Archive for the 'CAPPUCINO' Category

A weirdly beautiful day… for a strike (GFMD08, Day 3)


There is a general strike scheduled in Athens today, and the weather this morning was stunningly beautiful – cool and sunny. I admit I only stuck my head out the door, don’t have the stamina of my younger colleagues who’ve been going for long runs at 6 every morning. If I make it to breakfast and the 9 AM session I’m proud of myself.

(I’m in Athens, at the Global Forum for Media Development, nearly 400 people from around the world who work to support media in their own country or others, you can watch webcast here: or follow #GFMD08. Warning – liveblogging ahead, inaccuracies and typos guaranteed.)

Right now, I’m in a 9th floor hotel conference room that might as well be in Indianapolis, listening to Wally Dean explain the Committee for Concerned Journalists project to train people based on the Elements of Journalism. But imagining how many Athenian college students are waking up this sunny morning and planning to go throw more rocks, or as I saw on TV last night, rotten eggs. And worrying about the mood of the police, who since the shooting of the teenager that sparked this, have been on a tight rein. One TV analyst (I’ve been flipping between France24 and CNN for my English-language news, so can’t remember which it was) pointed out that the slim chance the current government has of staying in power will evaporate if there’s any serious police violence against the protestors.

The training Wally does is fascinating, forcing US local TV newsroom to ask themselves questions like: “We lead every night with crime stories, is that a reflection of the community you all live in?” “Where does this story really take place and are you there? Have you ever been there?” (Wally gives the example from his own career, says he’s reported dozens of stories about legislation about prison issues, never setting foot in a prison). The amazing thing about the work Wally’s doing is that it’s based on research correlating ratings and content analysis from over 2000 local newscasts. It’s deeply surprising stuff, impossible to do justice to in a blog post. The book is called “We Interrupt this Newscast” suggests that even in a profit-driven environment good journalism thrive, that audiences in fact crave substantially reported, non-sensational TV news. If there were a way to force every local commercial station manager in the country to read the book and act on it, it would be invaluable.

Meanwhile, a couple of my colleagues have taken time away from being media support organizations to be journalists. Sameer Padania, who runs the Hub, went out on Monday night. The raw footage he took of demonstrations is on YouTube. Oleg Panfilov, who directs the Center for Journalists in Extreme Situations, took some still photos which he will upload soon to his blog. She’s not here in Greece with us (Solana, we miss you!) but Global Voices’ Solana Larsen has gathered some nice citizen media coverage of the riots here.

Finally, a couple of super-cynical journalists (who shall remain nameless) over drinks last night agreed that with such a small body count, the story wouldn’t get “much ink” (always waiting for the digital media replacements for these phrases) in the US news media.

Public Anger
Uploaded on December 7, 2008
by murplej@ne – under deconstruction

Threats to journalists (GFMD08, cont.)


The International News Safety Institute is leading an excellent session on how media development organizations should include education and other efforts to help keep journalists safe, but the Internet access is too spotty and my battery is dying, so that’s all I’ll tell you now.

(I’m in Athens, at the Global Forum for Media Development, nearly 400 people from around the world who work to support media in their own country or others, you can watch webcast here: or follow #GFMD08. Warning – liveblogging ahead, inaccuracies and typos guaranteed.)

Access and Voice in New Technology – GFMD08


Access and Voice in New Technology – Athens, Greece December 8, 2008

James Deane, Head of Policy Development, BBC World Service Trust is trying to get a group of folks who mostly work with legacy media to talk about online media. Ivan Sigal, executive director of Global Voices, talks about the challenge of working for an audience that is dispersed and fragmented.

(I’m at the Global Forum for Media Development, nearly 400 people from around the world who work to support media in their own country or others, you can watch webcast here: or follow #GFMD08. Warning – liveblogging ahead, inaccuracies and typos guaranteed.)

Ivan Sigal is explaining Global Voices and the challenges of serving an audience online. James asks how they’re going to sustain the work. Ivan says it’s very tough, they’re working on building on their community-driven project to make a new strategy.

Eduardo Avila explains Voces Bolivianas, a project to get marginalized people in Bolivia blogging. James askes about whether this work is staying in the blogosphere or is it being picked up in mainstream media? Eduardo says it’s getting out more in the developed world, because he is Global Voices editor and features the work of Voces Bolivianas there so more people know Christina (Bolivian blogger) outside Bolivia than in.

