China Digital Times translated a censored infographics that tells the history, characteristics and public opinions on China Central Television's flagship news program, Xinwen Lianbo (News Simulcast).
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Volunteer translators following the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine have organized on Facebook, setting up pages like Maidan Needs Translators and Euromaidan Translators where urgent news from the protests that require translation to reach a wider international audience are shared and Euro-Maidan As It Is, where translated content is published.
The translators also provide content for counterpart English-language pages Euromaidan in English, Euromaidan Updates in English and Euromaidan News and Analysis [uk, en]. The process is very decentralized with volunteers not only carrying out translations but also suggesting fresh content.
Description on Maidan Needs Translators page reads:
Looking for those who are willing to translate for us and native speakers to proof-read. All help will be appreciated!
The pages that coordinate translations gathered hundreds of likes in just the first two days. Throughout the mass Euromaidan rally of December 8, Facebook volunteers played an important role, offering real-time translations of important news and developments.
The European Commission will stop financing Presseurop, the largest news website on European affairs on December 22. The website curates the top international news and translate it in 10 different languages. Readers can share and comment the news in the language of their choice thanks to its multilingual platform [fr]. The blog Décrypter la communication européenne worries [fr] that this decision is symptomatic of the increasing isolation of European affairs in the media. An online petition to support Presseurop can be found here.
“Arabic is the seventh most spoken language by Internet users but only three per cent of digital content on the web comprises of Arabic material,” estimate experts. Among the most frequent web usages is sharing text, through Pastebin and similar services. Yet these do not properly support Arabic text. Developed by Egyptian Mostafa Hussein (@moftasa), Nota aims at bridging this gap:
Nota has a single purpose and that is to help people share any amount of Arabic text quickly and easily. Text is presented in a clear, distraction free and beautiful way and is highly accessible. There is no need to sign up or register. It will also remain ad free, free of charge and open source.
Nota's source code is on GitHub.
Sociologist, poet, and blogger Guillermo Rebollo-Gil wrote an open letter on his blog to U.S. President Barack Obama in which he calls for the release of Oscar López Rivera, one of the longest-held political prisoners ever. The letter has quickly gone viral over the past two days.
Oscar López Rivera has been in prison for 32 years already, convicted of “seditious conspiracy”, even though it was never proven that he was involved in any violent activity, nor was he convicted of crimes that resulted in death or injury to anyone. After expressing great disillusionment with President Obama's administration, Rebollo-Gil writes:
Over the last three plus decades, five different Presidents have been sworn into office. I wonder if it would be possible for you to consider standing out amongst them. I wonder if you would be interested in imbuing your presidency with historical significance in the form of a direct action to assuage this injustice perpetrated by the American government. I wonder if you would be interested in affirming the fundamental American principle of freedom and grant a pardon to Mr. López Rivera. I really hope so. At all times.
Guillermo Rebollo-Gil's letter has been widely shared on social media and was republished on the online journal 80 grados [es].
In the last 20 years, 670 journalists have been killed in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to delegates from the IFEX-ACL alliance, which recently presented their Annual Report on Impunity 2013: “Faces and Traces of Freedom of Expression in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The crimes — most of which remain unsolved — have turned impunity into the biggest threat to freedom of expression in the region.
Silvia Higuera summarizes the report in the Knight Center's Journalism in the Americas Blog. She adds:
According to the report, Latin America is going through a crucial moment for freedom of expression. Depending on the place, journalists face threats from criminal groups or institutional weaknesses. Many countries are also going through controversial legal processes that could limit freedom of the press. Public officials continue to use defamation lawsuits to silence the press, and historically vulnerable sectors — like indigenous groups — remain unable to participate openly in public interest issues.
Since the government announced the decision to shut the broadcaster down on November 5, the journalists have been running both the radio and TV stations. For the moment, the workers are resisting letting the police enter the TV station and though the broadcast has been interrupted, they continue to broadcast online. Also, Catalan public television TV3 is broadcasting the Valencian TV signal.
Valencia is one of the Spanish regions with the most corruption scandals, and the gesture of the governing party sending the police in the middle of the night to occupy the media stations has awoken unpleasant memories of Franco‘s fascist dictatorship throughout the mid-20th century.
