Monthly Archives: November 2010

Online personalities in China

Tom Crampton posted a great graphic from the Ogilvy Beijing Social Media team describing the social media users in China.

China’s Social Network Personalities

It would be great if someone were do to this for the USA and other countries as well.

If soccer (football) is the great unifier for the world (except for the States), then maybe distilled versions of online personalities might help different cultures link up.

But even if you just forget the cross cultural stuff. Face it, this project would be fun.

Hello, WIRED. Are you listening.

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Filed under China, Connections, Story Ideas

BBC Interview with Trudeau

I’ve always liked Doonesbury. I even once clipped each strip to save posterity. Eventually I got rid of all of them and bought the books.

Well, Doonebury is 40 this year.

Here is an interview on the BBC with Garry Trudeau talking about the strip and the past four decades.

The Interview: Garry Trudeau

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Filed under International News Coverage

Interesting info or just tittle-tattle

The Economist has an interesting take on the Wikileaks State Dept. cables.

WikiLeaks degenerates into gossip

It’s part of the nature of human communication that one doesn’t always say the same thing to every audience. There are perfectly good reasons why you don’t always tell the same story to your boss as you do to your spouse.


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Filed under Freedom of Information, International News Coverage

Freelance journalists face danger from all sides in south Asia

Journalists in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have freedoms few in the region can enjoy. And at the same time, the threats to their lives is ever-present.

Mustafa Qadri reports in the Sunday Guardian (In south Asia, independent journalism is a real risk) that journalists are heavily restricted from independently reporting India’s continued crackdown on Kashmiri independence protests. And that journalists in Pakistan face greater threats. Earlier this month journalist and activist Abdul Hameed Hayatan was found dead in Balochistan after being kidnapped in October.

In September Umar Cheema was kidnapped by what appeared to be a police patrol while driving home in Islamabad.

“They stripped me naked and tortured me,” he recalled. Tied upside down, Cheema was badly beaten and had his eyebrows, moustache and hair shaved in a six-hour ordeal after which he was thrown on to a highway some 125 kilometres from his home in Islamabad.

Cheema realised his captors were in part of Pakistan’s secretive intelligence agencies. His transgression — in their eyes — was not the usual issue of military atrocities but rather its incompetence in prosecuting persons accused of killing army personnel.

Cheema had earlier faced the wrath of the army when he wrote about two commandos who were court-martialed because they suggested negotiating during a hostage situation in 2007.

Few think anything will get done even as the situation for journalists’ safety worsens.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists no one has been prosecuted for murdering a journalist in Pakistan except in the Daniel Pearl case. Civilian authorities set up a judicial commission to investigate Cheema’s abduction, but it appears to be languishing and there have been no significant investigations of army authorities.

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Filed under Asia, Harassment, Killings

BBC discusses when and why to hold back on a story

First posted at DC SPJ.

The BBC wanted to report on the situation of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple who spent more than a year kidnapped in Somalia. It was a major story but legal steps taken by the Chandler family prevented the media from saying anything until the Chandlers were released.

The BBC program Over to You discussed why the Beeb — and other news outlets in Britain — were not able to report the story: The Chandlers: Censorship in a good cause?

The couple’s family had gone to court in the UK and asked a judge to grant them what’s called a ‘super-injunction ‘ – a legal measure that’s caused controversy as it has often been used by celebrities to stop newspapers publishing stories about their private lives.

As it’s also illegal even to refer to the existence of a super-injunction, the BBC could not explain to listeners and viewers why they were quiet on the story when others, who did not obey the ban – were not. Was this something that concerned the Editor of BBC World News, Jon Williams?

He explained that while the BBC is not in the business of censoring the news, no story is worth a life – and so the BBC accepted the argument of the family, their lawyers and the judge that to do otherwise would jeopardise the safety of Paul and Rachel Chandler.

So, as the Over to You editor asks: “What do you think?”

Should the BBC and other news outlets have violated the court injunction and report what they had?