Ivan argues for the “network effect” thinking of information as a process. The reason Global Voices wanted to here at GFMD was to try to figure out how to build links between blogs and community media.

Someone brings up the issue of how individuals get privileged to be speakers.

Jane Ransom of International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) says there has been too little attention to the role of gender not enough info. She is glad to see projects like Eduardo’s bringing women’s and other marginalized voices online. What happens when the 1000 blooming flowers of the blogosphere begin to be aggregated? Will we be careful enough to preserve women’s leadership?

Whether Blogher is a women’s movement or a bloggers’ movement. James Deane says but why didn’t the women’s movement take root on the ‘net? Jane Ransom – I don’t think there’s a global women’s equality movement on the Internet – someone contradict me if I’m wrong. But I don’t think that means there’s something wrong.

Ivan brings us back to the role of institutions or movements in the citizen media environment.

Ying Chan from Hong Kong University is showing some wonderful information on the media and Internet in China. A hysterical story about a picture of a supposedly extinct tiger that turned out to be stolen from a calendar. See the story here. And much more serious stories about citizen reporters reporting on injustice of many kinds. Workers in brick kilns held in slavery were rescured thanks to a letter by a parent on the Internet saying I’m looking for my child that helped break the case. It’s so moving to hear about these stories from other countries – the former Soviet region I’ve spent so much time with feels so tired and cynical.

She says the government and Internet users are in a game of “spy vs. spy.” They change their blocking and filtering techniques, we go around them, they learn new ones.Troy from USAID asks about journalistic standards and market forces. Chan: you can’t expect market forces alone to give us good journalism in any medium. She mentions the work of Global Network Initiative (which both Internews and Berkman both are part of, along with many other fine organizations) to get corporations to agree to ethical principles about user privacy, freedom of expression, etc.

Chan: we don’t have enough civil society institutions paying attention to what’s happening on the Internet, what’s happening on the ‘net is very raw, it has the best and the worst of everything. But there need to be more intervention there.

Laura Stein from Internews DC asks what should local legacy media do in relationship to citizen journalism/blogs? Should media development be looking at the Global Voices model, getting local media to work with more with online media, as aggregators?

Ivan Sigal – yes! In fact, why talk about new and old media any more (GO IVAN!) we need to look at values and audiences everything is converging. Some citizen media will take on the values and functions of traditional journalism and vice versa.

Masha Rasner says what about former Soviet Union, no one ever talks about them and citizen media, are they behind the curve? (Masha: for Russia, the answer is no, they’re totally active, they just don’t bother promoting themselves in the West, because they don’t need the West. Other countries like Georgia ARE, by all accounts, behind.) Woman from Panos says yes, let’s have a lunch discussion tomorrow about this.

James wrapping up asks Chan to wrap up and talk about the next 5 years in China. Chan: Ivan’s right it’s not new and old it’s digital media. I’m an optimist. There are many examples of the best invtigative reporting in China being digital media, they are a driving force for traditional media, in spite of stepped up government control. The technology is so powerful and people’s desire for information is irrestible.

Someone from Nepal – we can’t look that far ahead, the euphoria of freedom is fading, we’ll soon be in a situation where we need the digital media as in Burma, China and so on to be free. The form of blogging and digital media, its immediacy and localization is really better than standard news style. It’s keeping traditional media on its toes. It’s not either/or, both sides must learn from each other.

Raising money for media assistance – GFMD08


Athens, Greece December 8, 2008

My long-time colleague and friend Manana Aslamazyan is leading a session on strategies for funding media assistance projects in the Former Soviet Union. She’s using the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) as an example.

I’m at the Global Forum for Media Development, nearly 400 people from around the world who work to support media in their own country or others, you can watch webcast here: or follow #GFMD08. Warning – liveblogging ahead, inaccuracies and typos guaranteed.

Oleg Panfilov, from the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations talks about Georgia (he is based in Moscow, but spends a lot of time in Moscow). He says there are many different layers in Georgian society: young, Western educated folks in power now and the layer of people who used to be in power who survive while the young guys were in college and between them are the journalists, who are closer to being in the older group, and how have an essentially post-Soviet attitude. He says journalism education is the key. Manana says “who will pay for it? Soros again?” Oleg is sitting next to Gordana Jankovic, head of Open Society Insitute’s (Soros) Network Media Program.