A series of debates and workshops dedicated to the democratization of the media, digital radio, cryptography and surveillance, among other digital activism issues, starts tomorrow, November 26, in Rio de Janeiro. The Semana de Mídias Livres (Free Media Week) [pt] gathers three events in one until November 30: the second international conference Spectrum, Society and Communication (ESC2), a meeting organized by the Rizoma de Rádios Livres (Rhizome of Free Radios) [pt], and the third Copyfight meeting, that stated in a release note:
O foco desta edição são os novos desafios da cultura livre em um contexto de crescente insurgência nas redes e nas ruas, assim como questões relevantes no contexto da luta pela democratização da comunicação no Brasil.
The focus of this edition will be given to the new challenges of free culture in a context of growing insurgency in the networks and on the streets, as well as relevant issues in the context of the struggle for democratization of communication in Brazil.
All the activities will be livestreamed in the website of the event.
Workers who cut sugarcane and other crops in the coastal lowlands of Central America are being hit by a mysterious disease:
From Panama to southern Mexico, laborers are coming down with kidney failure at rates unseen virtually anywhere else in the world. Families and villages are being devastated by the loss of nearly entire generations of men.
Since 2000, chronic kidney disease has killed more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the two countries that are by far the worst-hit by the disease.
Rigorous scientific investigation has only just begun in the communities hit by the epidemic, and relatively few facts have been established, but scientists are coming up with what they believe to be a credible hypothesis. They say the roots of the epidemic appear to lie in the grueling nature of the work performed by its victims.
Esteban Félix, a Peruvian photographer from the Associated Press, documented the effect of the epidemic in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, one of the most affected communities.
Thanks to his work, Félix received the Gabriel García Marquez Prize for Journalism [es] this year in the Journalistic Image category.
In this video, edited by Alba Mora (@albamoraroca) with music by Dan Bality, Félix tells the stories behind the photos that he took during his stay at Chichigalpa. In his own words, Félix summarizes:
Uno trabaja para vivir, pero en realidad esta gente trabaja para morir.
Some people work to live, but here, people work to die.
A new multimedia project called Exposing the Invisible tells the stories of activists, hackers and journalists who work “at the new frontiers of investigation.” Through short films and text, the digital project by Tactical Technology Collective explores the missions of these experts and the tools they use to carry out their exposés.
The first film is about Paul Radu, a Romanian investigative journalist specialized in reporting on crime and corruption in the Balkans. (Subtitles in five different languages are also available.)
Tessa Houghton shares the findings of a study which monitored media bias in Malaysia during the 13th General Elections a few months ago:
Malaysian citizens who relied on English and Bahasa Malaysia newspapers and/or television as their media source/s during the GE13 campaign were not provided with fair and accurate information with which to construct informed voting preferences, with clear voting patterns emerging along these strata of info-communicative diversity and scarcity, and the media used more as a tool of division than of reconciliation.
A new “underground” newspaper called “Vigilant Citizen”, launched in Mozambique on the eve of elections, is being shared in .PDF by the blog Moçambique para Todos [pt]. Its cover carries the iconic image of protesters with the poster “Who keeps voting for these guys?”
David Bandurski from China media project looked into the media policy of the new leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, in particular after the Third Plenum meeting. Against the background of the setting up of a new national security committee, the question to be addressed is:
How might the Party re-tool and redefine its approach to the internet and social media in light of its shifting approach to national security?
Colin Meyn explains how the ‘rapid spread of social media is altering Cambodia’s political landscape.’ The young electorate desirous of change plus the aggressive campaigning of the opposition in the Internet made a huge impact in the recent elections. Interestingly, the Prime Minister also mentioned Facebook several times in his first major speech during the opening of the parliament: “The government has no policy to close Facebook, but I would like to appeal to people not to let Facebook become a tool to damage social stability and insult people.”
Epitomized by racial taunts [fr] towards the French Guiana-born Minister of Justice Christine Taubira on the cover of the weekly newspaper Minute, many observers bemoan the rise of racist behaviors [fr] in France. One of those observers is Harry Roselmack, a prominent reporter born in Martinique, who wrote an editorial in which he opines that the current atmosphere in France reduces his citizenship to the color of his skin [fr]:
Ce qui me chagrine, c'est le fond de racisme qui résiste au temps et aux mots d'ordre, pas seulement au sein du FN, mais au plus profond de la société française. C'est un héritage des temps anciens, une justification pour une domination suprême et criminelle : l'esclavage et la colonisation. [..] Tant que l'on laissera ces peaux de Banania traîner dans nos cerveaux, des glissades et dérapages vers l'injure raciste sont à craindre. Surtout par les temps qui courent, avec cette crise qui alimente la xénophobie de son bien étrange carburant : la jalousie envers plus mal loti que soi.
