ICE blogs

December 15, 2008

Top peace journalism award for Amy Goodman

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, human rights — news_editor @ 6:58 pm

Investigative journalist Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, a daily TV/radio news show airing on more than 700 stations worldwide, has won a major award for the show’s peace journalism. Goodman collected the Communication for Peace Award during the international conference of the World Association for Christian Communication in Cape Town, South Africa, 6-10 October 2008.

Amy Goodman draws her inspiration from independent thinkers, artists, activists, journalists and alternative media around the world – those who challenge the powers that be. She writes: ‘Every day, Democracy Now! breaks the sound barrier by broadcasting a rich, dissenting, diverse range of voices. This includes the powerful and the grassroots, the banned, the celebrated, the despised, marginalized and ignored. These are the voices of people fighting to make the world a better, more humane, just, peaceful, and more compassionate place.’

Goodman holds a degree in anthropology from Harvard University and began her journalism career as producer of the evening news show for community radio station WBAI, Pacifica Radio’s station in New York City. In 1991, she travelled to East Timor to report on the Indonesian occupation of that country. There, she and colleague Allan Nairn witnessed Indonesian soldiers gun down 270 East Timorese men, women and children during a memorial procession. Indonesian soldiers savagely beat both journalists, fracturing Nairn’s skull. Their documentary, Massacre: The Story of East Timor, later won numerous awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award, the Armstrong Award, and the Radio/Television News Directors Award.

Breaking the silence

Goodman believes the role of the media is to go to where the silence is and say something. ‘I think the media can build bridges in society between cultures and communities. But we need to hear people speaking for themselves. That breaks down bigotry and the stereotypes that fuel hatred. If you don’t hear the voices of certain people, and you see them being demonized, it becomes easier to treat them as sub-human.’

In March 2004, Goodman obtained the international broadcast exclusive of the return of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from his imposed exile in the Central African Republic to Jamaica. Her coverage of the Haitian story scored more than 3.5 million hits on the web site of Democracy Now!, ultimately forcing the story into the mainstream press in what Goodman describes as ‘trickle up journalism’.

Since 2006, Goodman has been writing a weekly column Breaking the Sound Barrier for King Features Syndicate. She says her column’s focus is to ‘include voices so often excluded, people whose views the media mostly ignore, issues they distort and even ridicule’.

Goodman has published three New York Times best-sellers: The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004) Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and The People who Fight Back (2006); and Standing up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008), each co-authored with her brother, journalist David Goodman.

November 27, 2008

training for journalsits and PR people on coverage of asylum seekers and refugees

For colleagues in the UK: a Norwich-based organisation is offering free media training  on 9 December for journalists, public relations workers and media officers on media coverage of asylum and refugee issues.

As part of the City of Refuge Community programme, the New Writing Partnership will be holding a daylong training event on media coverage of asylum and refugee issues aimed at journalists, public relations workers and media officers on media coverage of asylum and refugee issues.  The training will be delivered by the Exiled Journalists’ Network (EJN).

This training event is free.
Date:  9th of December.
Venue:  The New Writing Partnership, 14 Princes Street, Norwich, NR3 1AE

November 24, 2008

suicide video in the public interest?

Filed under: News, Headlines, media policy, journalism, conflict, human rights — news_editor @ 9:10 pm

A judge has barred an Argentine cable television station from airing footage of a former police commander shooting himself on camera to avoid arrest on human rights violations. Judge Martha de Gomez Alsina banned Cronica TV from replaying the image - which it had already aired - after the Federal Broadcasting Committee requested the order, the state news agency Telem reported Sunday. Mario Ferreyra, 63, killed himself on Friday as police arrived at his home to arrest him on charges arising from the disappearance, torture and death of dissidents during Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship. The suicide was captured by a TV crew that had just finished interviewing Ferreyra. The images caused initial shock among viewers but little lasting debate in a country where graphic violence is common on television. But the broadcasting committee said the transmission constituted ’serious misconduct’ under Argentine laws against disseminating extremely violent or sordid images. (AP via ABC News)

