2013-09-15
1
THE RIGHT TO COMMUNICATE
Media in a development context
Graeme Addison
September 2013
FREE MEDIA
• The import...
2013-09-15
2
‘POSITIVE’ and ‘NEGATIVE’ news
President Zuma to journalism students (Sept 2013):
• South Africa needs balanc...
2013-09-15
3
NWCIO (Unesco Article 19)
• Not just the principle of free speech & association but
the process of communicat...
2013-09-15
4
IRONIES & CONTRADICTIONS
• NWICO was strongly supported by
governments in the ‘Third World’
• Many of these w...
2013-09-15
5
WSIS 2003/2005
• The World Summit on the Information Society
(WSIS) was United Nations-sponsored
• It aimed t...
2013-09-15
6
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
• Wide open media:
– Mainstream global news organisations are much more
accessible ...
2013-09-15
7
COMMUNICATOR ETHICS
• Pay close attention to:
– The victims, the poor, the disenfranchised, the
voiceless
– C...
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The right to communicate : media in development (addison 2013)

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In South Africa recently, President Jacob Zuma attacked the mainstream media for "negative" news coverage. He alleged that the claimed watchdog role of the press was a fallacy as newspaper owners were merely seeking profits. The response of some in the press was almost hysterical, calling Zuma's remarks "absurd" and demanding a retraction and apology. Though justified in criticising the President for attempting to cover up corruptioin, crime and maladministration, the response revealed serious limitations in the press itself. For decades, a global debate has raged over media misrepresentations of developing countries. Zuma was drawing on this background when he spoke. This slide presentation of mine attempts to give some context to the confrontation between the President and the press; not to excuse him (or them) but to show that there are valid reasons for doubting that the mainstream press do in fact cover the whole story of this country or any other. Ironically, it is neither governments nor the press that are fundamentally changing the situation, but the Internet and especially social media. Quite independently of any UN-sponsored efforts to bring about a New World Information & Communication Order (NWICO) or a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), global citizenry have embraced channels of communication outside of the traditional media. This more than anything has shaken the foundations of controlled communication (whether by the state or corporate organisations). Now, however, governments, corporations and criminals are doing their worst to take control of independent citizen communications and exploit social media channels for their own ends. The presentation is work in progress and was given as a short lecture at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, Johannesburg, South Africa. - Graeme Addison

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Transcript of "The right to communicate : media in development (addison 2013)"

