The photojournalistic collaboration between Bangladeshi and Norwegian institutions was mentioned when Arve Ofstad presented his new book “Norway and Bangladesh A Fifty-Year Relationship 1971-2022” in Oslo 28 October.
Under the headline “Photojournalism – an important tool for the free press” the cooperation between the internationally renowned photojournalist Shahidul Alam and his Pathshala South Asia Media Institute and the photojournalism education in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at OsloMet since 2003 is described:
“They have become familiar with and have adapted to other cultures and have been exposed to new challenges in participating countries. At the same time, they have learned new techniques and acquired an international network. In many countries, journalism is a vulnerable profession, and photojournalists can document events that others want to keep hidden.”
Several previous ambassadors were present when the Norwegian translation of the book was launched in Norad – Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation in Oslo.
The current Norwegian ambassador to Bangladesh, Espen Rikter-Svendsen, drew the line back to 14 April 1972 in his opening. He also told about the ambitious celebration in Dhaka in the spring, when the English translation was launched.
State Secretary Erling Rimestad talked about the successful efforts to reduce poverty and the current challenges regarding freedom of expression and democracy in Bangladesh.
Executive Vice President Rita Skjærvik in Telenor emphasized their contribution to digital development in the country, one of the largest mobile markets in the world.
Environmental anthropologist Camelia Dewan presented her research about the containerships in Chittagong (now Chattogram), and emphasized green recycling.
Director General of Norad, Bård Vegar Solhjell, was born the same year as the cooperation between Norway and Bangladesh started. He pointed to the stunning development the country has gone through, and sees democracy and human rights, climate changes and the size of the Bangla economy as important in the years ahead.
“Safety of Journalists Training Program” was held in Istanbul on October 15-16, in cooperation with TOVAK (Turkish Social Services Foundation), TGS (The Journalists’ Union of Turkey) and JMIC-OsloMet.
The first day of the training was entirely allocated to Abeer Saady, one of the distinguished international safety experts working with JMIC. In a total of 4 sessions, interactive training content on how to stay away from violence and how journalists can protect themselves, and the risks and threats that reporters frequently face were discussed.
On the second day of the training, how journalists can also protect their mental health when applying for psychological support, and legal aspects of journalism safety and digital security were discussed in 3 separate sessions. All sessions had content covering both the offline and online safety of journalists.
The lessons were very productive thanks to the hands-on training method that allowed the participants to share their experiences and learn from each other. At the end of the 2-day training, most of the participants said that they found the training very satisfying, with reference to the awareness they gained on journalism safety and the practical knowledge they gained. In addition, they stated that they wanted to cover all their deficiencies in this regard with more detailed, longer-term training in the near future.
The safety handbook “What if…” by Abeer Saady is translated to Turkish. Abeer Saady was asked to do a safety training in Turkey when the book was launched by TGS before the summer, and she is invited back again.
The two-day CairoMediaConference 4 at The American University in Cairo (AUC) October 23 & 24 will attempt to find the right words and visuals to talk about the global climate crisis and to foster sustainability.
Journalists and media professionals will get input on framing and communication, interactive practical workshops, inspiring storytelling and narratives, climate research presentations, information on the interaction of journalism and social media when it comes to communicating climate change, climate protection awareness and strategies to kindle climate action.
In November of 2022, Egypt will be hosting the world’s climate conference the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27). Global leaders, civil society organizations, environmentalists and business people will be meeting to negotiate and produce the kind of game-changing measures that the climate needs.
The Faculty of Humanities, Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) (FCCU), in collaboration with the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and Journalism and Media International Centre (JMIC) at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet) in Norway, hosted a three-day workshop on “Peace Journalism” on the topic of “Surviving the social media onslaught: Mainstream journalism, peace, and democracy in the transitional societies” in Lahore in Pakistan 11 – 13 October 2022.
If we agree with Marshal McLuhan in the slightest possible way, the advent of social media ushers is the dawn of a new phase in human civilisation. The rise of social media has taken the world by storm: online aggression, polarisation in human societies, populism, fake news, alternative truth, and many challenges outweigh the original euphoria of the arrival of the new saviour. There is no doubt about the positive influence of the social media: interactive discourse patterns, freedom to express ones views without any dependence on external gate keepers, voices for the voiceless, representation of the marginalised. All these but seem to be a lost cause amid the chaos created by echo chamber mentality through creating communities of consent. The public sphere is lost to the populist and the ‘unfinished project of modernity’ seems falling apart.
The three day peace journalism workshop on Surviving the Social Media Onslaught: Mainstream Journalism, Peace and Democracy in Transitional Societies was organised at Forman Christian College University, Lahore in collaboration with Journalism and Media International Center, OsloMet Norway from October 11 to 13, 2022. Head of the department of Journalism & Media Studies at OsloMet, Anne Hege Simonsen also participated in the Lahore workshop.
