It was daunting to be a keynote speaker amidst so many big names at the Oslo North-South Forum, held at Oslo Town Hall on August 28, 2004. Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the crown prince of Norway, the mayor of Oslo, Hilde F Johnson, the Norwegian minister of international development, and other dignitaries graced the occasion. No one meant more to me than Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was not because he was a Nobel Laureate, or a celebrated archbishop, not even because of his role in the anti-apartheid movement, though that was very important to me. It was because he was such a wonderful human being.Continue reading “Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Walking the walk”
1-minute video: 5-year-old Palestinian schools Israeli soldiers on War Crimes
All your armies, all your fighters,
All your tanks, and all your soldiers,
Against a boy holding a stone.
Standing there all alone,
In his eyes I see the sun.
In his smile I see the moon.
And I wonder, I only wonder.
Who is weak, and who is strong?
Who is right, and who is wrong?
And I wish, I only wish,
That the truth has a tongue!
Syed Talha Ahsan is a British poet and translator. He has been imprisoned for seven years without a trial. The family is spending another Eid without him.
FOR the past month, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis have filled Shahbagh Square here, demanding justice for crimes committed in 1971, when Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) attained its independence from Pakistan.
Talha Ahsan is a British-born poet and writer with Asperger syndrome facing extradition to America.?If convicted he will spend 70 years in ?supermax? solitary confinement in ADX Florence.
Opening Reception & Forum:?Sunday, April 15, 6:00 pm ? 9:30 pm, 2012
Queens Museum of Art, NYC Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY 11368? DIRECTIONS
Forum & Opening Reception for Partnership Gallery Exhibition in Collaboration with Drik Picture Library, Dhaka.
Bangladeshi photographer and human rights activist Shahidul Alam?s Crossfire exhibition will open in the Partnership Gallery at the Queens Museum of Art on 15th April, 2012 and run until May 6th, 2012. The exhibition aims to gather international support for a campaign to end extra-judicial killings in Bangladesh by state forces, usually called ?crossfire.? Continue reading “Crossfire ? Photographs by Shahidul Alam”
Announcing PROOF?s Award for the Emerging Photojournalist
About the Award
PROOF knows that emerging photojournalists want to do meaningful projects related to human rights and social justice issues but oftentimes don?t have the funds or connections to do so. For this reason, we?re offering an award to help an emerging photojournalist jumpstart their project by providing funding and support from the media community.
For this award, we have put together a panel of judges including: Leora Kahn, Executive Director of PROOF, Ed Kashi of VII, Amy Yenkin from the Open Society Foundations, and Ann Friedman, Executive Editor of GOOD.
The selected photojournalist will receive USD $2500 to put toward their project. The final three candidates will have their work showcased through GOOD. Second and third place finalists will also have the opportunity for a portfolio review with Jamie Wellford of Newsweek. Continue reading “PROOF?s Award for the Emerging Photojournalist”
Bangladesh Human Rights Portal revived
After the highly successful workshop : “Learning rights to make a difference” conducted by Drik and Internews, the Bangladesh Human Rights Portal has been revived. With the ongoing training programme with World Press Photo “Press Freedom 2.o” over the next five years, www.banglarights.net is set to play an important role in promoting the rights of citizens in Bangladesh.
We have a very exciting team consisting of Chulie De Silva, Sohel Manzur and Aminuzzaman running the programme with D.J. Clark playing a mentoring role.
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The garment industry is one of the?largest industrial sectors in Bangladesh. It accounts for a good portion of the country?s exports and employs more than three million workers. Most of them are women.
?Workers toil from dawn to dusk on minimum wage,? said?Taslima Akhter, a Bangladeshi photographer who has spent more than four years capturing the workers? movement for ?The Life and Struggle of Garment Workers.?
Ms. Akhter, 37, was compelled to bring to light some of the industry?s darker aspects, like dangerous working conditions and low salaries. As an activist, a photographer and a resident of Bangladesh, she sees the ongoing project as both a personal agenda and a civic duty.
Ms. Akhter said she believed that the struggle of garment workers ? particularly women ? was one of the country?s most pressing issues. A transition to democracy in Bangladesh would raise questions about women?s rights, she said, expressing hope that her project could help speed the country toward that goal? ? and inspire the workers to make their own voices be heard.
