Poets, Litigious Academics and the Media in Tajikistan

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article has been amended.

A newspaper editor in Tajikistan is locked in a legal battle with academics over her right to publish an opinion piece.

Olga Tutubalina, editor  of the country’s most popular newspaper, Asia-Plus wrote an opinion-based blog post on the newspaper’s website in May 2013 about a Tajik poet Bozor Sobir who had once been a vocal critic of the country’s government, but had recently changed his stance. Sobir lived in the USA for over 20 years but had recently returned to Tajikistan.

Tutubalina suggested that the poet’s opinion of the government had been affected by the fact that he had been warmly welcomed back by the country’s president. She used a quote , supposedly by Vladimir Lenin, who compares intelligentsia to ‘feces of society’. Read more

Do as I Say, not as I Do.  Media and Accountability

The European Union’s proposal to strengthen national media self-regulatory bodies has triggered a new debate on whether or not regulatory institutions carry out their tasks effectively and efficiently. A Europe-wide research project “Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe” (MediaAcT) polled journalists from 14 countries to see how effective media regulation is, and how it should change. This report outlines some of the preliminary findings.

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EU Moves toward
a Digital Freedom Strategy

January 7, 2013 by · 6 Comments 

Digital rights deserve just as much protection as the fundamental rights according to the European Parliament in Strasburg, which recently endorsed  a  report on “Digital Freedom Strategy in Foreign Policy.” The Dutch Member of Parliament, Marietje Schaake – undoubtedly the most “wired” politician in Europe –  introduced the report  which will hopefully influence future European policy in the field of digital freedom and the Internet. The report, approved in Strasburg with a wide majority, lays out many concrete initiatives which, if formally adopted by the Union, will make Europe one of the most progressive regions for rights in the digital sphere. In fact, the report affirms that “uncensored access to the open Internet, mobile phones and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have impacted human rights and fundamental freedoms, exerting an enabling effect by expanding the scope of freedom of expression, access to information, the right to privacy and freedom of assembly across the world.”

Presentation of the report in the Parliament’s plenary meeting


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Greece: Crisis Raises Censorship on the Media

November 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Journalists arrested, netizens remanded to trial. A petition calls on EU authorities to intervene as the media in Athens faces a new season of menace.

Economic crisis is bearing down hard in the Hellenic country. Ongoing violence continues to rattle the capital while the nation remains far from uncovering a definitive solution to its economic woes. Newspapers all over the world reported on recent strikes and anti-austerity protests in Athens as parliament discusses a new €13.5 billion austerity package, yet there’s another matter of concern: freedom of speech. Index On Censorship has denounced “multiple instances of censorship and attacks on the press” and “systematic efforts to curtail media freedom” since the tension began. Kostas Vaxevanis’s story is emblematic of the precarious atmosphere among media outlets in Greece.
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Eight Ways the EU Can Help Journalism

August 24, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

*Article courtesy of the European Journalism Centre

Why is the European Union so ineffective when it comes to supporting press freedom and media pluralism?

The Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, addressed this question in a keynote to a European Parliament Seminar on Media Freedom in the EU Member States in May. In short, she made the following points:

  • The practical, economic, cultural and legal framework conditions for media pluralism and press freedom vary massively from one Member State to another and thus cannot all be painted with one brush;
  • If the EU were to take pluralism-related action at all, it must not focus on bad examples in particular Member States (such as most recently Hungary, or Italy a few years ago), but go for an overarching and universal approach;
  • Member States have so far not vested the EU with the power directly to defend media freedom in the first place, at least not within the Member States themselves;
  • The issue is aggravated by the fact that journalism, perhaps the most relevant aspect of media pluralism, is currently going through profound changes brought on by the Internet, and the outcome of such changes is yet unknown; Read more

A Pan-European Newspaper

July 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

*Article courtesy of the European Journalism Centre

On a Tuesday morning in Rome, a woman drinks her espresso while browsing the European Daily in a noisy cafeteria.

At the same time in Stockholm, an Erasmus student from Bulgaria is absorbed in a report from the same paper about his country finally being accepted into the Schengen area. Although just a scenario right now, these scenes could soon become reality with the expected launch of the European Daily newspaper in early autumn.

“Europe’s daily newspaper will give open-minded Europeans a reliable, authoritative source for quality news and analysis in English from a European perspective,” says Johan Malmsten, one of the three young founders of the newspaper. Hold on a second, a new daily newspaper in 2012? Who wants to launch a newspaper at a time when advertising revenues are increasingly migrating online and print journalists need to learn multimedia skills to keep their jobs? At a time when media analysts are predicting the death of print media? Read more

The Dark Side of Turkey

June 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s been a recent revival of trials attempting to integrate Turkey into the EU, yet advocates of such an action should perhaps take a closer look.

Unfortunately, Western media rarely report on the harassment doled out to members of the press in Turkey. For the sake of transparency, I’ll confess that even as a media researcher and journalism expert, I’ve been largely unaware of how Prime Minister Erdogan has driven the media toward conformity and the ways in which he’s supported the creeping Islamisation of his country. Perhaps most alarming is the recent dismantling of Dogan, the largest Turkish media company to demonstrate a critical attitude toward his government.

Erdogan’s son-in-law was enthroned as CEO of the other media conglomerate, Calik. Unfavorable editors in chief were replaced, and journalists risking a critical lip may face personal reprimands by the prime minister himself Read more

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