August 12, 2008

Media fight looms on privacy laws

Filed under: ethical space editors blog, Headlines, media policy, journalism, human rights — news_editor @ 2:11 am

The Australian newspaper and other media organisations in the country state that they ‘are readying for a showdown’ if the Australian Law Reform Commission recommends tough new privacy laws today:

The commission’s report could have significant ramifications for news reporting, especially on the lives of well-known people. Justin Quill, a media and litigation lawyer and director of law firm Kelly Hazell, said a privacy law would most affect magazines that specialised in reporting celebrity news, followed by shows such as A Current Affair and Today Tonight and then other news services. Gilbert + Tobin partner Peter Leonard expected the immediate effect of a privacy law would be ‘more cautious reporting around the personal life of celebrities’. For example, he said much of the reporting of former AFL footballer Wayne Carey might be disallowed if a privacy law existed. In its newsletter last week, Gilbert + Tobin said the ALRC’s report was expected to recommend ‘the most significant changes to the Privacy Act in the 20 years of its existence’.

The Right to Know Coalition, which represents Australia’s top media groups, including News Limited, publisher of The Australian, on freedom of speech issues - is against a privacy law. The coalition argued a statutory right to privacy would restrain the media’s ability to keep the public informed. Fairfax Media general counsel Gail Hambly said the evidence in Europe, where a privacy law existed, was that it was only used by high-profile people.

(The Australian)

June 29, 2008

US school micro-chips schoolbags

Filed under: ethical space editors blog, Headlines, human rights — news_editor @ 9:56 pm

U.S. School District to Begin Microchipping Students

According to RINF.com, a US school district has announced a pilot program to monitor student movements by means of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips implanted in their schoolbags.

The Middletown School District in Rhode Island, in partnership with MAP Information Technology Corp, has launched a pilot program to implant RFID chips into the schoolbags of 80 children at the Aquidneck School. Each chip would be programmed with a student identification number, and would be read by an external device installed in one of two school buses. The buses would also be fitted with global positioning system (GPS) devices.

Parents or school officials could log onto a school web site to see whether and when specific children had entered or exited which bus, and to look up the bus’s current location as provided by the GPS device.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the plan as an invasion of children’s privacy and a potential risk to their safety.

‘There’s absolutely no need to be tagging children,’ said Stephen Brown, executive director of the ACLU’s Rhode Island chapter. According to Brown, the school district should already know where its students are.

‘[This program is] a solution in search of a problem,’ Brown said.

June 5, 2008

Reed drops links to arms trade after journalists protest

Journalists at Reed Elsevier, publishers of more than 2,000 medical and scientific journals, have helped persuade the company to drop its ties to the arms trade. It represents a major victory for collective action to promote principled, ethical journalism. The company said on 29 May 2008 that it had sold the DSEi, ITEC and LAAD defence exhibitions to Britain’s largest independent exhibitions group, Clarion Events, for an undisclosed sum.

Reed’s decision to stop organizing defence shows followed a long campaign of protest by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and by many of its staff. In particular, staff on Reed’s top medical title, the Lancet, claimed the journal could not be linked in any way to the arms industry. In a September 2005 editorial, it commented: ‘On behalf of our readers and contributors, we respectfully ask Reed Elsevier to divest itself of all business interests that threaten human, and especially civilian, health and well-being. Values of harm reduction and science-based decision making are the core of public-health practice.’

In addition, a group of internationally acclaimed writers including J.M. Coetzee, Ian McEwan and Arabella Weir, joined the protest, writing a public letter to coincide with the London Book Fair, a Reed-organised event. They were appalled their trade was ‘commercially connected to one which exacerbates insecurity and repression’. Shareholders also reduced their stakes in Reed promising not to re-invest until it cut all links with the defence exhibitions.