In 2006, garment workers in Bangladesh made less than $25 per month, Ms. Akhter said. Following a tremendous protest in 2010, their wages increased to just under $45 monthly ? still not a living wage.
That strike ? and the number of women who participated ? drove Ms. Akhter to continue her work on the project, most of which she photographed in and around her hometown, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. (Outside Dhaka, she shot in Gazipur, to the north, and Narayanganj, to the east.) Ms. Akhter studied photojournalism at the?Pathshala South Asian Media Academy in Dhaka in 2007. She completed a master?s degree in philosophy from theUniversity of Dhaka. She just completed a six-week course on photography and human rights at New York University?s?Tisch School of the Arts as part of a?Magnum Foundation scholarship she was awarded in 2010.
Fig leaf of ?Press Freedom? lifted from Murdoch press
Sunday, 17 July, 2011 | THE BRUNEI TIMES A17
The Brunei Times
What does that say about printed news in the Digi-logue era?
ASKED what his priority was upon arrival in London to take charge of the unraveling of his UK newspaper, News of the World (NoW), Rupert Murdoch pointed to his red haired CEO of News International, saying ??Her??.? That gave the game away.
Rebekah Wade (before she became Mrs Brooks) was editor of the NoW when much of the celebrity phone hacking and cheque – book journalism scandal was rampant.? She was promoted to CEO by Rupert. She was in charge of the internal investigation that declared it to be the work of one rogue reporter. Some charitable commentators speculate that Rebekah Wade was covering up the scandals from the chairman who knew nothing.
Anyone familiar with how the Murdoch organisation works will know that nothing of significance is allowed to happen in any part of the global empire without direct approval of The Boss. None of his minions dare risk any initiative without express permission. After securing that, they gloat over lesser minions in turn, ordering them to charge up whichever hill.
Rebekah Wade knows too much of how high up the phone-hacking, pay-offs to police and hush money to victims was sanctioned. At the Parliamentary hearing will she confess? She has stood steadfast so far, denying any knowledge of these shenanigans. But if she were subsequently to be charged for complicity in criminal activity, will she spill the beans on her boss?? Murdoch? is? a? master of realpolitik and the mesmerising power of money. He knows only too clearly where his priority lies in this case. Will Rebekah Wade endure a term in prison with her trap shut, like Andy Coulson before her?? Let us watch this morality play unfold.? Loyalty more than competence, is prized highly infamily businesses. It plays to the insecurity of the owners. At News Corporation that is worth gold.
How did NoW & The Sun hold such influence in the digi-logue era?
Ingrained in the British polity is a free press pride of mythic proportions. Murdoch converted that to a licence to print money by feeding the prurient and voyeuristic instincts of society.? British institutional reluctance to interfere with the mechanics of a rigorous press worked to his advantage. ?Using this fig-leaf of press freedom, his gutter press outreached.
??Give the people what they want?? was his amoral justification for a diet of boobs on Page 3 of The Sun and lurid sexual peccadillos of politicians and celebrities across NoW pages. Mr Murdoch?s low opinion of his readers is amply summed-up by a former managing director: ??Most people are like sheep. Let?s shear them.??
Often innuendo was enough to ruin careers and reputations. It sold his newspapers vigorously ahead of his more inhibited rivals.? Neither Murdoch nor his editors cared about the lives they broke.? They never let facts get in the way of a good story. An editorial fund to pay off victims who initiate libel suits was just a cost of doing business.? To keep up a daily menu of startling disclosures year after year for this cynical publishing formula, required stretching beyond court hearings and crime beats (available to all newspapers). It required hacking into private telephone conversations, voicemails, sms plus paying sleuths to steal confidential banking and hospital records.
This yielded rich dividends for the Murdoch papers. They were never short of saucy leads, embarrassing photographs or helpless victims. They ??scooped?? the competition routinely.
The other tabloid rivals have shown remarkable restraint in not putting the boot into the Murdoch press. There is widespread suspicion that they are also guilty of phone-tapping and payments to police. Parliamentarians are calling for a comprehensive investigation into the links between the police, tabloids and the shadowy world of private detectives.
The toothless Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has again been unmasked as an utterly ineffective entity created not to self-regulate but to block independent investigation of errant members. Following the current NoW controversy, Parliament has pledged to scrap the PCC and replace it with a body independent of both the newspaper industry and government.