77 participants registered through a Google link, 51 of these were invited, while 45 successfully completed the workshop to win their certificates of participation. All universities offering mass communication degrees in Lahore were represented in the workshop. Participants from Multan in southern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Peshawar and Swat), Karachi, and Islamabad also participated in the activity. Working journalists from Lahore and Peshawar were also among the participants. The workshop program was organised around four themes: theoretical concepts of peace journalism within the context of social media and preservation of democracy, practical journalists’ insights into the working of the social media dominated media structures in Pakistan, technological aspects of social media platforms’ perils and potentials, expertise from fields outside academic and practical journalism.
All the four thematic streams contributed to the understanding of the working of mediated societies in transition. The academic presentations of research projects gave an insight into the working of the research structures in Pakistan. These were mutually beneficial for the presenters and the audiences, the former getting valuable feedback from a well versed audience, while the latter having access to the latest developments.
The theoretical submissions were balanced by the experiences from the field. Working journalists gave their views on the practical impact of social media on their everyday working in the media. Views from outside the realm of peace studies and journalism came handy through inputs from counter insurgency and counter terrorism perspectives. It also made clear the distinction between the former and the latter two, peace studies being a social process, believing in the goodness and equality of humankind, while anything counter (insurgency or terrorism) serving as strategic responses by political structures used by state apparatuses, resting on the premise of a belligerent other within the same society.
Last but not least was the discussions on the ethical pitfalls in times of war. Truth being the first casualty of any aggression, leaving no victors. The presentation on visual literacy helped the audience to identify their own biases to move out of their personal utopias and become more self-reflective. The discussion on public sphere within the context of Juergen Habermas’ latest book were the highlight of how theoretical underpinnings could be used to practically develop a discourse.
Like all things human, the workshop deepened our understanding of the new media, the challenges and potentials it offers, and how to harness these independent energies for the betterments of human societies. The possibility of a global and shared idea of humanity is very much in sight. It is a vague path with no guarantees or milestones. The only way to explore is to keep moving forward and digging deeper to unearth the best possible option for peace and democracy through our feeble capacities as journalists and educationists.
The Chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission, Ms. Mariam Wangadya has warned public officials against denying citizens access to information in possession of the state.
While speaking during the celebration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) on 28. September 2022 at Makerere University in Uganda, Ms. Wangadya said that many public officials use the excuse of the Official Secrets Act to refuse journalists and citizens access to information in public bodies.
“I wish to implore public officials to end the practice of hiding behind the official secrets Act and Oaths of Secrecy to deny the media and the general public harmless information to which they are legitimately entitled,” she said.
The Official Secrets Act is a law in Uganda that bars public official from disclosing information about the state that they get to know about in exercise of their duties.
Ms. Wangadya said that, “The offices we occupy, we hold them in the public trust, so the citizens of Uganda are entitled to flash a torch into what we are doing and to judge us, whether we are serving them or not, and I think that transparency and accountability requires the public to get access to what we are doing in our offices. So denying the public information is inconsistent with those values of transparency and accountability.’’
While speaking at the same event, Dr. Nakiwala Aisha Sembatya, the Head of Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University said that access to information is important for everyone because: “It is through this right that we are all able to access information from public bodies, which make it important for each one of us if we are to play an important role to the national and global development.” She commended the Journalism & Media International Centre for supporting the organisation of IDUAI celebration at Makerere University.
Ms Rosemary Nasaba who spoke on behalf of the UNESCO Country Representative said that since IDUAI celebration started in 2016 it has provided an opportunity for spreading awareness on the need to expand laws related to information, their actual implementation to build inclusive institutions to access the world. “Today, ICTs such as Internet platforms and artificial intelligence are important enablers of this right. They can help bridge the digital divide by giving citizens access to tailor-made and accessible information that they can also ensure services that are more efficient. They can allow citizens to access public sector information and services nearer instantly, making government services digital hence enhancing transparency and accessibility.” She said.
Ms. Nasaba, however, warned that these developments also raise questions about the fundamental rights, ethical use of artificial intelligence and e-governance by public institutions. “Since artificial intelligence uses citizens’ data, how do we protect the privacy of citizens? As you are aware, artificial intelligence can determine what information we access on which ethical principles is this determined? So it is important that stakeholders pay due attention, so that the use of e-governance and artificial intelligence builds trust, ensures inclusion, protects human rights, and ensures the participation of citizens.”
The Country Representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Uganda, Mr. Ayeda Robert Kotchani, said at the same event that the lack of citizens access to information continues to hamper the realization of sustainable development in Africa. He said the growth of the Internet, its use and the emergency of new technologies have given access to information a renewed importance and greater scrutiny. “Technology and especially social media have been used to spread false information, unfortunately, either intentionally or unintentionally… IDUAI celebration reminds government of their duty to respect and to uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights.” He said.