Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Report : Navigating the new media landscape - Brave News World

Preface : For the past three years, discussions about the future of the news media have centered on the decline of the so-called golden age of journalism and the descent into a chaos characterised by splintered audiences, decimated balance sheets, and the muscling-in of amateurs. Fearing that their halcyon days as the guardians of information are numbered,many editors and journalists have engaged in collective navel-gazing, askingthemselves: What went wrong?
But is the future really so bleak? Is the decline a global phenomenon? Are we moving into a new 'golden age'? And what does it mean for press freedom?
To find answers to these pressing questions, the International Press Institute (IPI) teamed up with the Poynter Institute, one of the premier journalism training centers in the world,
to set out on a global investigation assembling an international group of editors, journalists, visionaries and sceptics to discover how the future of the news is developing
around the world.
The result is that after a 10-year absence, the IPI Report series has returned, revamped and reinvigorated with a new edition entitled "Brave News Worlds", a report that charts
the exciting times ahead for the news media and uncovers the many different global perspectives thereof.
Picking up where the IPI Report series left off in 2000, "Brave News Worlds" explores what the next 10 years hold for the news and journalism industry and offers insight into
how journalists and non-journalists alike can take advantage of changes in the media and technology to make the future of news a bright one.
Edited by Bill Mitchell, Head of the Poynter Institute's Entrepreneurial Journalism and International Programs, the report brings together the greatly diverse perspectives of
42 editors, journalists and media experts from over 20 countries to tackle issues such as regulation and control, emerging forms of journalism and the power of the public,
along with the need to reframe traditional news models to better engage with audiences. With a focus on effective solutions and lessons learned, but also providing stimulus for
debate, this report is not a definitive map, but instead a compass, pointing us, the global media, in the right direction: To a sustainable and successful future for journalism.
Lauren Dolezal- Commissioning and Production Editor

To read the full report go to

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Media company Bertelsmann founds online journalism school

Bertelsmann, Europe's largest media company, is founding an online journalism school to educate reporters internationally who face censorship and persecution. The company plans to offer 20 reporters online courses and seminars in Germany beginning in late 2011.

The International Academy of Journalism is not aimed at entry-level journalists, rather at those already working in the industry, Bertelsmann said. The project is to be overseen by European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso with support from editors-in-chief of German media – Thomas Osterkorn of newsmagazine Stern, Georg Mascolo of Spiegel magazine, Giovanni di Lorenzo of Die Zeit and Peter Kloeppel of RTL television.The announcement corresponds with Bertelsmann's 175th anniversary celebrations.,_Science__Technology&pid=3036

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mozambique 'blocked texts' during food riots

The BBC has seen a letter apparently sent by Mozambique's authorities ordering mobile phone companies to block some text messages during recent food riots.

The protests were fuelled by text messages urging people to join in.

The letter, received by the newsletter Mediafax, is from the National Communications Institute or INCM.

The INCM has not commented, while the communications minister has denied any knowledge of such an order.

The country's two mobile phone companies - M-Cel and Vodacom - have also not reacted to the reports.

The BBC's Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, says the letter bears the INCM's logo, as well as an official signature and stamp.

He says Mediafax is a respected publication, originally set up by investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso, who was murdered in 2000.

The apparent ban only applied to pre-paid subscribers, not those on monthly contracts.

Those using pre-paid vouchers are generally poorer and so more likely to take part in protest over the cost of food, our reporter says.

At least 13 people died and 400 were arrested during the protests over a hike in the price of bread, as well as other basic goods.

The riots led the government to perform a U-turn and promise to subsidise the price of wheat.

The subsidy in effect reverses a 20% hike caused by rising global wheat prices and a drop in the value of the Mozambican currency against the South African rand.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rackspace Takes Koran-Burning Church Site Offline

Web hosting company Rackspace said Thursday that it had refused to host the Web site associated with the Dove World Outreach Center, run by a pastor who had said that he planned to stage an event to burn the Koran this Saturday.

The BBC reported that Terry Jones later canceled the event, claiming that it was "not the time" to burn the Islamic holy text. The Gainesville, Flor. site has less than 50 members, according to the BBC.

That didn't stop Rackspace, which said that the actions of Jones and the Dove World center had violated the company's acceptable use policy (AUP), which forbids hate speech.

That policy forbids content that "is excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech," Rackspace said.

