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A Blog on Understanding, Informing, Empowering, and Influencing Global Publics, published by Matt Armstrong

North Koreans Quietly Open to International Broadcasts

By Alan Heil

(This post originally appeared at The Public Diplomacy Council.)

For well more than a decade, Korea experts who specialize in international media have been examining the impact of foreign broadcasts and DVDs on users in North Korea. They have done so through a combination of in-country surveys and debriefings of defectors from North Korea, refugees and travelers abroad. In annual reports, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders invariably have ranked that country as having the “least free” media in the world. Yet the curtain of near total silence appears to be opening as never before in North Korea.

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Freedom of and to information and public confidence

On March 28, 2012, Gallup and the BBG will discuss how the world’s populations perceive media freedom within their countries and citizens’ confidence in their media.

The one-hour public meeting starts at 10:00am at the Gallup building at 901 F Street, NW, Washington, DC.  RSVP at this link.

Featured will be BBG Governor Michael Meehan, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, BBG Director of Strategy and Director Bruce Sherman, and Gallup Research Consultant Cynthia English.

See also:

 

Beijing makes its voice heard: CCTV expands in the U.S.

 

The FT today reports on the continuing expansion of China’s CCTV in the United States. “China has started to serve US citizens its own side of the story with CCTV America,” writes the FT’s reporter.

CCTV America, from its studio in Washington, D.C., is part of Beijing’s outreach of telling its own story through its own voice.  The expansion has been dramatic and expensive.  They are covering stories of Chinese interest that are not covered by Western media or not covered in a way the Chinese want.  Such is the purpose and advantage of Government International Broadcasting.

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Looking for a headline aggregator for Europe? The Rundown is one of the best

Are you looking for a headline aggregator covering Europe, Russia, and South Central Asia?  The Rundown, compiled by Zach (@ZachPrague) at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), is one of the best.  The mission of RFE/RL is to “promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.”  Naturally, the headlines Zach gathers focus on this mission.

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Bye NPR. Hello BBC, Al Jazeera, Chinese Radio.

The decision by Congress the House of Representatives to defund NPR and block local public radio stations from using federal money to acquire NPR content is, like any action, likely to have interesting unintended consequences. This action comes at a time when demand for information and knowledge of affairs around the globe continues to grow, to focus on just of the many values of NPR. 

Congress The House is creating an opportunity that the US commercial media is unlikely to take advantage of, for whatever reason. The old giants of radio news, from CBS to NBC to the AP are unlikely to jump into the new gap and coverage of similar breadth and depth. The AP has the content, but will their agreements with their members – they are an association with members – allow them to provide content to radio that may also be carried by the local paper? Will Federal Communication Commission rules prevent local newspapers and television from expanding into the space presumably to be vacated by NPR?

The most likely winner, at least the short term, will be foreign government broadcasters. Already, local public radio stations often fill gaps in programming with news from the BBC. It is easy to imagine demand for the BBC will increase if programming from NPR becomes unavailable or drops in quality. But BBC is not the only game in town. The recent performance of Al Jazeera English in covering the Middle East may embolden AJE to explore avenues. I would be surprised if Russia Today wasn’t actively seeking to expand its reach. The same for Chinese Government broadcasters, including Xinhua and Radio China International. I do not anticipate a large expansion into public radio, however.

Forget of course other tax-payer supported news organizations from being legally available to news consumers within America’s borders.

What are you thoughts on this potential example of the law of unintended consequences?

Update/clarification: As NPR points out, including NPR’s Andy Carvin, only 2% of NPR’s funding is federal.

Freedom to Connect

By Jerry Edling

“You will not be able to stay home, brother.

You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.” — Gil Scott-Heron, From the album “Small Talk at 125th and Lennox” (1970)

“The revolution will not be televised…but it may be tweeted.” Posted on weeseeyou.com

January 28, 2011

Freedom to ConnectIn some ways, Gil Scott-Heron’s song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was ahead of its time. The lyrics were recited rather than sung, accompanied by congas and a bongo drum, making it either a vestige of beat poetry or one of the first examples of rap. His point, which must be understood in the context of domestic unrest in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the U.S., was that the revolution was not a pre-packaged bit of pop culture, sanitized for your protection and brought to you with minimal commercial interruption by Xerox. The revolution, in his opinion, was real; or, as the final line of the song reads,

“The revolution will be no re-run, brothers; The revolution will be live.”

Little did he know that in the 21st century a revolution of a different sort would be live and it would be televised. And yes, as the quip on weeseeyou.com vividly notes, it would be tweeted. As of this writing, the Biblical land of Egypt is illuminated with cell phone lights and fireworks as mobs with no definable leaders spill into the streets to celebrate the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as president after weeks of protest and unrest. The revolution was televised, and the power to bring those images to the world was in the hands of the revolutionaries themselves.