See http://www.ejc.net/media_news/

Al-Jazeera cameraman finally released from ‘worst prison mankind has ever seen’

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, politics, conflict, human rights — news_editor @ 12:57 am

Associated Press reports that An Al-Jazeera cameraman released from the US-run Guantanamo Bay detention centre in April 2008 described it as the worst prison mankind has ever seen. Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese citizen, told a cheering crowd in Khartoum: ‘After 2,340 days spent in the most heinous prison mankind has ever known, we are honored to be here. Thank you, and thank all those defended us and of our right in freedom.’

Al-Haj was the only journalist from a major international news organization held at Guantanamo and many of his supporters saw his detention as punishment for an Arabic television channel whose broadcasts angered US officials. But his imprisonment received very little coverage in the mainstream Western media.

Al-Haj, who was supported while in Guantanamo by the human rights charity Reprieve, said: ‘I was subjected to 130 (interrogation) sessions, more than 35 about Al-Jazeera, and they wanted me to be a spy against Al-Jazeera.’ As a faithful Muslim, he rejected the offer.

Though able to walk a short distance at the event, al-Haj was still weak after a 16-month hunger strike at Guantanamo. His attorney, Zachary Katznelson, who met with al-Haj at the US base April 11, said he was emaciated because of the hunger strike. He said al-Haj had been having problems with his liver and kidneys and had blood in his urine.
•    See http://www.reprieve.org.uk/documents/08.05.08OnefinalindignityforSamialHaj.pdf

April 9, 2008

Adbuster fights to show ’subvertisements’ on Canadian TV

Filed under: News, Headlines, advertising ethics, media policy, human rights — news_editor @ 10:01 pm

The media activism site RINF reports that one of Adbusters’ founders is fighting TV owners in the courts for the right to buy advertising time from them, arguing that, in exercising their editorial control, they are restricting the public right to communicate over the airwaves. RINF’s reporter James Ewart writes:

Kalle Lasn is a fighter for the right to communicate. A privilege, says the founder of Adbusters magazine, that goes one step farther than the freedom of speech.

‘You can stand on the corner and shout at people as they are going by,’ Lasn says. ‘But if a handful of corporations have media in their pocket, they can totally hoodwink the public.’

From his home in Vancouver, Lasn himself communicates to the masses on the pages of Adbusters—a 10-year-old culture-jamming magazine published through the Adbusters Media Foundation.

On Feb. 18, the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed a case that Lasn brought forth, which argued that Canadian TV conglomerate CanWest Global was obligated, under the Canadian Broadcasting Act, to sell television advertising time to Adbusters.

The court’s dismissal reiterated the rulings of North American courts that have found private TV broadcasters under no obligation to allow the public access to public airwaves.

‘This case goes right to the very heart of democracy—[about] who has a voice and who doesn’t,’ Lasn says.

Of the major broadcasters, only CNN has aired Adbusters’ ‘Buy Nothing Day’ commercials (or ’subvertisements’) that tell people not to go shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving.

One of the subvertisements mocks Calvin Klein’s black-and-white underwear ads. This 30-second parody concludes with an ultra-slim model replaced by a more normally proportioned woman bent over a toilet as if giving into a bulimic impulse. ‘Why are nine out of 10 women dissatisfied with some aspect of their own bodies?’ the narrator asks blankly. ‘The beauty industry is the beast.’

(The rejected ads, along with the tape-recorded refusals from major media organizations, are available at http://www.adbusters.org.)

Lasn first filed his suit in 1995, after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) terminated an advertising contract when the automobile industry complained about an Adbusters anti-car ad. The Supreme Court of Canada, however, chose not to hear the case.

In 2004, following a string of CanWest refusals to air any of Adbusters’ 30-second TV parodies that ridiculed the forestry, fast food, pharmaceutical and high fashion industries, Lasn filed suit against the corporation, which owns three major daily newspapers and a majority of TV stations in Vancouver.

‘We just want this high-minded, legal right to walk into a television station and buy airtime under the same rules and conditions as advertising agencies do,’ Lasn says.

Adbusters is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada—again.

‘We’re not just trying to win a legal battle,’ Lasn says. ‘We’re trying to create a sort of media literacy lesson for all the people in North America to show the fact that there is no democracy on the public airwaves.’