Manana – Donors funded education of journalism in our regions 15 years ago, why should they believe when we say we need it now?

Viktoria Syumar from Kyiv, says she agrees that we need new ideas. She’s says in Ukraine, having ended government censorship they now fight against “the censorship of money” that is news stories that are paid for, as PR. (Long one of my favorite themes in the development of the Western media, go Viktoria!) So she and Natalya Ligacheva (from Telekritika website) and others joined together and started monitoring the press.

Mamukha from Georgia says no amount of training can fix Georgian media because the big 3 channels are controlled by the government, and there is no transparency of media ownership

Manana-  says what about fundraising?

Viktoria – we started with no money, but soon enough people from a Western PR agency came to us and said they were interested in our project.

Manana – so if you have a good idea, and can get people to work together, just do it, and the money will come?

Ilim Karypbekov, from the Media Commissioner Institute from Kyrgyz Republic, asks is there any way for this group, this GFMD, to create with donors some kind of outside force that can influence the media magnates, oligarchs, who are ruining our media landscapes? General agreement that ex-Soviet millionaires are generally immune – though Natasha says Ukrainian oligarchs are in the metals trade, and could be influence from the outside.

Oleg Khomenok from Ukraine says the legal basis is important, not only for media but also for NGOs because too many countries’ tax legislation make it impossible for NGOs to do things that make money, which impedes them from becoming self-sustainable.

Mamukha from Georgia says transparency of media ownership is a problem, because Georgian TV controlled by government and there’s no way to know who the real owners are, so as to challenge them. Everyone agrees that it’s bad not to be able to have transparency, but it’s not a real barrier to working to support media we want to support.

Discussion about whether it’s ok to take money from the government for projects. Agreement that it’s very dangerous, too much corruption.

Oleg Khomenok (Ukraine) talks about the need for media literacy. Media work with people and advertisers both. We need to teach the audience how to know when they’re being lied to (meaning paid news) so that the market for such stuff goes away.

Manana – media literacy is important I agree but I worry that it’s a fad, we’re all going to submit projects on media literacy. Also, I think we have to talk about strategies including understanding what other NGO’s already do things better than you and collaborate with them.

I make my plea for people to pay attention to what the audience actually needs, not what journalists need or what media NGOs need.

Manana agrees that we need to think first about our real mission not about how to keep our organizations alive, ask Gordana Jankovic to speak.

Manana sums up says sadly I don’t think most of us will go to a website listing good projects (an idea that was raised, as it inevitably is in such forums). That’s why the GFMD is so vital – face to face discussion is really important.

Gordana, who’s one of the smartest media donors around, says she’s a little sad that there is so much attention here to fundraising, though of course she understands that it’s a huge problem for everyone. She’d like to see a group that is this diverse, with so many international and local organizations working on the same things and all competiing with each other, often the big ones swallowing the little ones. I’d like to see the media assistance sector work out some ethical standards, to structure itself as a sector and unfortunately I don’t see that in the program of this forum. But I know this session is on fundraising.

Working for an organization that is funded by one private person for 16 years, of course I have to take into account the interests of our founder (George Soros). Having participated in many many donors’ forums over the years, I think that projects that have real long-term trategies that take into account the political realities eventually get funded, but there’s still a problem for us as funders that we can’t fund the same organizations forever. Our organization wants to go global, we’re under pressure to work in new countries, so I’m often frustrated and even embarrassed in front of many of you in this room when I know you are doing important work and we can’t keep funding you.

But there are things you can do to help us – work together, come to us with coordinated proposals.

Manana tries to wrap up a fairly frustrating discussion. Meanwhile, Shorena Shaverdashvili, publisher of the Georgian magazine Hot Chocolate, pops up on Skype with the following:

Shorena Shaverdashvili – 5 of us in the “georgian media” are thinking of emigrating
Persephone Miel-where to?

Shorena Shaverdashvili – we are soo fustrasted! anywhere! out of here! it’s hopeless. the public broadcaster just started a new season and it’s unbelievable.  What causes desparation is that the quality of broadcasting is getting worse and worse. You should see the new programming on the 1st channel. It’s beyond commentary and they are dragging the whole media behind. There are only 2 options – you either completely disregard the tv media and try to work on your own audience and niche.

Meanwhile, a Western funder who kept her mouth shut is very frustrated. She says “isn’t it a no-brainer for these NGOs in each country to work together?” I say, yes, but the same could be said about American nonprofits in any field, no? Never mind academia! Sigh.