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Three signs your newsroom is not ready to cross the digital divide

The Knight Digital Media Center posted ‘three signs’ that indicate a newsroom remains focused on print, with online activities an ‘add-on’ operation. In today’s “now media” of converging platforms and audiences, the newsroom needs to think about where and when both the audience and the information are to be found. Alter the recommendations somewhat and the lessons apply to public diplomacy and public affairs offices as well.

1. The staff still reports to an assignment desk that is focused on print and/or is organized in departments that correspond to the sections of a newspaper. This inevitably means that newsgathering for print gets more time than the news organization can afford and print production demands drive the daily reporting and editing assembly line. The fix: Newsgathering staff reports to the online assignment desk. Print becomes a production team that draws heavily on the online report for content at the end of the day.

2. News meetings focus on top news for the next day’s paper and meeting times reflect print. If your frontline editors are focused on daily meetings that happen in the middle of the morning and late afternoon, you’ve got a big problem. If you’re spending more than one-fifth of the meeting time talking about the next day’s newspaper, you’ve got an even bigger problem. The fix: Meetings run by online editors at times that reflect digital publication timetables (like when to serve peak traffic) and focus primarily on online content, traffic and engagement metrics.

3. The top newsroom executives – say the Editor and Managing Editor(s) – are all print veterans who look at online from the outside. …

The change is a shift from the clock of the producer to that of the consumer. Lost to memory is that current print schedules were based on the consumer: when the commuter picked up his paper to work and from work. Today, the consumer no longer ‘picks up’ the paper as much as she grazes for information during the day across multiple devices and sites.

While technology-poor communities may not have the luxury or time to ‘graze’, their news providers tend to have that access. Other news organizations are a ‘market segment’ that is a valid target for information professionals as the roles of consumer and producer of news become blurred.

Organizations that fail to adapt to the modern information environment will loose access and relevance to audiences that matter. of course this is not true if the paper simply wants to serve a discrete community within a fixed geography, determined primarily by balancing printing and distribution against revenue, where there are no serious competitors.

Event: International Broadcasting and Public Media

Checkout this event of potential value at the New America Foundation, “International Broadcasting and Public Media.” The event’s description is promising, as are the panelists (described as ‘participants’ but surely the audience will be allowed to participate as well, right?).

In an increasingly digital media landscape, people across the globe are relating to their news outlets in new ways. The missions of media producers are changing, as technological innovations reshape news networks into communities. The assumption is that U.S. public media institutions and international broadcasters are also transforming themselves to serve the emerging public interests in media. How should these institutions be changing to meet the needs of audiences that expect to engage in news and information, not just passively receive it? Even amid the explosion of information, there are information gaps. If foreign coverage one of them, how best is it produced and by whom?

I will not be there, unfortunately, but below are questions off the top of my head I’d like asked and discussed (are there really ‘answers’?).

Continue reading “Event: International Broadcasting and Public Media” »

Mexican narcos step up their information war

The GlobalPost has an interesting article by Mike O’Connor on the expanding manipulation of the press in Mexico by a drug cartel. This escalation in information warfare by the Zeta Cartel moves beyond intimidation to block certain stories as the cartel issues stories to discredit their enemies and build “credibility” of their friends. From Analysis: A PR department for Mexico’s narcos:

Instead of reporting on crooked public officials or the growth of organized crime, newspaper editor Martha Lopez runs press releases from the Zeta cartel. …

She said the gang has established its own public relations arm that issues stories the local papers are under orders to run, or else journalists will get hurt. …

There are two editorial lines in the press releases. According to Lopez, the Zetas write their “stories” to make the Mexican army look bad. The army is deployed in the state to help fight the Zetas. So the Zetas send stories about army human rights abuses. “Some of those stories are accurate in a small way, but they are exaggerated. Sometimes they are not true,” Lopez said.

And, then, Lopez said, the Zetas want to make the local police look good. “They protect the police because the police are their allies,” she said. “We get stories about how the police or the chief are so wonderful, especially the chief.”

The Gutenberg Parenthesis and the Extinction of Newspapers

Gutenberg Parenthesis illustration

An important question in today’s information environment is how will people receive their news? The centuries old model of print may be going to the margins because of financial challenges: more readers requires more printed copies, requiring larger and more expensive printing plants and distribution channels. The Age of Print may be dead. 

The Gutenberg Parenthesis is the theory that the age of text was a temporary interruption, a manifestation of technology where information, knowledge and truth were structured and “owned” in volumes. We are “going forward to the past” where conversation, gossip,  the visceral and unstructured content dominates.

Ross Dawson wrote earlier this year that newspapers in their current form (emphasis mine) will be irrelevant in Australia in 2022. Dawson created a map titled the Newspaper Extinction Timeline and a key factors diagram to support his argument.

Newspaper_Timeline_front.gif

His prediction is newspapers will be out in the US in 2017, the UK and Iceland in 2019, and so one.

What are your thoughts?

 

Image: Thomas Pettitt