sábado, 9 de abril de 2011

Egypt, Afghanistan and Beyond: Crisis and Independent Journalism

From the National Conference for Media Reform, in representation of AERCO (Spanish Association for Social Media Managers).

The room was crowded during the Eygpt, Afghanistan and beyond: Crisis and Independent Journalism panel at the National Conference for Media Reform taking place in Boston April 8-11.

Jeff Cohen, from Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College, presented the panel
referring to corporate media as "more and more stupid" and independent media as the growing alternative, especially important in times of crisis.

Cohen asked the audience how many of them had
followed recent events in Middle East through Democracy Now and Al-Jazeera and the answer was unanimous.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous
covered events in Tahrir for Democracy Now! during the recent mobilizations in Eygpt and was one of the few to get tweets out of Egypt during the days were the Internet was completeley shut down in the country. He sent text messages from his mobile phone to a friend, who got his twitter password and published them from abroad. His twitter account, @sharifkouddous, went from 2,000 to 27,000 followers. Abdel Kouddous also highlighted that the revolution is unfinished and Tahrir demonstrators demands should be met. "Demonstrators were yesterday calling for prosecution of Hosni Mobarak, who is now relaxing at the beach on "Sharm El-Sheikh" and Egyptian forces stormed the square yesterday and fired live ammunition, killing two people and injuring hundreds. "The struggle is ongoing, and as mainstream media do parachuting coverage, independent media follow up events, giving voice to the voiceless." He referred to concepts like "Facebook revolution" as very Western tags that help focus on technology instead of on the persons behind it, but also highlighted the role of social media as key, mentioning examples like how the death of Khaled Said helped trigger outrage in the country and Wael Ghonim, Google engineer who helped organize the protests.

Marcy Wheeler, US blogger for online news site FireDogLake, highlighted global responsibility over the fact that Mubarak ruled in Egypt for decades and over lack of coverage of US friendly countries like Bahrein, where unprecedented repression is taking place. "We have been watching for years how Egypt, Libya and other Middle East countries were looted by their governments". She also referred to P.J. Crowley, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs who got outsted from the State Department for criticizing Pentagon mistreatment of military prisoner Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier suspected of providing with classified diplomatic cables.

Derrick Corwe, Brave New Foundation, mentioned names of Afghanistan massacres that most people in the audience had not heard about, to prove the point that coverage of Afghanistan war by US media is highly biased: "a sanitized version of the war".

Ahmed Shihab El-Din, journalist and multimedia producer, presented Al-Jazeera English's new show, The Stream. He explained the role of social media in making events on the ground visible in a way that has proved more effective than traditional media. For Shihab El-Din, the main lesson is that "democratization is directly related to democratization of media". He encouraged the audience to demand Al-Jazeera in the US: "We believe change is best when it comes from within".

The conference can be followed on Twitter: #ncmr11

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