Categories
Future of Media Journalist security Press freedom War and peace Workshop

Social media and mediated societies in transition

By: Dr. Altaf Ullah Khan

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.

Group photo of the workshop participants, speakers and organizers (Photo: Media Center, Forman Christian College University).

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.

Anne Hege Simonsen engaged the audience in an interactive session (Photo: Media Center, Forman Christian College University).

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.

Altaf Ullha Khan delivers his inaugural speech on the first day of the Workshop (Photo: Media Center, Forman Christian College University).

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.

Question/Answer session between the participant and speakers (Photo: Media Center, Forman Christian College University).

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.

Vice Rector, Douglas Trimble and Altaf Khan presents a souvenir to Anne Hege Simonsen (Photo: Media Center, Forman Christian College University).
Categories
Future of Media Press freedom War and peace

Afghanistan – no country for journalism?

On Tuesday 14 June JMIC (Journalism & Media International Center) at OsloMet presented a report on the development of Afghan journalism after the Taliban takeover in mid-August 2021. 

H.E. Youssof Ghafoorzai, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Norway (Photo:  Pål Arne Kvalnes, OsloMet).

The study is based on analysis of media content from six Afghan outlets, as well as interviews with prominent media leaders, and journalists still working inside Afghanistan. It is to our knowledge the most comprehensive report on this issue so far.  

The event was addressed by: 

H.E. Youssof Ghafoorzai, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Norway, Oddgeir Osland, Dean at the Faculty of Social Sciences, OsloMet, and Knut Olav Åmås, Director, Free Expression Foundation.  

The report was presented by: 

Elisabeth Eide (Professor Emerita, project leader), Hasina Shirzad (MA student, OsloMet), and Zahir Athari (researcher, UiO). 

Other team members are postdoc fellow at OsloMet Mahmud Farjami as well as Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, Director of Nai-SOMA, a media watchdog in Afghanistan, who could not be present at the occasion.  

The presentation was followed by comments from Mr. Sharif Hassanyar, previous Director of Ariana TV network in Afghanistan Kristian Berg Harpviken, Research Professor, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)  

Responses from the authors and questions from the audience. 

The event was streamed for those who could not attend physically.

More information about the event on the OsloMet homepage:
https://www.oslomet.no/en/about/events/afghanistan-journalists

The link to the recording:
https://film.oslomet.no/afghanistan-et-land-der-1

Read more:  

Afghan media landscape drastically changed, finds study – Pajhwok Afghan News  

(In Norwegian):  

Aftenposten:

https://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/kronikk/i/Wjp7zL/overlever-journalistikken-i-afghanistan

Journalisten:

https://journalisten.no/afghanistan-elisabeth-eide-kortnytt/rapport-omfattende-mediedod-i-aghanistan-etter-maktskiftet/523310

Uniforum:

https://www.uniforum.uio.no/nyheter/2022/06/journalistikken-i-afghanistan-er-truga.html

UiO:

KRONIKK: Akademia i Afghanistan i eksistensiell krise – Uniforum (uio.no) 

The launch: https://film.oslomet.no/afghanistan-et-land-der-1 

The printed report is available by clicking here.

All photos by Pål Arne Kvalnes, OsloMet.

Categories
Future of Media Journalist security Press freedom

UGANDA GOVERNMENT COMMITS TO PROMOTING PRESS FREEDOM 

Uganda’s Minister of Information, Communication Technology (ICT) Dr. Chris Baryomunsi has pledged government’s commitment to promote media freedom in Uganda.  

By: Gerald Walulya 

While speaking at the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day on May 5, 2022 in Kampala, Uganda, Baryomunsi said that the government has allowed “reasonable press freedom in Uganda.” 

“The position of government is that the media should be free. I have spoken in audiences of security and police officers and I have insisted that media practitioners should be given freedom and space to practice their profession,” Baryomunsi said before further pledging that: “As long as I am the minister in charge of information I will insist that the police and security have no right whatsoever to harass journalists as they do their work because media practice and journalism is a service like any other.” 

The Minister of Information Communication Technology, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi (center) handing over an award to Dr. Patricia Litho (second from left), the Board Chairperson of Uganda Media Women’s Association (Photo: Christopher Zziwa).

His comments came in the wake of increased attacks on journalists by the police and army that have left several journalists injured and their equipment destroyed. A press freedom index released recently by a local NGO, Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda shows that the Police and the army are the leading perpetuators of press freedom violations in Uganda. 

The recent attacks on journalists have seen Uganda’s 2022 ranking in the World Press Freedom index drop to 132 from 125 in the previous year.  

Baryomunsi acknowledged that media practitioners and journalists need to be supported and protected because they perform an important role in society. 

“We need to work together and we need to support journalists, to protect them but also most importantly to respect and appreciate that they are also doing their work,” he said. 

The keynote speaker, Robert Kabushenga advised journalists to change their mindset as well as retooling and reskilling themselves to fit in the new digital world. 

Mr. Robert Kabushenga, the former Managing Director of the State owned Vision group who was the keynote speaker (Photo: Christopher Zziwa).  

The commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day was supported by the Journalism & Media International Centre of Oslo Metropolitan University.  

Event youtube channel: 

Categories
Conference Future of Media

Cairo Media Conference 3: A success

VIDEO by: Ahmed Montasser

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt partnered once again with OsloMet to host a two-day conference to bring together journalism and media professionals, students, and academics – ranging from decision-makers and editors to social media influencers – to discuss and explore solutions to ever-changing realities they face. 

The Cairo Media Conference 3 held December 6 – 7, 2021 explored ways to address these disruptions, challenges, best practices, and innovation in the aftermath of an extraordinary time. The theme of the conference “The reconstruction of journalism in the age of entertainment and uncertainty” allowed for a diverse number of speakers to share and discuss issues of common concern and mutual exchange with the participants of the conference whether it was related to the effects of audience flight or the arrival of artificial intelligence. 

Organized by Naila Hamdy, the panels and keynotes included Hildegunn Soldal, head of the Digital Department at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and Kristoffer Egeberg editor-in-chief of Faktisk, an independent Fact-checking platform, Abeer Saady, former Egyptian press syndicate member and prominent journalist and current media development expert, and researcher at Dortmund University, Gisselle Khoury, the eminent host of an interview-style regional TV show, and Ehab El-Zelaki editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm, among others.  

Following the success of the conference, The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication Department at AUC looks forward to the fourth edition of the Cairo Media Conference.   

Dr. Naila Hamdy, Associate Professor of Journalism at AUC, highlights the partnership between the American University in Cairo, Egypt and OsloMet that seeks to raise the level of collaboration between the two institutions.   

Video by Ahmed Montasser

Identifying a partner that has a common vision when it comes to journalism, media and media education is exceptionally gratifying. After several years of cooperation, I look forward to more advances in our efforts to contribute to the global conversation on the future of journalism and help enable professionals, educators and students to embrace the unknown, harness the shifts and seize opportunities at these times of uncertainty.”