Archive for the ‘Middle East & North Africa’ Category

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Adventures in Media Development – This blog’s last post, come see my new and improved blog

April 10, 2010


Well, I finally had to bite the bullet and upgrade my blog. This one – https://aimd.wordpress.com – is now just an archive. My new blog can be found at http://adventuresinmediadevelopment.com.

As I said in my blogpost “Give me some sugar, WordPress“, my taste for WordPress.com soured. The biggest thing was that I couldn’t use Javascript on WordPress.com, which was killing any chance of experimenting with social media widgets from sites like Twitter, Facebook, and especially CoveritLive–the kinds of tools that really driving blog innovation and online interactivity. In fact, it was getting to the point where I really couldn’t try much of anything out, and that’s a bad thing for someone in international media development. How else am I going to arm myself with new tools and tricks for my work in developing countries than to practice them myself?

I had held out for so long to the mantra that I would stick to free tools to maximize the likelihood that my perspective would stay, as much as possible, rooted in realities faced by the people I tend to work with in developing countries. Most people won’t or can’t pay for luxuries like hosting a site or learning the technical skills needed to do what is really rather advanced to your average person anywhere in the world. So, you have to come to them, meet them on their technological and financial terms.

But, I finally gave in. I was stunting myself too much.

So, there’s this new site now. It’s still very much in its beginning stages. I figured, rather than wait, it would be best to go ahead and announce it, and shift all operations over to it. Why slow down? This means that the design’s likely to go through some changes as I figure out what I want it to look like and how I want it structured, and it means that content will be a little light for a while. However, I am also going to transfer my content from my old blog here to that new blog, to get all of my content under one roof. That will take time. I’m not planning on running at full speed to get it all over there.

Let the new era begin.

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2009: A retrospective on my year of media development adventures

January 4, 2010

2009 was a banner year for me in terms of media development. It was not by any means my starting point in media, but it could go down as year in which my work achieved lift off. But all was done in the name of helping people spread information, express themselves, and/or strengthen their networks with other people to promote change. So, I thought I’d take a look back at my year in media development, get it all together in one place, take stock, establish something to compare 2010 to, reminisce a little.

Researching Extractive Industry Transparency and Journalism Development in Africa

I began the year leading a team through a study to assess needs and effective training practices to raise the level of business journalism in Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda. Our findings would then be synthesized into a report to provide training and media development recommendations to Revenue Watch Institute, which wanted to use training to improve business journalism, and promote extractive industry transparency. The best part of this project was that I got to spend two weeks in January in balmy Nigeria–a country the Bradt guide calls “Africa for the Advanced”–and meet face to face with Nigerian journalists, journalism educators, and media development experts. Lagos, in particular, was INTENSE. And fantastic. I also got a chance in this to bone up on my skills developing surveys and interview guides, building networks of contacts, designing a team research wiki, and producing a report of findings. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Free Expression, mobile communications, and journalism training – A couple of weeks in the life

December 21, 2009

Well, it’s been a vibrant and boisterous couple of weeks in Lake Media Development, my hometown. I’ve been busy with a wide range of topics for a wide range of reasons. Just like the McPoyles like it. I’ve long taken the view that expression and development issues are so entwined and intermingled that any truly effective solution to them requires an expansive and comprehensive understanding of them. So, any chance I get to dig deep into new facets is more than welcome. This is the stuff that I live and breath.

Here’s a taste of the last few weeks in my adventures and explorations:

Defamation of Religions and Freedom of Expression

I’ve been reading about the Human Rights Council’s resolution 7/19 “Combating defamation of religions”, passed last spring, condemning the defamation of religions as a human rights violation. It would make sense that religion be seen as a human right, and that we should aim not to trample upon any human right. The concern, however, is that it clashes with the human right to expression. By protecting a religion from defamation, in the way that it is broadly defined in this resolution, you put the clamp on the right to question and even criticize a religion. You give a religion itself the status of having rights, rather than an individual, which has been the norm in international law. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Why Spammers and Virus Programmers Are Worse Than They Might Think

November 16, 2009

New media, in case you haven’t noticed, have made it wonderfully and horrifically easier to send information to people you know and don’t know. The upside here is that it has been a boon to staying in touch with people, and communicating information to people who might well be interested, but might not yet be aware of you. The downside, of course, is the ever-increasing threat of spam and computer viruses.

I get that it is inevitable people will abuse the system. Some people will be able to sleep at night after a day of pummeling people’s inboxes, Twitter accounts, etc. with unwanted junk that unfortunately enough people will opt into to sustain the viability of this tactic. And, some people will have some kind of bone to pick with, say, Microsoft, that they will be able to sleep at night knowing that they stuck it to some adversary, outweighing the tremendous inconvenience it causes to otherwise innocent people just trying to get on with their lives in the digital world. Read the rest of this entry ?

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WaPo’s Social Media Guidelines: Bad News for International Media Development

October 11, 2009

407568812_8775ed516f_oI understand why The Washington Post would want to come up with the social media guidelines they recently set for their journalists that greatly constrain their use of social media. At least, I think I do.

They want to remain a reputable source of objective news (if objective news is even possible). And, they’d like to discourage the potential for their journalists to go “rogue” with their opinions and personal lives such that it could digitally be traced back to WaPo, and damage that reputation. Understandable. Social media are still kind of in their “Wild West” phase, and the technology makes it MUCH easier to publish online than to consider the implications of publishing online. Definitely a recipe for potential disaster in an industry in which reputation can be everything.

However, there are implications of instituting the guidelines they chose that could dramatically impact the future of media in a very negative way. Read the rest of this entry ?

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New Media and The Middle East – Challenging Authority in Iran

September 30, 2009

This is another installment in my series of posts on examples of ways new media are being used to challenge authority in the Middle East. This post will focus on Iran.

Internet access in Iran has seen a particular explosion, growing faster than any other Middle Eastern country, according to Reporters Without Borders.  “From 2000 to 2007,” reported Sepideh Parsa, “the number of users grew from 250,000 to 18 million, which accounts for 53.7% of users in the region”.

Within this explosion has been the rise of blogging in Iran, with the blogosphere becoming such a phenomenon as to warrant its current nickname, “Weblogistan”.  This rise in blogging is having political ramifications for the Iranian State.  “Blogs have become an essential medium for dissidence against the autocratic regime and its state-controlled media”, said Parsa.  “Iran has one of the strictest censorship policies in the Middle East. Thus, blogs offer Iranians the only platform to peacefully exchange their political thought, emotions, and opinions while overcoming the boundaries that have been imposed by the government”. Read the rest of this entry ?

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New Media and The Middle East – Challenging Authority in Egypt

September 26, 2009

3010243499_52df7e2a27_oNew media, especially social media, are playing a significant role in challenging authority and states in the Middle East. This is the first post in a series I will publish on examples of how new media are being used toward this end. Egypt will start off this series.

Egyptians have begun using online social-networking tools like blogs, Facebook, and YouTube as tools of dissent against the existing authority.  This is significant given that the reigning president, Hosni Mubarak, is seen as a dictator—in fact, one of the world’s ten worst dictators—and his reign has been marked by human rights abuses and acts against freedom of expression that have warranted calling him one. Read the rest of this entry ?