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12 May, 2011
Beyond the Arab Spring: what it means for development
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: development​, journalism​, media sector, technology |
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By James Deane
As events continue to unfold in Syria and elsewhere, an intense topic of conversation this One World Media Week has been on the implications of the powerful effects of media and social media in shaping the 2011 “Arab Spring”. At an ODI event on Monday​, the discussion focused less on the specific events in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond and more on what their wider significance might be, especially for development. A key conclusion was that, for all the extraordinary scale and speed of change, events need to be considered from a long term perspective.
Despite the optimism generated by recent events, until recently much of the narrative on the future of democracy and even the role of communication in fostering democracy was becoming pessimistic. The so-called “twitter revolutions” in Iran and Moldova in 2009 did not result in major change; in Kenya, local language radio stations created through major liberalisation were implicated in fuelling violence in 2007/8; hate media seemed to be on the rise elsewhere, as did the sophistication in the use of new media by extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and Al Shabaab.
Accompanying these events, arguments made by commentators such as Evgeny Morozov, pointed to the “Net Delusion​” and the degree to which governments and other authorities can and do increasingly exercise political control and surveillance through the web. Scholars such as Larry Diamond argued for good reason that the world had entered a “​Democratic recession​”. Towards the end of the last decade, democracy had been overthrown or gradually stifled in a number of key states including Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, Venezuela, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Now, as suggested by the focus on Monday night, we are back to optimism about both the future of democracy and the obviously critical role of media and communication in creating the conditions for people to exercise democratic voice and power. There are plenty of people who argue that it was not laptops who marched on Tahrir Square but people and that revolutions are nothing new. Nevertheless, most who were involved have argued that events in Egypt and Tunisia were hugely facilitated because a critical mass of people had access to mobile telephony and social media, had the tools to organise and crucially had been sensitised to a different political reality by the increasingly satellite prevalence of independent media such as Al Jazeera and the BBC.
The potential of information and media is heading up the development as well as the political and diplomatic agendas. Development organisations are more and more focused on the problems of ensuring that citizens can demand accountability from governments and service providers.
It is becoming ever clearer just how profound the implications of new communication and media environments are for democratic, governance and development outcomes. The message from this meeting was that the time has come to move beyond the sudden rush of enthusiasm that events such as the Arab Spring prompt, to a more considered longer term set of frameworks and strategies that can properly integrate media and communication issues into development, diplomatic and media support efforts.
 