What saddens me is that there are remnants of racism that presevere through time and political correctness, not only within the FN party (ed's note: a far right political party) but also deep within the French society. This is a legacy from an ancient time, a justification of a supreme and criminal oppressive era : slavery and colonization. [..] As long as we leave banana peels hanging around in our brains, slides and skids and tumbles to racist insults are bound to happen. Especially in these challenging times, in which economic crisis feeds the most basic xenophobia with its strangest component: jealousy towards those who are much worse off than ourselves.
You can buy the exclusive rights to such shows but you can’t do that and treat them as if they’re the kind of traditional uni-directional, analog content that’s on its way out without raising the ire of your viewers.
Although K-drama (South Korean soap opera) seems doing well internationally, South Koreans’ discontent and complaints on its repeated patterns and cliched scenarios and characters are bubbling under. Recently, as major network TV, KBS decided to extend a poorly-written soap opera ‘Princess Aurora’ which many call an ‘insult to viewers’ intelligence', net users have started gathering signatures. And this rather unusual online petition [ko] calling to end the show and overthrow an extremely powerful screenwriter, Im Sung-han, is gaining traction; the first round of petition already surpassed its target of 10 thousand signatures in about a week, and seven thousands have signed in its second round.
White Africa thinks about blogging at WordCamp Kenya 2013
Today finds me in Nanyuki, Kenya at WordCamp Kenya 2013. The past couple years, I’ve been traveling during the event, but this year I get to come hang out with my blogging brothers and sisters.
As I was thinking about what to talk about, I thought I’d cover four areas:
Why we blog
My rules for blogging
3 things that are bothering me in the Kenyan blogosphere
Using blogging as a tool
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas [es], with the support of Google [es], will be offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Spanish for journalists and student interested in learning about creating new online projects and generating audiences and revenue.
Furthermore, as the announcement about the course explains,
Google's support will allow the course to be complimented with a special scholarship to recognize the best projects developed or perfected during the MOOC. The Google-Knight Center scholarship will be offered to at least six participants from Latin America and will consist in a trip to Austin, Texas to attend two digital journalism conferences that the Knight Center will host in April 2014.
The course runs from November 18 to December 15, 2013.
On November 5, 2013, Hungarian Parliament adopted changes to the country's Criminal Code regarding potentially defamatory video or audio recordings. The new changes to this law include penalties such as imprisonment of up to three years for making such materials public. The longest prison sentence relates to materials published to a “wide audience” and, according to the OSCE and others, this directly targets the media. Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, made an official statement on November 6, 2013, stressing concerns regarding the new laws and how they will impact journalism and media freedom. Ms. Mijatović said:
These amendments to the penal code can further restrict media freedom. The penalties for publishing defamatory recordings are disproportionate and may lead to the silencing of critical or differing views in society.[...]
These measures are excessive as they can have a chilling effect on investigative journalism and prevent satirical expression and critical points of view from being disseminated.[...]
Hungarian legislation already includes provisions to protect human dignity and penalize the fabrication of facts. Instead of adding new ways to chill public discourse and curb media freedom, Hungary should eliminate existing legal obstacles to media freedom.
Blogger Wirriyamu mourns the two French journalists killed [fr] in Kidal, Mali. But beside his immense sadness, Wirriyamu also feels angry at seeing Northern Mali left helpless yet again to terrorists attacks. He writes [fr] about his silent anger at the situation there :
Tant qu’il ne sera pas possible de patrouiller dans Kidal, tant que cette ville ne sera pas réellement dans une situation normale, ce genre d’assassinat continuera hélas à être possible. Si la paix doit avoir pour prix cette zone de non droit, alors (que les maliens me pardonnent) nous devons y renoncer au moins momentanément.
As long as the army is not allowed to patrol in Kidal, this type of assassination will continue to happen. If there were to be real peace in this stateless zone, the price to pay (May my Malian friends forgive me) might be to renounce peace temporarily.