‘It’s pretty ridiculous that a nonprofit, public interest group can’t buy advertising on the public airwaves,’ says Steve Anderson, coordinator of the nonprofit Canadian Campaign for Democratic Media. ‘What’s interesting is that the CBC, specifically, wouldn’t allow this, because the CBC, unlike PBS [in the United States], runs advertisements.’

Lasn is optimistic about efforts to democratize the public airwaves, and says he may bring suit against U.S. broadcasters under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rather than on constitutional grounds, where U.S. courts have consistently sided with broadcasters.

Currently in development is an ad for Adbusters’ Blackspot shoes, which are made at a union factory out of organic hemp and old tires. When the Blackspot ads are finished, Lasn plans to pitch them to MTV. Unlike previous ads, the Blackspot ad will promote a product, and therefore not be restricted by broadcasters’ advocacy ad guidelines.

‘This actually happens fairly frequently [in the United States], that groups try to buy ad time and networks refuse to sell it,’ says Angela Campbell, a law professor at Georgetown University and director of its Institute for Public Representation, a program at the school that specializes in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues. ‘The court almost always sides with the broadcasters,’ she says.

Campbell points to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in CBS v. Democratic National Committee. Major news networks were pressured to air ads opposing the Vietnam War, and the high court ruled that broadcasters can control editorial content, and are thus free to choose what ads they want to run.

Campbell says the court cited the Fairness Doctrine, which obligated broadcasters to air different perspectives on an issue. And because the networks’ coverage of the Vietnam War was already in accordance with the statute, it was not necessary for the public to see ads against the war.

‘Subsequently, our FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine,’ she says, ‘and one could argue that today, when we don’t have the Fairness Doctrine as sort of that backstop, it’s questionable if the case would come out the same way.’

In theory, broadcasters are supposed to serve the public, and that is the standard the FCC uses for granting and renewing broadcast licenses for networks to use the airwaves.

‘The majority of the FCC today takes the attitude that public interest means whatever the marketplace will bear,’ Campbell says. ‘There are some public interests they are concerned about, but they don’t have very many enforceable standards. So the stations can do pretty much whatever they want.’

Ultimately, Lasn hopes to begin dismantling media conglomerates with antitrust lawsuits, demanding the media devote at least a minute of public airtime for every hour devoted to corporate interests, and establishing a new human right—the right to communicate.

‘How come we the people don’t have access to one of the most powerful social communication mediums of our time, the television?’ Lasn asks. ‘There is this new human right in the information age, this right to communicate, which goes farther than freedom of speech.’

April 1, 2008

conference on human rights and peace

Filed under: ethical space editors blog, Headlines, politics, conflict, conferences, human rights — news_editor @ 9:58 pm

Activating Human Rights and Peace

An International Conference
1-4 July 2008
Byron Bay Community and Cultural Centre,
Byron Bay NSW, Australia

“I welcome the conference on Activating Human Rights and Peace that the Centre for Peace and Social Justice of Southern Cross University is hosting between 1-4 July 2008. It is easy to talk about human rights and peace. Forests of trees are destroyed in the documentation dealing with these subjects. However, activating them and translating aspirations into reality is the real challenge for our species and our world. A meeting devoted to translating ideas into action will be well timed in mid-2008. I hope that there will be a strong attendance with many notions to challenge the mind and to inspire action.”
- Justice Michael Kirby, Patron, Centre for Peace and Social Justice.

Confirmed Keynotes:

Aruna Gopinath
Dr, Head, Dept of Politics & International Relations, HELP University College, Malaysia

Judy Atkinson,
Professor, Gnibi the College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross University, Australia

Dede Oetomo
Dr, Airlangga University and Founder, Gaya Nusantara, Indonesia

Mutassim Abu El Hawa
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
Kibbutz Ketura, Israel

Ilana Meallem
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
Kibbutz Ketura, Israel

Graham Innes
Human Rights Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Australia

Adrien Wing
Bessie Dutton Murray Professor of Law, University of Iowa Law School, USA

Ranbir Singh
Professor and Vice-Chancellor, Nalsar University of Law, India

Kevin Clements
Professor and Director, Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland, Australia

Bee Chen Goh
Professor, Head of School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University

Please send proposals for 20-25 minute papers, with a 200-word
abstract by 26 February 2008 (Late submissions will be considered). Please see website for details.