Digital disruption of news monopolies
The dominance of NoW and The Sun in the UK is all the more remarkable when elsewhere the Internet, Blogs, Facebook and Twitter have evolved a dynamic ecosystem of crowd-sourced, realtime, instantaneous horizontal distribution of news, views, opinion and debate.
It was Dr Indrajit Banerjee, a Director at Unesco in Paris who coined the term ??Digi-logue?? to describe converging analogue and digital technologies and content flows. His point was that the established academic ways to map,?study and analyse Press, TV, Radio & Online channels as parallel communication?need to be radically reframed to make sense of the new realities. The boundaries are blurred and new possibilities are enabled.
Dr Andrew Taussig and I were privileged to be invited to address the Plenary session he chaired at the recent AMIC Conference in Hyderabad – on precisely this phenomenon.
For near 200 years newspapers perfected a super-efficient cycle of news production and mass distribution in a controlled, linear process with the editor at the centre.
The editor decided what will be printed and how the story will be told. More importantly, he decided what will NOT be printed and which stories will NOT be told.? The true power of the press was its ability to hide critical matters from public knowledge. Authoritarian governments and Big Business leveraged compliant editors to mislead the public.
The digi-logue environment has broken that stranglehold on news and opinion which mainstream press and TV enjoyed. Tweets from Sohaib Athar in Abbottabad:?A huge window-shaking bang here in AbottabadI hope it?s not the start of something nasty? was the first indication of the remarkable American raid on Osama bin Laden?s hideout which left the Pakistani military clueless even after the helicopters left with his body. No reporter was there to file the story.
Nic Newman of The Reuters Institute at Oxford University says that Twitterers are ??influencers??.? ??The audience isn?t on Twitter but the news is on Twitter.?? Celebrities and politicians now regularly tweet their daily meetings and travels with a growing fan network. Sashi Tharoor, former UN Under – Secretary General and later junior minister in India?s Foreign Ministry, got into trouble for his tweets on meetings with foreign dignitaries and for lamenting travelling ?cattle-class? to conform to the Congress Party?s strictures on public travel for MPs.
Alternative media compensate for discredited mainstream media
Closer to home, Singapore?s recent elections and the ongoing Malaysian politics demonstrate the far reaching effects of social media, mobile communications and the Internet as citizens initiate, share, query and distribute information virally to groups and individuals without the agency of mainstream press or TV.
This is having interesting effects on the behaviour of journalists, editors and politicians. Mainstream press which once dismissed Bloggers out of hand, now follows the established ones closely to track the cyberchatter of posts and counter-posts. They quote Bloggers in press reports. ?The Malaysian government has invited Bloggers to press conferences. Dr Tony Tan bidding for Presidential elections in Singapore, announced his decision on a Blogging platform to reach young voters.
Governments and their intelligence agencies are vigilantly tracking cyberchatter for clues to political sentiment and the public will. The Chinese government is particularly adept at this silent eavesdropping. It has resulted in delayed statements from the Prime Minister to address public anger about rising food prices and unaffordable housing.
This crowd-sourced feedback bypasses the inefficient and unreliable network of spies and informers who filter intelligence for their political masters. In some ways this is an amplified, authentic mirror of public sentiment to governments which hopefully will reduce misbehaviour of the power structure.
What are the lessons for the business of News?
It is all out there. The news process is becoming a ??curation?? of content from formal, informal and co-opted amateur sources on mobile phones, You Tube, Facebook and Twitter. Trusted brands have an advantage in credibility on all platforms which consumers access at different times of the day, from home to office and back. The people, formerly known as the audience, now participate in the process of news creation, sharing and verification.
Digital distribution of rich media blurs the previous distinction between printed, online and broadcast channels. News producers have to become multimedia?orchestrators for consumers who want to read, see, hear and experience news. Tablet publishing is the first such integrated rich-media platform for busy citizens on the go.?The garden variety reporter will be useless. Domain experts who comment, analyse and contextualise news will be needed to add value to content. News will be channel agnostic.?Dependency on advertising will diminish as news businesses find new revenue streams from consumers, brands and transactions.
Cyril Pereira is the Co-Chairman of Asian Publishing Convention