"What we're focused on here is something that is narrow, abusive, hateful speech that does not advance any argument," said Dan Goodgame, a spokesman for Rackspace.

Goodgame said that the service continually receives complaints about customers violating the AUP. All are checked out, although some are dismissed as bogus. The complaints about Dove World were not. "This was pretty bad stuff," Goodgame said, and the decision to terminate the Dove World relationship was vetted by the Rackspace corporate counsel and other senior management.

Goodgame said that Rackspace held a brief conversation with Dove World on Wednesday afternoon, and that the Dove World staff made it clear that they could either remove the offending content, or move the site to another provider. Dove World refused, and Rackspace gave the church several hours to migrate the content.

"At this point, we've severed our relationship with them as a customer," Goodgame said. The church has not asked to come back, he added.

Claims that Rackspace has denied Dove World the right of free speech is an "absurd argument," Goodgame said. "We as a company believe strongly that an individual has the right to stand on a public street corner and to shout racial epithets if they wish," Goodgame said. "But if they were to walk into the Mark Hachman Hardware Store and shout racial epithets at the customers and employees, they would have the right to ban them."

The Dove World site returned a directory error on Thursday afternoon. A second site, named after Jones' book, was also offline.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Texts a New Tool in Guinea’s Historic Election

Mobile phones turned citizens into election observers in Guinea's landmark presidential election. The technology will also be used to help voters in the upcoming September run-off poll.

By Kwami Ahiabenu II

On June 27, 2010, Guinea held what is widely being hailed as the nation's first freely run democratic election since gaining independence in 1958. A run-off between the two presidential candidates earning the most votes will take place on September 19, 2010. Another first in this landmark election process is the use of mobile phone technology.

Mobile phones have become a preferred means of communication in Africa because they are convenient and affordable relative to other methods. Most countries on the continent are now recording the use of mobile phones by all key stakeholders in their elections: from electoral officials, political parties and individual candidates, to electoral security agencies, civil society organizations, and local and international observers.

Candidates use mobile phones to raise funds and campaign. Voters can use mobile phones to verify their registration information and correct it if necessary before going to the polls. Mobile phones are also used to inform citizens about voter registration, and to inform registered voters about when, where and how to vote. And, in Guinea, phones have been used as a tool for election observation.

"If you have a problem during voting, send a text message to 8080." During the first round of elections in June, this was the message that Guineans around the country received at public forums, on the radio and in newspapers. The message advertised an election-monitoring service based on SMS text messages. The SMS service used a short code number, "8080," which enabled all mobile users in Guinea, regardless of their mobile operator, to send election-related queries, comments and report problems. The service was implemented by a coalition of government, private and business partners. These included the nonprofit group Alliance Guinea, the African Elections Project, Guinea's National Independent Election Commission (CENI), mobile operators (Areeba, Cellcom, Intercel Guinee, Orange or Sotelgui) and African Business Services.

Commenting on the SMS election-monitoring service, U.S. Ambassador Patricia Moller said at a briefing before the June election: "The United States is committed to ensuring that these are the freest and most transparent elections in Guinea's history. This innovative initiative will help to make this vision a reality…By providing voters with the means to protect their vote, we have helped to place the future of their country in the palm of their hands. This technology will allow CENI, local and international observers, and security forces to respond to incidents in real time."

After voters went to the polls, Alix Davilmar of the Guinea-based African Business Services, the providers of the short code service, declared the service a success. Davilmar said: "We received about 4,000 SMS [messages] before the day of election and on the day of elections there were approximately 8,000 SMS entries. After the Election Day, over 2,000 SMS entries also came in. These messages were all posted online and distributed as e-mail alerts to election administrators and observers, international media, civil society organizations or the general public."

The election did experience some glitches, according to the Carter Center, a U.S. NGO with expertise in observing elections which was on the ground in Guinea. In a statement, the Carter Center described some of the problems observed, "Confusion about several important aspects of voting and counting procedures, delay in allocation of polling stations, and late delivery of essential voting materials negatively affected the quality of polling."

Despite these difficulties, the period following the election has been calm and the results respected by all parties. The Carter Center itself declared the elections a success and noted, "the elections were marked by broad political participation, a spirit of open campaigning, and transparency."

Now all eyes are on the September poll, as Guineans prepare for the country's return to civilian rule.