Send to: cpsjpapers@scu.edu.au

The conference will have a mix of plenary sessions with invited papers, and panel sessions. The conference organisers welcome papers from scholars, researchers, postgraduates, activists, community groups and policy makers.

See the book Activating Human Rights, edited by Elisabeth Porter and Baden Offord (Peter Lang, Oxford, 2006).
This conference is hosted by the Centre for Peace and Social Justice, Southern Cross University; in collaboration with the Hawke Research Institute’s Centre for Peace, Conflict & Mediation, University of South Australia; the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland, and NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India, and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Australia.

March 12, 2008

Promoting new forms of ethical reflection

Communication Ethics Now, which draws together articles from Volume 2 (2005) of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics, is to be published on 15 July 2008. In a foreword, Cees Hamelink, Professor Emeritus of International Communication at the University of Amsterdam, comments: ‘Ethical inquiry needs to be more creative and deconstruct situations that look like dilemmas into configurations of a wide variety of moral options and challenges. We are very fortunate to have such important platforms as Communication Ethics Now for this exercise in new forms of reflection!’

He adds: ‘This book convincingly demonstrates how lively and relevant today’s ethical reflections on communication can be. The chapters of the book cover such an exciting and broad range of topics.’

Edited by Richard Keeble, joint editor of Ethical Space, the 25 chapters are divided into five sections. In the first, which focuses journalism ethics, John Tulloch examines the British press’s coverage of the CIA torture flights (better known as ‘extraordinary rendition’) while Julie-ann Davies reports on the media’s increasing use of anonymous sources. Jane Taylor takes a particularly unusual look at the media’s obsession with celebrity focusing on the coverage of Carole Chaplin, Cherie Blair’s ’style guru’ and broadcaster, novelist and columnist Libby Purves expresses outrage at the media’s daily diet of ‘unkind intrusions and falsifications’.

In an international section, leading Nigerian academic Kate Azuka Omenugha explores the representation of Africanness in the British press, Susanne Fengler and Stephan Russ-Mohl express concern over the slump in media standards in Germany while Angelika W. Wyka focuses on journalistic standards and democratization of the mass media in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

In a section that takes a historical perspective on journalism ethics, Jane Chapman’s chapter looks at ‘Republican Citizenship, Ethics and the French Revolutionary Press 1789-92′ while Martin Conboy’s focuses on Wooler’s Black Dwarf, a radical journal of the early 19th century.

Another section on communication ethics and pedagogy draws on papers at the 2005 annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics with contributions from Raphael Cohen-Almagor, John Strain, Brian Hoey, Brian Morris, Simon Goldsworthy and Anne Gregory. The philosophical dimensions of communication ethics are explored by Karen Sanders, Hallvard Johannes Fossheim (in an interview with Kristine Lowe) Robert Beckett, Moira Carroll-Mayer and Bernd Carsten Stahl. In the final section on business and communication ethics, Kristine Lowe interviews Paul Jackson, of Manchester Business School.

Editor Richard Keeble, in an introduction, says: ‘The Institute of Communication Ethics (ICE) stresses in its mission statement: “Communication ethics is the founding philosophy for human interaction that defines issues according to their impact on human well-being and relationships.” And it is this caring for people - the desperately poor, the inarticulate, the oppressed - along with a sense that honesty, integrity, clarity, respect for difference and diversity are some of the core principles underlying human interaction and, ultimately, communication ethics that drive the many writings in this volume.’

  • Communication Ethics Now is published by Troubador, Leicester, for £12.99. It follows the success of Communication Ethics Today, also published by Troubador, which drew on articles in the first volume of Ethical Space.
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