3 May, 2011
World Press Freedom Day: beyond advocacy
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: journalism​, local media, media sector, media training |
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By Kate Noble
Unesco hosts World Press Freedom Day annually on 3 May to “keep press freedom at the forefront of the global agenda”. And up to December last year, organisations like the BBC WST working to support the media and freedom of expression around the world were beavering away on plans to do just that.
Under the theme ‘21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers’ we would, no doubt, have focused on decreasing freedoms in the context of increasing internet access; threats to journalists and citizen journalists in undemocratic societies; the growth and impact of the blogosphere; protection of information and Wikileaks; and the importance of social media.
As it turns out, this year we hardly need reminding at all.
Ongoing protests across the Middle East and North Africa have clearly demonstrated that a thirst for freedom of expression is not simply a Western democratic ideal, and that media and communication has a central role to play in achieving fundamental shifts in society.
Arguments over the extent of social media’s influence on these events abound. While some speak of the revolution that started with a hashtag, others dismiss the ‘myth’ of a Facebook revolution.
Annabelle Sreberny of SOAS, University of London hits both the middle ground and the nail on the head: “Clearly people have made revolution without [social media]. But in repressive regimes … Facebook provides a space where silence and fear are broken and trust can be built, where social networks can turn political, and where home and Diaspora can come together. Whatever the intentions of their developers, social media are being used to provide news and information; to plan and coordinate action; and to tell the world what is going on.”
In other words, social and new media matters, and will continue to do so. Which brings us to the most important question right now: what happens next?
Development assistance focused on democratisation is already being boosted, policy responses being formulated and programmes being developed for immediate implementation. There is no doubt that vast sums of money will be spent right across the region; now is the time to consider how best to do this.
Along with donors, private companies and non-governmental organisations working on media development and free speech are now in the process of working out how best to support both people working to bring about change and the communications technologies that have played a vital role in their efforts.
Several current initiatives that aim to address real needs are worth noting here.
In response to government internet blocking in Egypt in January, Google quickly partnered with Twitter and SayNow to develop the application ‘Speak-to-Tweet’​, enabling users to tweet using only their mobile phone and without an internet connection. Google, as a sponsor of the global World Press Freedom Day event in theUS, is ramping up its work on freedom of expression and its partnerships with NGOs doing similar work.
At the governmental level, the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson, has been talking a lot about a new digital reality entailing new demands on old policies.
In March she took the unusual move of inviting Swedes from all walks of life to submit their ideas on how information and communications technology solutions can be used in the service of freedom. She invited the best to meet with her and promised to feed their ideas into both Swedish and EU policy. It will be interesting to see how and whether the process is able to feed into Sida’s policy response to events in the region.
For its part, the BBC WST has been working inYemen and Syria for the past two years. Although in Yemen our radio programmes were taken off air shortly after protests started, in Syria, an online training academy involving aspiring journalists and bloggers has weathered the protests so far and will hopefully continue to do so.
At this point in proceedings, it’s particularly critical that the international community take a step back and consider its options in terms of support to media in the Middle East and Maghreb. What have we learned, what has worked (and not worked) and how can we ensure significant funds for democratisation and human rights in the region are spent sensibly and impactfully.
That’s why this year, World Press Freedom Day need not be an advocacy event, but should instead be leveraged as an opportunity to galvanise and continue these discussions.
The major global event is this year happening in Washington DC, organised by Unesco, the US State Department and over 20 civil society partners. Though planning pre-dated events in the Middle East, discussion will no doubt be focused to some extent on what these events have taught us, and how to respond. High profile activists and journalists from Egypt,Yemen and Tunisia are presenting, and many of the organisations who will undertake media support in those countries will be there to listen.
In previous years, World Press Freedom Day events started with the obligatory session reminding us all of the importance of freedom of expression. This year, in the midst of a series of revolutions in which media and communications are playing a central role, we should cut straight to the chase and sensibly work out what to do about it.
Kate Noble is Senior Projects Manager, Governance, at the BBC World Service Trust.
 
7 March, 2011
Women and media: beyond the numbers
Posted by carolinesugg under Uncategorized | Tags: gender, health, media |
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As we celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day stories about the underrepresentation of women in the news media are hitting the headlines in the UK. It’s right to question why 74% of news journalists on our national newspapers are men and to consider how this is affecting the news we consume. Indeed, gender imbalances within the media industry are an issue worldwide. The Eastern Africa Journalists’ Association reported in 2008 that less than 20% of editorial places in the region were filled by women.
Training and support for women working in the media, combined with support for organisation-wide change, can help address these imbalances while also empowering individual women.
Dekha Devi who worked with the BBC WST to produce radio programmes on health issues in India had to overcome personal challenges to take part in training: “Many people, including my husband, objected to me working outside the home and pointed fingers at my morals and character”, she says. However Dekha found a new confidence and standing within her community once she had settled into her new job – an experience shared with her new colleagues.
But going beyond efforts to address the underrepresentation of women in the media, much can and is being done around the world to harness the power of television and radio to empower women and promote gender equality.
The simple provision of information that women need to make informed choices can help change lives. In Nigeria, listeners to our Hausa language discussion show Mu Tattauna tell us that they have learnt more about the importance of antenatal care; women in Afghanistan say that practical information about education and income generation that they hear on our radio programmes is helping improve their lives.
Across the world listeners tell us that, armed with knowledge and empowered by hearing the stories of others, they feel more comfortable discussing sensitive subjects with their partners and families. And discussion can have powerful effects as Sefa Jemal, a seventeen year old from Ethiopia attests: “I live in a community in which female genital mutilation is widely practiced. My mother believed strongly that my two little sisters should be circumcised in order to live a socially acceptable life. We argued about this but I was unable to convince her until I made her listen to an Abugida story that I had recorded off the radio. My family were deeply touched by the story, which made them cry. I was overjoyed when my mother declared that she had decided not to have my sisters circumcised.”
Gender equality is dependent on women and girls having opportunities to have their voices heard and influence decision-making. The public hearings convened by the White Ribbon Alliance in India for instance provide a powerful mechanism for the barriers to better maternal health to be debated and addressed. Those of us working in the media must also take responsibility for providing such opportunities.
At the filming of Sahja Sawal, a televised debate programme addressing governance issues in Nepal, Shrijala Prajapati a 15-year old school-girl took the opportunity to ask senior leaders and politicans what they were planning to do to stop inequalities between boys and girls in the education system. After the show Shrijala said of the experience, “I felt like a real daughter of Nepal after asking the question.” Programmes like Sahja Sawal can lead change because “…ordinary people can’t usually meet the authorities and this makes them more accountable to the people”, she added.
The media also has a role to play in challenging stereotypes, ensuring that the full realities of men and women’s lives are reflected in programming and that content does not reinforce negative gender stereotypes.
In India, “May you be the mother of sons” is a common blessing, linked to the perceived higher status it will bring women in society. But after only a year on air, recent audience research has shown that listeners to Life Gulmohar Style – a radio drama dealing with a host of issues facing women in modern India – are less likely to think that bearing sons rather than daughters enhances a mothers’ status. Listeners were also more likely to feel that sons should be encouraged to do housework from a young age.
It seems that, even in crowded media environments, engaging and gender-aware programming can help drive a willingness to redefine the traditional roles ascribed to men and women.
These stories remind us that, while we continue to work to address gender imbalances within our industry, we must also recognise and remain committed to the broader power of the media to promote equality and support the empowerment of women and girls.
Caroline Sugg is Senior Project Manager, Gender and Health, at the BBC World Service Trust
 
