it better: Go out there and report stories, interview real people, make sure their voices are heard accurately and without distortion, investigate and produce documents and evidence of official wrongdoing (the staggering public support and donations to Wiki-Leaks, for example, indicate a significant hunger and thirst for this kind of reporting). In sum, the solution is no more complicated than embarking on a humble return to the basics of reporting a news story: the proverbial &ldquo;who, what, when, where, why and how&rdquo; of what happens each day in human events.</p> <p>One doesn&rsquo;t need a degree from a two- or four-year journalism school to grasp and implement these basics. The School of Authentic Journalism teaches the core of it in ten days, much of it in one plenary session. The gist of it can be learned, now, from a seven-minute Internet video:</p> <object width="530" height="409"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/vrg6UCXmqSE?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/vrg6UCXmqSE?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="530" height="409"></embed></object> <p>In sum, journalism is no more nor less than honest storytelling. And since most people have some skill at telling stories, certainly their own if not others, it is a craft that is accessible and available for most people to learn and practice.</p> <p>Journalism must be demystified and returned to the people. Most people on earth don&rsquo;t get their stories told in the media, or worse, they are &ldquo;told&rdquo; but falsely or tendentiously, so it&rsquo;s no wonder they&rsquo;re tuning out from the media, or even when tuning in, disgusted with it. Through the telling of stories of the great mass of people &ldquo;down below&rdquo; who are mostly under the mass media radar, authentic journalists gain the attention and earn a chance at the trust of the very public that the mass media left behind. And this brings us to our second main conclusion:</p> <h3>2. The best teachers of those who want to save journalism are those who are already struggling to save their communities, peoples and nations.</h3> <p>Commercial media&rsquo;s relationship with social movements, civil resistance, and other popular struggles is either one of neglect or outright hostility. People organizing for their human and economic rights, for justice, for freedom, for more democracy, are generally ignored or treated with great condescension by institutional media organizations. Much of this happens because the interests that movements and peoples struggle against &ndash; corporations and governments &ndash; are the power-holders that commercial and state-owned media have chosen to favor and indulge well before movements erupt to challenge them. Thus, media and its practitioners now find themselves in a struggle of their own for survival, but without a clue as to how to wage that fight, because they don&rsquo;t understand the dynamics &ndash; strategic, tactical and moral &ndash; of political dissidence and social movements.</p> <p>We conclude that simply sharing the skills and tools of communications &ndash; the &ldquo;know how&rdquo; of journalism &ndash; with a wider public, important as it is, offers only half a solution. The other half requires that authentic journalists walk with social movements, place ourselves closer to them, and become something more than mere reporters of their stories, but students of their strategies and tactics.</p> <p>At the School of Authentic Journalism, a large part of our curriculum is to listen to people who have organized and led successful civil resistance, community organizing campaigns, and strategic nonviolent struggles, and learn something more complicated than the all important basics of journalism, too: the underlying strategic dynamics of such conflicts and movements, so they can be reported effectively.</p> <p>At the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism, we heard from the Rev. Jim Lawson &ndash; the right-hand strategist of Martin Luther King, Jr. and organizer of the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 &ndash; during multiple sessions of the school. Here&rsquo;s a video, made by students and professors who were there, that shares part of what we learned from Lawson in Mexico:</p> <object width="530" height="409"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/deF5e6yNy-Y?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/deF5e6yNy-Y?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="530" height="409"></embed></object> <p>It has been through reporting on the struggles of indigenous peoples, environmental and labor movements, civil resistance against coups d&rsquo;etat, and corporate and government abuses, that we, as authentic journalists, began to get a clue as to how to wage our own struggle to dislodge and replace the official media that so ill serve and worsen the injustice and repression that disfigure societies on every continent. We&rsquo;ve done this mainly in Latin America, where such movements have obtained many victories over the past decade. To us, reporting their stories has also provided us with ways to develop strategies and tactics to win our own struggles to bring forth a more authentic journalism in service of the people.</p> <p>Our path out of today&rsquo;s media miasma is thus found by starting over: Democratic society cries out for a return to the fundamentals of what old media claimed to be: the simple slingshot of real, truth-and-clarity-seeking, shoe-leather-eroding, Old School reporting and journalism; the kind that bubbles up from the streets and back roads where real people live and work and, regularly throughout history, helped citizens to reassert ourselves as captains of our own destinies. History has always been written by such struggles, and the present time is no different.&nbsp;</p> <p>The life&rsquo;s blood that gave birth to all freedoms and to all democracies throughout history has been people&rsquo;s movements and struggles.</p> <p>The road to a more authentic journalism is found by walking alongside, learning from, and reporting on those movements.</p> Video Strategic Nonviolence Social Movements media Latin America Journalism Jack DuVall - guest editor 16 November 2011 Internet Conflict Communications Civil Resistance Authentic Journalists openResistance Al Giordano Fri, 19 Nov 2010 12:27:45 +0000 Al Giordano 56875 at https://www.opendemocracy.net