Filed under Connections, International News Coverage

Saberi speaks with Brazil’s future

My younger son Adam is auditing classes at the University of Brasilia. (And doing it in Portuguese.) Last week he had the chance to hear journalist Roxana Saberi speak to an audience at the school. I asked him to write a summary and his reactions to the speech.

Instead of attending my usual “Introduction to the Study of International Relations” class at the University of Brasilia last Wednesday, our professor dismissed us so that we could attend a lecture by American journalist, Roxana Saberi, a woman I first heard on NPR more than a year ago.

Ms. Saberi traveled to Iran to work on a book, which explored the diverse and complex aspects of the Iranian culture (her father was Iranian – Ms. Saberi is a first-generation American) when she was arrested for espionage. Ms. Saberi was not a spy for the United States, but still Iranian authorities sentenced her to 8 years in one of Iran’s most notorious political prisons.

Ms. Saberi shared her story with a lecture hall of at least 150 Brazilian students (mostly International Relations majors). I could tell she was expecting a few more journalism majors in the crowd (there were only two – she asked them to identify themselves) but still she told her story in a way to keep all interested.

Ms. Saberi said her story makes the clear point that it’s important to care about human rights abuses from halfway around the world with people you don’t know.

I was inspired by her story, but I was also impressed how, in her concluding remarks, she tied in Brazilian foreign policy, explaining how new relations between Brazil and Iran is an opportunity to put Human Rights front and center.

The crowd reacted as most Brazilian crowds do – a constant shuffling of people around the room, the occasional “shh” when people would talk with their neighbors too loudly. I normally applaud Brazilians for being so nonchalant but this time I found it downright insensitive to behave this way while a guest is telling you about the time she was tortured. I don’t wish to generalize, obviously not everyone in the crowd was like this, but from Ms. Saberi’s eye’s I’m sure all we were was another crowd. Despite the behavior of the crowd, it was evident from my fellow student’s questions that her message had been heard and that they were thankful for her story.

Ms. Saberi has a blog on her official website where you can find translated Brazilian news clippings. According to one press clipping, Ms. Saberi’s talk in Rio de Janeiro the day after presenting in Brasilia made sure to mention the escalating violence and the human right’s implications that come with it.

I should note here that Saberi’s call for the Brazilian government to do more on human rights, especially with Iran, is something the Brazilian government clearly does not want to do.

Yes, Brazil has good relations with Iran. It also has good relations with Venezuela and Cuba. And yet whenever the opportunity arrives for Brazil to stand up for its democratic principles, it fails to do so.

This lack of action on the government’s side has not gone unnoticed within Brazil. Even many trade union and liberal supporters of the Lula government were highly critical of him when he did not say anything about the political prisoners in Cuba during a state visit to the island country.

And for all its posturing with Iran, Brazil usually abstains in votes before human rights councils rather than criticize Iran.

If Brazil had a track record of never criticizing any of the countries with whom it has decent relations, the lack of statements about human rights abuses in Iran, Venezuela and Cuba would be expected. But Lula and his team have spent a lot of time and lung power criticizing the United States and Europe for far less violations of human rights.

Let us see what the next president has to say.

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Filed under International News Coverage, South America

Zimbabwe looking to use copyright laws to keep laws from the people

Talk about copyright protection gone crazy.

Boing Boing reports that Zimbabwe justice minister is steering a bill through Parliament that seeks to amend the copyright laws by giving copyright protection to legislation, notices and other material in the Government Gazette, court judgments and certain public registers.

Yep, that means the government wants to copyright in all these documents. The law will give the government all the rights and powers of a copyright holder.

And that power means the law and the doings of government will be copyrighted and not freely distributable to the governed.

It should come as no surprise. Zimbabwe is ranked #123 of 178 in the world on press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Let’s not forget that Oregon tried this a while back: Oregon: our laws are copyrighted and you can’t publish them

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Filed under Africa, Censorship