  1. 1. 2013-09-15 1 THE RIGHT TO COMMUNICATE Media in a development context Graeme Addison September 2013 FREE MEDIA • The importance of free media for development: – Freedom encourages creativity, innovation & economic and social progress – Free inquiry highlights problems for solution – Freedom allows people to interact and solve problems – Free inquiry exposes corruption, criminality and maladministration – Public knowledge is the greatest guarantee of equity and justice
  2. 2. 2013-09-15 2 ‘POSITIVE’ and ‘NEGATIVE’ news President Zuma to journalism students (Sept 2013): • South Africa needs balanced news and positive reporting • Profit motive of media owners undermines their claim to be watchdogs, reporting is compromised Reactions: • Furious response – ‘Absurd’, demands for retractions and apology, ‘Sunshine news’, ‘Guptanews’ • Zuma’s example of ‘no crime news in Mexico’ rubbished: journalists silenced, murdered by drug gangs; not withholding news for patriotic reasons BACKGROUND TO THE DEBATE • Post World War 2: Non-aligned nations demand fair coverage by news agencies; Soviet Russia claims news should focus on development not events • 1969 – Jean D’Arcy: “The Right to Communicate” is more than a right to information • 1981 - MacBride Report for UNESCO formalises the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) • 1980s-90s – Critics hit back alleging NWICO is a bid to cover up corruption & dictatorship • 1994 – South Africa recognises freedom of expression and need for media development and diversity, creates MDDA
  3. 3. 2013-09-15 3 NWCIO (Unesco Article 19) • Not just the principle of free speech & association but the process of communication • How news is covered, what is covered, where, when, by whom, why – focusing on one-dimensional, sensational stories (eg war, corruption) • News is manufactured and commoditised for privileged consumers elsewhere • Rich-poor, North-South divide: elite news values imposed on poor and struggling societies • Cultural imperialism by the US and corporate domination of media organisations ARTICLE 19 • I.1 Pluralism – diversity • II.2 Equitable Access – fair use • II.3 Freedom to Practice One’s Culture • II.4 Right to Information • II.5 Right to Participate in Public Affairs • II.6 Restrictions on Freedom of Expression • II.7 Anonymity and freedom from unwarranted surveillance
  4. 4. 2013-09-15 4 IRONIES & CONTRADICTIONS • NWICO was strongly supported by governments in the ‘Third World’ • Many of these were oppressive, failing to deal with poverty, riddled with corruption • Politicians used NWICO to hide behind, keeping international news agencies out • But in the long term, the impact of Article 19 would bring down governments (eg Egypt) TRENDS 1990S-2000s • By the end of the 1990s much had changed • Popular democratic movements in South America and Africa unseated dictators • The Right to Communicate extends the right to information and association • Network society and the rise of the Internet made space for citizen journalism • Closed, one-way, vertical news organisations challenged by open, horizontal, interactive communication • Attack on media recognised as broadly political; media themselves had widened and deepened coverage of developing nations; independent news channels launched; much more diversity
  5. 5. 2013-09-15 5 WSIS 2003/2005 • The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was United Nations-sponsored • It aimed to bridge the global digital divide by spreading access to the Internet across the developing world • Building on Article 19 principles, it called for E- government, E-business, E-learning, E-health, E-employment, E-environment, E-agriculture, E-science MORE IRONIES • E-media developed largely independently of the officially sponsored NWCIO, so the WSIS is a late acknowledgment • Social media also arose independently and now exercise great influence on news and opinion • Both governments and corporate organisations are now trying to take control • Voices of global citizenry add new layers to older social movements including black liberation, women’s lib, disability activism, enviro campaigns • Cyber-movements are leaderless, chaotic, ephemeral, full of mixed messages • Narrow ethnicity (identity politics) and hate speech flourish in social media • The Internet is a wonderful resource for spies & criminals
  6. 6. 2013-09-15 6 WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US? • Wide open media: – Mainstream global news organisations are much more accessible today – Social media are news leaders that also highlight issues for the media agenda • Rich/poor divide persists: – Corporate media with paywalls limit access – Elite perspectives (news framing) continue to serve neoliberal values and projects – Dependence on mainstream channels is lessened but not eradicated SO IS ZUMA RIGHT? • There are many reasons why people criticise media – the limitations of ownership and profit being one • But without media businesses a major counterbalance against state power would be missing • Kneejerk reaction of some media to Zuma’s remarks shows ignorance of NWICO-WSIS/Social media trends • If journalists are terrorised into silence (as in Mexico) that is no indication of a patriotic approach to news • News is news, neither positive nor negative, but a mirror of complex social conditions and events • Communicators have a responsibility towards democracy & development – but not at the cost of truth
  7. 7. 2013-09-15 7 COMMUNICATOR ETHICS • Pay close attention to: – The victims, the poor, the disenfranchised, the voiceless – Culture, language, location, urban/rural, and other divisive factors • Be highly aware of: – Xenophobia, prejudice, hate speech, denigration of cultures, classes and peoples – Your responsibility to help others realise their right to communicate DISCUSSION • Thanks for listening • Questions • Follow up: – Graeme Addison – ngmuntu@gmail.com – http://editorial.co.za/ – +27 84 245 2490 • For the Institute of the Advancement of Journalism, Johannesburg, South Africa WHO do you serve? WHAT do you cover? WHEN do you apply your mind? WHERE do you find your stories? WHY are you a communicator? HOW do you rate yourself?

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