Archive for the 'Media Activism' Category

Feb 27 2014

Community radio gets a boost in Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times

By Daoud Kuttab

Community media received a major boost in Jordan this week with the launch of the third Aswatona conference at the Dead Sea.

More than 100 community radio activists gathered at the lowest spot on Earth to talk about the challenges of producing, broadcasting and sustaining community owned media, especially radio.

Community radio activists from areas not under the control of the Syrian regime were the stars of the event organised by a local Jordanian NGO, Community Media Network, and the UK-based Community Media Solutions in association with Jordan’s Audio Visual Commission and the World Association of Community Broadcasters.

Broadcasting radio in the Middle East and North Africa is a huge challenge. The post-colonial region witnessed many revolts and military coups that always included taking over national radio.

New powers were careful not to allow others to own radio stations so as not to have them do what they did when they took power. Continue Reading »

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Feb 09 2014

Egyptian Revolution Will Fail if the Press Is Not Free

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By Daoud Kuttab

I was part of a delegation of the International Press Institute that visited the Egyptian capital last week to try and plead the case of some 12 Egyptian and foreign journalists who are being held behind bars.

The new powers in Egypt seem to have very little tolerance for anyone with an opinion that is not favourable to the June 30 events that led to the ouster of Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi.

Meetings with journalists, lawyers and human rights activists revealed a culture of physical violence and intimidation against journalists in general and especially against members of the press covering anti-government protests.

The Qatari-owned Al Jazeera satellite station appears to get the lion’s share of thisanti-journalist behaviour.

The culture of impunity has encouraged many citizens and local groups to lash out against journalists, especially camera operators.

The Arab Human Rights Network declared that under the new rulers in Egypt, eight journalists were killed, while only one was killed during Morsi’s one-year reign.

When we were in Cairo, we were informed by human rights lawyer Gamal Eid that 12 journalists, including a Turk and an Australian, were detained. Continue Reading »

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Nov 24 2013

Palestinian press freedom under threat

AlMonitor

 

By Daoud Kuttab

George Kanawati has become a well-known name in the Bethlehem area. The popularity of the director of the city’s longest-running radio station and anchor of its popular morning show is not simply from his journalistic work. Radio Bethlehem 2000’s top journalist has been embroiled in quite a few battles with various governmental agencies, the latest of which landed him in prison and gave him a black eye.

While the Israeli restriction on Palestinian movement for journalists continues without any sign of easing, the main challenge for Palestinian journalists has become more local. Palestinian officials appear to be less tolerant to criticism and seem to be acting with impunity despite strong opposition by the Palestinian Journalists Union and human rights organizations.

Kanawati’s case has been going on for some time and the tit for tat between him and various government officials is being dealt with in the courts. But the latest episode between Kanawati and the director of the Bethlehem police appears to have taken a different route. Continue Reading »

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Nov 03 2013

The mighty pen

Published by under Jordan,Media Activism

This appeared in Columbia Journalism Review magazine.

By Alice Su

When Hazm al-Mazouni shows his press pass at the entrance to the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian desert, the guards don’t let him in. A 42-year-old native of Hama, Syria, Al-Mazouni’s status in Jordan is clear: refugee. But the guards are wary of his Radio al-Balad badge. “This is proof that we did something,” Al-Mazouni says, smiling. “A good thing.”

Al-Mazouni has been a refugee for 11 months and a journalist for seven. He wears brown, horn-rimmed glasses and walks briskly, a laptop bag hanging from his shoulder and two cell phones in hand, one for personal calls, the other for work. Zaatari administrators are well aware of his reporting for Syrians Among Us, a radio news program and online bulletin produced by Syrian refugees.

The program began as pilot project in October 2012 by the Community Media Network(CMN), a Jordanian nonprofit that supports independent media in the Arab world. CMN’s funding comes largely from Western foundations, notably the Open Society Foundations, UNESCO, and the National Endowment for Democracy. A US State Department grant of $77,000 paid for the first phase of Syrians Among Us. Continue Reading »

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Sep 16 2013

Naming and Shaming in Jordan

Published by under Articles,Jordan,Media Activism

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By Daoud Kuttab

Musab Shawabkeh, the skinny young journalist who has been involved in investigative journalism since his second year at college came running to my office this week. He had made a discovery about Mawared, the flag ship company owned by the Jordanian armed forces. As part of a report he was researching on financial integrity of top Jordanian officials he sought information about ownership of companies abroad. Working with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo, Shawabkeh had discovered that the Jordanian army’s Mawared has registered a company in the European tax-haven of Luxembourg and that this company had branched in the UK, the Virgin Islands, Dubai and Morocco.