16 November, 2010
Interviewing Politicians Made Easier
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: journalism​, media training |
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By Nick Raistrick, BBC WST Journalism Training Editor
When I used to interview football managers on a regular basis there was always a fine line between:
1) Asking the dull questions the manager wanted you to ask but boring your readers.
2) Asking the controversial questions your listeners wanted to hear, but which would get you barred from the ground by the irate coach.
In some developing and transitional countries there’s a similar problem when reporting politics and interviewing politicians – except it’s much, much worse.
Of course there’s the threat of being excluded from future press conferences and interviews, and therefore losing your job. And there’s sometimes the threat of closure, physical violence or imprisonment.
Even where a journalist feels safe, it could be that the local important politician [or ‘big man’] dominates proceedings; leaders are often important, articulate and sometimes threatening people.
It all makes interviewing authority figures very difficult.
So how can you make sure politicians don’t dominate your interview or discussion/call-in show?
Hopefully this quick guide will be useful. It’s based on experiences in East Africa but, hopefully, will be relevant elsewhere. If it isn’t, or you disagree with any of my ideas, please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.
(more…)
 
19 July, 2010
Condom is just another word
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: AIDS2010​, Condom Condom​, health, HIV/AIDS |
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The BBC World Service Trust team from India are showcasing our condom normalisation campaign “Condom, Condom” at the International Aids Conference in Vienna this week. Check back here for blog updates from the team, plus footage from their interactive stand, as they remind people that “Condom is just another word”.
Visit the brand new condomcondom.org site for more on how the BBC WST’s work in India is helping to change attitudes towards condoms, plus view the full story of the last three years on our YouTube channel here.
 
21 April, 2010
Jesse Jagz, an ENR star
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Enhancing Nigeria's Response to HIV and Aids | Tags: bbc world service trust, Enhancing Nigeria's Response to HIV and Aids, hausa, hip-hop, hiv, jesse jagz, nigeria |
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While the youth radio programmes are integral components of the ENR project, I have never had a chance to see the teams in action. I have participated in their script sessions as well as their listen-backs (the final feedback sessions), but only a few weeks ago did I get a chance to see how they actually create their content.
Recently a Nigerian artist named Jesse Jagz had an album release party. It took place in the Sheraton and nearly all my colleagues in Nigeria were fans of his – some took photos, some helped with the guests, and the two youth shows both recorded the event.
When I learned that both the youth teams (one in Hausa, the language of north Nigeria, and the other in Pidgin English) would both be recording, I immediately had two grave doubts: one, how does a hip-hop artist talking about how hot he is have anything to do with HIV and AIDS? Two, won’t the two youth production teams replicate each other’s shows?
What proceeded to happen blew my mind.
(more…)
 
