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March 10, 2005

From Raleigh to Riyad: Bridging the Communication Gap

Creative Policy Debate Question 1

The large discrepancy in Middle Eastern vs. Western perceptions of the War on Terror can be dramatized by the dramatically different news coverage from sources like FOX and Al Jazeera. A single event such as the US Marine assault in Fallujah can be interpreted differently depending on whether the audience is in Raleigh, North Carolina or Riyad, Saudi Arabia.

While media plays a huge role in shaping public opinion, Open Societies must respect independent media, especially in the Middle East. Should policy makers use engagement mechanisms such as PR try to influence media coverage on events in the Middle East? How? How should policy makers tackle the broad gap in understanding between Western and Middle Eastern audiences?

Participants in the From Raleigh to Riyad: Bridging the Communication Gap Creative Debate

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Comments

[Mario Bettencourt Resendes]

Some governments tend to be more tolerant of terrorism than others. But blind violence against innocent people should be an absolute standard.

Competition in journalism between journalists can lead to practices that tend to be an objective collaboration with the propaganda of terrorism.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:03 PM


[Mario Bettencourt Resendes]

In an effort to be tolerant the media may have been too easy on the new laws made in the name of security. The media should be above the fray surroundng this issue. Don't be tolerant of blind violence. Don't let competition obscure the rules and standards of journalism.

Keep in mind that it should be only in extreme occasions to accept restrictions on freedom.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:05 PM


[Chis Goggans]

Do we feel that the way terrorism has been reported on has aided recruitment?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:06 PM


[Jorg Borgwardt]

Does the way we report terrorism, in particular showing graphics images, have an effect on the appeal of terrorism?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:08 PM


[Mario Bettencourt Resendes]

In Portugal, at one point coverage of suicide was reduced and it had no effect on the suicide rate.

You cannot hide life.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:09 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

Someone will eventually cover the story in the way they want with regards to the web. Some will have credibility and some won't. Credibility is earned.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:11 PM


[Daniel Schwartz]

Is there a gentlemen's agreement on what to cover?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:12 PM


[Paul Hilder]

Everyone has to try to do what they can do. Are some issues receiving less coverage? Will the media have an effect on the issues covered? It is inevitable.

Given that, how can democratic groups use the mechanism of the media effectively?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:14 PM


[Daniel Schwartz]

When the tipping point at which everyone, including the Middle East, has access, is this discussion of what to cover most?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:15 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

Civil groups should be utilizing the social or participatory media to force issues into the conversation.

For example, in Iraq during the war there was a blogger in Iraq that was able to provide a voice that the media did not have access to. This provided a window on the the human aspect, that was not getting into the media.

Extremist views are often the ones getting into the media. "Better lives" can be seen as a boring story. This may be the place for grassroots media.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:18 PM


[Jorg Borgwardt]

There are websites that give a minute by minute account of the CIA taking down the WTC. That is also a part of the social media.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:22 PM


[Kumi Naidoo]

Not everyone is engaged in the conversation. More telephone lines in Manhattan than in Sub-sahara Africa and 99% of those are in South Africa.

But we must reform mainstream media as well. There is a lack of diversity in the United States in the media. It is actually surprising that there was such a large anti-war movement in the US. CNN is on the left in the US where as it is center, maybe slightly conservative, by the world.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:25 PM


[Carlo Barton]

There is an issue of access and age with regards to social media.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:29 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

The only way that mainstream media is going to respond is with people taking a stand. Maybe webblogs aren't going to save the world, but they can provide information that falls outside the media and reach people. This will apply the only effective pressure on the media.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:31 PM


[Chris Goggans]

A lack of access in America to the facts and issues of the world is a large part of the problem. Social media can help fill this gap. The lack of exposure can send the message that Americans don't care.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:33 PM


[Paul Hilder]

Some people will want to retreat into their own world, but others will want to bridge gaps and we need to encourage that and foster opportunities.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:34 PM


[Chis Goggans]

How do you encourage someone to care?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:35 PM


[Daniel Schwartz]

Social media can help with that. That is the value of the blog sorting or referencing tools.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:36 PM


[Chis Goggans]

But how does that reach the segments that are not plugged into the new forms of media?

Shouldn't the public school system and education be the place to disseminate that message?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:37 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

Americans who care need to put their money where their mouth is regardless of what field they are in, be it educational or otherwise.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:40 PM


[Daniel Schwartz]

Is it possible to change the curriculum in rural Arkansas?

[Chis Goggans]

Even SuperSize Me didn't have a real lasting effect on McDonalds.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:43 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

How can the forces of capitalism be brought in line with the earnings pressures for large media organizations? Can we apply pressure for responsible capitalism?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:45 PM


[Kazuhisa Ogawa]

I would like to discuss the the effect on democracy and terrorism. Not just extremist arguments make it to the news, but even the way peace movements are covered may have an effect on the way people feel about them.

For example, everyone in the media in Japan, says you should not retaliate with violence against violence. But when the question is asked how to respond, there are no answers given.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:49 PM


[Paul Hilder]

There were problems in my opinion with the anti-war movement in Europe. We need to make sure that all voices are empowered.

[Carlo Barton]

How to we battle the feeling that people think that there voice isn't heard?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:51 PM


[Chis Goggans]

Unfortunately, it seems that money is what brings influence or makes influencers. Usually in the US by contributing to parties.

[Daniel Schwartz]

But, the voice of a thousand letters also has influence. In some cases more. Perhaps people should try to influence influencers.