Yay Broadband!


The New America Foundation and many other folks today put out what they’re calling “A National Broadband Strategy Call to Action.” I bring it to your attention because I think that they are right that making affordable high-speed broadband Internet available to everyone in the United States (not just Americans, btw) should be a top priority for the Obama administration. I even agree with many of their arguments:

“Too many Americans still do not have access to affordable broadband or lack the equipment or knowledge to use it effectively…Throughout our history, the United States has adopted policies to maximize the benefits of major technological advances.  In the 19th century, we promoted the development of canals, railroads, and electric power.  In the 20th century, we instituted policies to expand electric power and
national telephone and highway systems, and we transported people to the moon and back.  Now,
in the 21st century, it is time to adopt a National Broadband Strategy that builds on this tradition…  The federal government, in collaboration with state and local governments and the private sector, should play an
active role in stimulating broadband deployment, particularly in unserved areas.”

But, as those who know much more than I do have pointed out, the full Call to Action doesn’t  go nearly far enough. Several colleagues from the Berkman Center commented:

“It’s pretty good, all things considered, but I’d be a lot happier if it made some attempt (even with caveats like the “to the maximum feasible extent” language) to explicitly address net neutrality, non-discrimination, privacy, etc.”

“My only problem with the statement is that it punts on the hard issues, and thus says just about nothing except ‘Yay broadband!’
– The network management clause seems designed to allow for non-neutrality.
– It does not say a word about whether our current infrastructure is the right one for achieving the goals. Status quo? Throw the rascals out? Invest in new approaches? Go fiber? Go open spectrum? Private-public partnerships? Structural separation? (It does call for the “efficient use of spectrum,” but that could be taken as an argument for OR against white spaces, for example.) This is the opposite of a Bold Call to Action. Frankly, I’m hoping for more from the Obama administration. “

“Keep in mind that this is coming from a very diverse group, including AT&T and NCTA (Cable’s trade association).  About the best you could hope for out of that crowd is “Yay, broadband.”  So, yes, it’s pretty watered down and non-specific.

That being said, simply stating that broadband is important and is a priority is a good thing.  It is a call to action without specifying what exactly the action should be. I would certainly hope that the new Administration would be able to say something more concrete about their policy goals.”

So, New America Foundation and company – keep up the good work. There are lots of folks who need to hear this.

Obama tech team – we expect you to be BOLDER than a coalition of communications providers, high technology companies, manufacturers, consumers, labor unions, public interest groups, educators, state and local governments, utilities, content creators, foundations, and other stakeholders in America’s broadband future.

Image: Inside a broadband router (blueish general view)
Uploaded on March 30, 2007

by jepoirrier

Vote for human rights media!


I care about journalists and human rights

Just a few hours left to cast your vote for the audience award for next Saturday’s Every Human Has Rights Media Awards. There are 30 finalists, and the professional jury has already made its choices. The contest is part of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The stories are not cheerful – the first few I looked at included torture, rape, and child labor – maybe a good excuse to remind ourselves of everything we have to be thankful for this weekend.

Above, a photo from a story by Mario Magalhaes in Folha de S. Paulo on the slave-like conditions of sugar cane workers in Brazil. I’ll be at the awards ceremony on Saturday, looking forward to meeting the 30 finalists from around the world. They’re doing God’s work (despite my deep atheism, I have no good replacement for that phrase – suggestions welcome).

Tent cities and micro-funded journalism


I’ve long been a fan of David Cohn’s, so after reading this note he sent to a journalism mailing list we’re both on:

“I strongly believe that it is up to the citizens of a city to ensure that journalism continues by either donating time or money. Both are helpful.

Take Spot.Us: We have one pitch which is just $135 shy of being fully funded! It’s a good story too – on the rise of tent cities during this economic crisis.

All we need is 13 or so citizens to stand up and make a difference by donating $10. I have to believe those people are there – which means that instead of paying for the large overhead of a newspaper – all the money will towards the reporting (the important part). Currently most newspaper budgets only give 10-25% of their budget towards actual reporting.” (by the way, this note was part of a discussion started by Aldon Hynes’ interesting post on the possibility of 2 Connecticut papers closing.)