Shawabkeh is an investigative journalist in Radio al Balad a community radio based in Amman, Jordan who was trained with ARIJ, Arab Reporters for Investigative journalism. Even before publishing a word about it, the integrity of politicians report has been attracting attention and worry. When the head of the Jordanian parliament’s legal affairs committee failed to show up for an interview Musab filmed a stand up in front of the empty desk and made it clear to staffers that this is how his response will appear on youtube. Within minutes of returning to the office, the MP called Musab apologized for not showing up and agreed to give the on record interview.

This newly found courage didn’t come easy. Continue Reading »

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May 26 2013

Report Notes Restrictions On Israeli, Palestinian Journalists

AlMonitor

 

By Daoud Kuttab

If physical access is an important requirement for good journalism, the ability of Palestinians and Israelis to cover their ongoing conflict is largely compromised. This is one of the issues raised by a delegation of the International Press Institute (IPI) that visited Palestine and Israel in February.

The mission sponsored by the Vienna-based nongovernmental organization produced “Patriotism, Pressure and Press Freedom: How Israeli and Palestinian Media Cover the Conflict from Inside,” a 37-page report based on interviews with more than 50 media practitioners in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. The report focuses initially on how local media covered the November 2012 Israeli war on Gaza, but a closer look at the report’s recommendations zooms in on restrictions on journalists’ freedom of movement as the biggest problem facing members of the Palestinian and Israeli press. Continue Reading »

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May 14 2013

Is Palestinian Media A Special Case?

Published by under Articles,Media Activism

AlMonitor

 

By Daoud Kuttab

The official title of the first conference of its kind at An Najah university on April 28 was “The Palestinian Media in Light of Changes in the Arab World.” But a more appropriate title for the proceedings of the one-day event at Palestine’s largest university would have been “Whether Palestinian Journalists and the Palestine Media Merit Being a Special Case.”

The “special case” controversy erupted when the well-known journalist Nabil Amr told the large audience of his comments to Yasser Arafat as soon as Amr was appointed minister of information. ”I told him,” said the former minister, “that I intended to abolish the ministry and privatize Palestine TV and Sawt Falstine [Voice of Palestine radio] to a public service station such as the BBC.” Amr, who at one time suffered wounds from unknowns shooting into his house, said Arafat refused his idea without even a discussion. Continue Reading »

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Mar 28 2013

Broadcasters get push in Cairo

Published by under Articles,Media Activism

Following appeared in The Jordan Times

By Daoud Kuttab

Maghdis was living in the US when the Qadhafi regime fell in Libya. A linguist by profession, Maghdis had established an NGO to help his community of Imazighen.

Muammar Qadhafi had banned his people from using their language. With Qadhafi gone, Maghdis decided to return to the white mountains south of Tripoli to establish a local community radio station that will broadcast in the ethnic Imazighen language.

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the Sakkafs have been putting out a quality English language newspaper, The Yemen Times. Then the revolution provided a unique opportunity. The children of the late Abdel Aziz Sakkaf, whose exposés on torture in Yemen is suspected to have got him killed — the incident is still unresolved — wanted to start an independent Arabic language radio station. Continue Reading »

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Feb 26 2013

Woe

Published by under Articles,Media Activism

By Daoud Kuttab

Amazing what a difference a year can make. Last year we met in Tunis and signed agreements with young activists in various countries to do what seemed the impossible. Defy the logic that has prevailed in the Arab world namely that it is easier to change governments and bring down dictators than it is to change a media regulatory system.

But in one year we are seeing ordinary people regain their voice, sit behind microphones, answer phones of their own public and broadcast whatever their own local communities wanted to hear and talk about.

It wasn’t easy, it took courage, strong will and an unshakable belief in the simple right that is expressed in the 19th article of the Universal declaration of Human rights- Continue Reading »

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Feb 14 2013

How best to celebrate World Radio Day

Published by under Articles,Jordan,Media Activism

By Daoud Kuttab

February 13th has been declared by the United Nations Education and Science Organisation (UNESCO) as World Radio Day. In addition to traditional public statements and protocol activities there are some concrete things that can be done to help make the world a better place to live in with help of radio.

Radio is a fabulous media, an instrument that allows people to communicate. It allows people to communicate without paying for it. Not every one can afford to buy a newspaper or even have it accessible in their village. Not only is radio free (except for the battery costs) and accessible, the information transmittedby radio can be understood by all citizens rich or poor,learned or ignorant, Even those who are unable to read and write (including those with seeing incapabilities and persons who are illiterate can enjoy radio. Continue Reading »

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