8 April, 2010
Finding the gap
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Enhancing Nigeria's Response to HIV and Aids | Tags: aids, hiv, nigeira, STI |
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During a recent ENR conference to build the capacity of local community service organizations, I found myself sitting on a bench in a shed that was a resting spot for transport drivers. We were in Benue state and it was hot – close to 38℃. Besides the scorching heat, Benue is also widely recognized as the state with the highest HIV prevalence rate, close to 7%, according to Nigeria’s National HIV & AIDS Reproductive Health Survey.
Project leaders from states around the country were about to conduct a survey to evaluate the knowledge of this “high risk” group. This practice focus group would test the project leaders’ ability to create conversation, draw answers from participants, and facilitate a discussion. Since research showed most of the new HIV cases from Benue result from transport workers, and since the state had a series of major transport hubs, we were all keen to hear the answers from this group
I was stunned by how much they knew. They could not only list different STIs, but also the symptoms and where to get them treated.
(more…)
 
2 March, 2010
A Day in the Life of the BBC World Service Trust
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: africa talks climate, baba maal, bbc world service trust, climate change, cop16, copenhagen​, mexico, world have your say |
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And, what you’ve all been waiting for: a behind the scenes video showing what we got up to at the climate change summit in Copenhagen last December, where we hosted events with the megastar Baaba Maal, a world debate with a handful of presidents (including the leader of Mexico who’ll be hosting COP16) and an incredibly charged World Have Your Say with a concert hall full of teenagers .
Check it:
(For an edited transcript of Baaba’s talk and also to hear that edition of World Have Your Say, have a look at Africa Talks Climate​.)
 
2 March, 2010
Petition against Uganda’s anti-gay bill – audio
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Gideon Byamugisha​, human rights, media, uganda |
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Our colleagues over at the BBC Africa Service did an interview yesterday with the Anglican priest, Canon Gideon Byamugisha, who’s leading the campaign opposing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. His online petition has over 450,000 signatures from people around the world and yesterday it went to parliament.
However BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross, says the fact that the vast majority of the signatures were from outside Uganda is significant, as the MPs would be more likely to take notice of Ugandan rather than international opposition to the bill.
For more on this issue, have a look at Rachael Borlase’s excellent article on the issues of reporting gay rights in Uganda’s rural media.
 
1 March, 2010
Chile’s earthquake and tsunami crisis – crucial role of media and governance
Posted by BBC World Service Trust under Uncategorized | Tags: bachelet​, chile, crisis, development​, disaster preparedness​, earthquake​, governance​, haiti, media, media sector, santiago​, tsunami |
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As Haiti slowly rebuilds after its catastrophic earthquake, over 3,000 miles across the Americas, another powerful earthquake and tsunami has struck Chile, displacing over two million people. So far Michelle Bachelet’s government is confident that the country’s strong internal infrastructures can cope with the crisis and manage the relief efforts.
Chile has spent many years building its media sector and disaster preparedness policies - what are the learnings from Santiago to Port-au-Prince?
Lisa Robinson, who helped to deliver Connexion Haiti, the BBC’s emergency lifeline radio programme, reports.
Soon after the earthquake struck in Chile, we considered whether lifeline broadcasting similar to that for Haiti would be necessary.  Watching and listening to local media, however, it was apparent they were doing a very good job of aiming to deliver vital information to affected populations.
Media’s ability to respond to the crises has differed drastically between Chile and Haiti.
Since Chile’s buildings were better prepared for earthquakes, structural damage was less and more stations were able to continue on air.
The extensive number of radio and TV stations in Chile means that there are significantly more resources to continue broadcasting.  In areas where the media infrastructure has been affected, neighbouring media can step in to help.
Natacha Pisarenko/AP photo
Content has delivered practical information that audiences can use to deal with the crisis.  From the early hours, TV reports were requesting drivers to stay off roads, giving updates on hospitals that were closed, assuring people that aftershocks were normal, and urging people to remain calm.
Chile’s national disaster preparedness mechanisms have facilitated the crucial delivery of information to the affected populations.  For example, when the emergency telephone line wasn’t working, replacement numbers were issued within hours and broadcast on TV.  President Bachelet has been on camera giving status updates regularly.
It’s too early to know the full extent of the damage and how audiences’ access to media has been interrupted in the most severely hit areas.  International media organisations may be on standby to deliver support where needed.  Meanwhile, they’ll be observing the information response and gathering learnings from Chile’s strong media sector.
 
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