[Paul Hilder]

This is a very American phenomenon, the way money creates influence. Not everyone has access to influencers.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:55 PM


[Kumi Naidoo]

Journalism needs to be better at gathering all of the information before putting a story out. They also need to recognize the new streams of media and particiapte and include them in how they gather facts.

Is there a hand guide to covering terrorism?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 04:57 PM


[Kazuhisa Ogawa]

There are dangers in stereotyping the participants with terrorism. Often the military is seen as bad and that can obfuscate the issue in those other situations where the military acts responsibly.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:04 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

Media brings a bias. There are journalist who are so intent on proving that the US military actions in Iraq that they are belittling the actions of Iraqis. There are reluctant to applaud or fully cover the elections for fear that it will make the US military look good.

The media needs to be better at admitting their biases. Admitting that they are human.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:06 PM


[Jorg Borgwardt] Also the pressure on speed on the media can couse inaccuracies due to biases or assumptions slip in.

[Rebecca MacKinnon] The social media can provide a fact checking element. If they are right they will get traction.

[Paul Hilder] But unfortunately most watchdogs are fairly partisian.

[Rebecca MacKinnon] Yes, but the blogs give an avenue for general experts as well, to point out where something that is being reported is egregiously false.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:09 PM


[Mr. Kazuhisa Ogawa]

Journalists are easily tricked. The US military has two courses on how to deal with journalists. There is a greater pressure on journalist to have a sound base in their field than what they are covering.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:15 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

There is a lack of information about how information gets to the public. Educated adults have no idea about the how and why of a two minute piece on CNN. How can one think critically about the product they are using if they don't know how it was made? The media contributes to that. When I was at CNN our PR was to be omnipresent and full of experts, but that isn't the truth with limited resources and people who can't find the country they are covering on a map.

It is dishonest. When the curtain is pulled back by someone else the public is shocked and loses trust with the media all together.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:19 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

This is especially true with the Middle East where the reporter does not speak Arabic and is relies heavily on the Iraqis or other locals to provide them information. A lot of time the journalists don't know if the locals have an agenda.

For example, when I was in Pakistan we hired a local journalist who spoke English to help. Does the public think that I was gatherng all this information personally? There are correspondents that never leave the hotel and let their crew canvas the locals. If that is how you are gathering your information, you should admit it.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:22 PM


[Kazuhisa Ogawa]

How does CNN cover the remote stories? Out of Atlanta?

[Rebecca MacKinnon]

I wrote my own scripts but there was pressure not to cover things that might upset the public such as deaths that occurred in the Afghan bombings. But it was a vital story in explaining feelings in Pakistan about Americans, so I kept reporting it.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:27 PM


[Carlo Barton] Perhaps what we need is a Michael Moore type documentary on how the media produces the news? Are there any out there capable of having broad appeal?

[Rebecca MacKinnon] The issue is that it is unlikely that you could get access to make one.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:29 PM


[Chris Goggans]

Educational culture plays a part in how people approach the news. Are you taught to memorize or question? This varies from country to country.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:32 PM


[Jorg Borgwardt]

One thing that is happening in Europe is bringing these issues to the students. Things like trips to Brussels. There are issues like tranparent school bags in France which touch their lives and we can encourage them to think about these issues.

> How do you address hearts and minds issues in a multi-ethnic place like France? How do you deal with the issues of hate? [Rebecca MacKinnon]

You ask them to think about tangible issues like what they can do to better understand their classmates.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:37 PM


The table is now debating what would be the one best recommendation on how to reduce terrorism that has come out of this discussion.

The four main candidates:

- Activist groups to take advantage of the media as a tool.

- Police journalism's integrity through watch dog organizations.

- Improving educational measures to make a more aware public.

- Michael Moore type movie to bring light how the media works.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:41 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

> Can we do something like reality TV to show how the media works? [Carlo Barton]

> Is there a show that fact checks the news? [Carlo Barton]

There is Factcheck.org that has had some success in that role, but the problem is that the market doesn't reward accuracy.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:46 PM


CORRECTION

> Is there a show that fact checks the news? [Kazuhisa Ogawa]

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:47 PM


[Jorg Borgwardt]

Is a reward for accuracy possible? I would assume that the media is making great profits off of the entertainment value of terorism. Is there a way that we can force time to be given to the issues of democracy as well?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:49 PM


[Comment from audience]

Terrorists are committed and the attention comes from when you see someone who is committed. That is why they get media attention. During the Civil Rights movement in the US, it was the determination of the protesters in Selma as they were attacked, captured on the news, that was the turning point.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 05:55 PM


[Rebecca MacKinnon]

The public has to push for better information. The media within the US, in contrast to the BBC, is driven by profits. Wihtout public pressure the media is not going to change.

[Kumi Naidoo]

Perhaps there needs to be a global inciative to improve journalism. To create standards and processes through which to include new technologies like blogging. Perhaps it begins with an academic study on the issue. The absence of variety in the media is a threat to democracy. Also, perhaps it is time to revisit the issue of whether public ownership is a bad thing in the media.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 06:01 PM


[Chris Goggans]

Such an iniative must come from an international level. The UN would be logical choice otherwise it's one nation's opinion on how the world should be seen.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 06:05 PM


[Paul Hilder]

A recommendation:

A global citizen campaign for diverse and high quality media addressing ownership, media practices, citizen education from childhood up, and activism enabling hitherto silent majorities to make new stories and get them heard.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop1 at March 11, 2005 06:12 PM


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