The blog Repeating Islands republished two letters to the editor of the New York Times that paint two very different pictures on the situation regarding the recent decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic to strip citizenship from all descendants of immigrants who entered the country extralegally, retroactive to 1929. The first letter is from Aníbal de Castro, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Washington, who considers the Dominican Republic unduly pressured by the international community:
The Dominican Republic has a legitimate interest in regulating immigration and having clear rules for acquisition of citizenship. It should not be pressured by outside actors and other countries to implement measures contrary to its own Constitution and that would be unacceptable to most other nations facing similar immigration pressures.
The second letter is signed jointly by authors Mark Kurlansky, Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, and Julia Álvarez, who dispel the assurances of the ambassador that no one will be negatively affected by the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling:
The ruling will make it challenging for them to study; to work in the formal sector of the economy; to get insurance; to pay into their pension fund; to get married legally; to open bank accounts; and even to leave the country that now rejects them if they cannot obtain or renew their passport. It is an instantly created underclass set up for abuse.
Abeng News magazine reports that the Caribbean has some of the lowest savings rates in the world.
It took ten years for women's magazine Allure's Korean edition to finally have a Korean cover model. James Turnbull explains in the Grand Narrative blog that the reason lies in Korean readers taste who prefer foreign, Caucasian cover models.
Citing certain violations of the Electoral Law in the social media, the election commission of India has issued some guidelines for the use of Social Media for election campaigning. Nikhil Pahwa at Medianama analyses the guidelines.
Photographer Eric Gourlan spent over a month in prisons in Kyrgyzstan, documenting the life of both inmates and guards. Photographs he took there provide a rare “view from the inside” the country's prison system. Kloop.kg publishes some of the remarkable photos that are now displayed at a museum in Bishkek.
The documentary film below also features Gourlan's photographs, offering a unique glimpse into the life of children, women, and men behind bars in the Central Asian nation. The film is mostly in Russian, but has English subtitles.
As the “50 member-committee” meets to amend Egypt's constitution, some civil society organizations and urban activists participated in producing what they called the “urban constitution document” [Ar]:
We present this document to “50 member-committee” as a comprehensive suggestion for articles we see important in being added to the constitution. What's more important is that we present it to all Egyptian people to work together and unify our efforts to see these rights becoming a reality.
Join us in adopting these rights, share it all over your neighborhoods, regions, villages and cities. Join the debate to improve the document. At the end, if you agree with it and the rights it presents, sign the document and help us gather signatures through spreading the word all over Egypt to make this a popular demand.
The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a bill [ja] on October 25, 2013 to impose tougher penalties on civil servants, lawmakers and others who leak national secrets and harm national security. The so-called Secret Information Protection Act has been unpopular among Japanese press, human rights advocates, and citizens who fear that the government would conceal radiation information.
Information security law expert Lawrence Repeta examines potential risks of this bill such as right to access information in comparison with the American cases of Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.
Before the bill was approved, the government accepted comment from the public, and among 90,480 comments submitted in a two-week span in early September, 69,579 were against the bill. The bill awaits the approval of parliament.
Future Places, a former digital media festival that is turning into a “media lab for citizenship” for its sixth edition, will take place in Porto, Portugal, from October 28 to November 2, 2013.
“A festival without an audience, where everyone who is present participates and discovers in real time ways of collaborating”, explained curator Heitor Alvelos in an inspiring closing note [pt] of 2012′s edition, recalling the ongoing motto since 2008 ”technology are potential tools for the emancipation of citizens”:
não subscrevemos o paradigma que está por detrás da instantaneidade vertiginosa e auto-referente dos gadgets digitais. Queremos usá-los, sim, mas recusamos a amnésia que muitas vezes transportam e induzem. Queremos simultaneamente honrar uma herança histórica, analógica, que atribui sentido e explica o que somos hoje; queremos cultivar a determinação que permite revoluções lentas, mudanças de paradigma a longo prazo; e participando em actos de contestação ao que é socialmente injusto, queremos simultaneamente propor.
we do not endorse the paradigm that lies behind the dizzying instantaneity and self-reference of digital gadgets. We want to use them, yes, but we refuse the amnesia that they often carry and induce. We both honor a historic and analog inheritance which gives sense and explains what we are today; we want to cultivate the determination that allows for slow revolutions, paradigm shifts in the long term; and while actively contesting what is socially unjust, we want to simultaneously make proposals.
The event will bring together scholars, artists, scientists and technologists for a week of practices and debate on digital media. A series of citizen labs will offer workshops on stopmotion, music, gaming, photography, and more.