Wednesday night I went to the site and found that the story was by then just $35 dollars away from being funded. Story sounded interesting, and I was further attracted by the “tent city” hook because I live in a wonderful non-profit housing development in Boston called Tent City (created 40 years ago after a successful affordable housing protest), so I pulled out my credit card and contributed the missing money.

Then yesterday I got a call from a producer at WGBH’s Greater Boston who’d read Mark Glaser’s excellent piece on crowd-funding journalism and was doing a segment for today’s show on the topic and wanted to know what inspired me, in Boston, to contribute to a journalist writing a story in California.

So if you haven’t yet thought about what might inspire you to contribute to funding the journalism you want to see – now’s the time. Crowd-funding of journalism is in the air.

How to bypass Internet Censorship


Building on the excellent work of OpenNet Initiative as well as many other folks here at Berkman and beyond, the wonderful folks at FLOSS Manuals, have just released a terrific new manual intended to help people use some of the tools and techniques available to circumvent blocking and filtering of the Internet.

You can download it for free at their site, or you can buy a copy via!

Tbilisi ho!


Writing from the Greenport cafe in Ataturk International Airport (Istanbul), leaving in a bit for Tbilisi, where I’ll work with my old friends from Internews for a bit to think about what kind of projects might help develop good journalism in post-conflict Georgia.

Will try to post some stuff from there, meanwhile, Ivan Sigal wrote some good stuff when he was here a few weeks ago on Burning Bridge Blog.

UPDATE from my hotel – The new (since I was last here) statue of St. George is blinding. Drove by it on the way from the airport.

Tbilisi, Uploaded August 21, 2007 by miss_rubov

Whose information is it? (Schultze lunch talk)


In honor of Open Access Day (who knew there was such a thing?) my fellow fellow Stephen Schultze gave a great talk at lunch today on what he calls his “glorified pet peeve” — Open Access to Government Documents. Actually of course the talk was really about the lack thereof, in the United States. (below pseudo-live blogging, inaccuracy, inarticulate and incomplete – please go to Berkman site and watch the video to get the real thing)

Although, as Steve points out, per Section 105 of US Copyright Law, “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government,” this has not meant in practice that they are freely available.

He cites 3 examples, all really interesting.

1) CRS – the Congressional Research Service

We pay for it, it does vast amounts of research on many topics for Congress, its reports by definition are not copyrighted and are frequently made public yet it does its best to keep its work limited to Congress. Steve notes that the problem with this is not only only that the public doesn’t benefit from all this work (as someone in the auience points out, the folks who work at CRS are desperate to circulate their stuff, to give meaning to their work) it’s that what happens is that the CRS reports are made public selectively. They tend to get leaked to lobbyists and others with good connections and used to support specific positions. Not so good. In April 2007, CRS director wrote (see Secrecy News blog post with link to the internal memo) defending their reasons for not making CRS reports public, which boiled down to they are worried that if their work were public, they would come under political pressure.
Meanwhile, a couple of places do publish them – one is Penny Hill Press, which charges money for them (something like $30/report) but is complete and easy to search. Then there is Open CRS, a project of the  Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), whose database is free but not complete.

We discuss briefly why CDT doesn’t just buy the reports from Penny Hill and post them. Apparently, Penny Hill’s contracts forbid subscribers from re-publishing the reports.

Example 2 – Oregon State Codes

Steve tells the story of, whose director Carl Malamud is one of Steve’s heroes it would seem. They were sued by State of Oregon for publishing the Oregon statutes online  not for the text which is of course non-copyrightable, but for the formatting, etc. Steve plays video of Carl testifying as to why it is ludicrous that the laws that rule our lives should not be freely available. The deal is that Oregon had been selling the codes both to Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw as well as in books. They gave up on this case (and presumably on the Lexis and Westlaw revenues.

This all sounds so bizarre to me after my time in the democracy industry, where one of the things we tried to promote to ostensibly less-wonderful governments was e-government, which was meant to promote transparency. Apparently we don’t practice what we preach. I’m learning so much about the Untied STates here at Berkman.

Now to number 3 Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) (which is nearly the same as Case Management Electronic Case Files CM/ECF)

It’s a system to provide access to documents from Federal court cases. It’s separate for every court, so you have to know which court’s records you want. You have to give them a credit card to login but the first $10/year of documents are free, at $.08/page, which for a minute sounds like it might be enough for personal use.  But Steve does an excellent demo of just how easy it is to rack up charges, just about everything costs a few pennies, even figuring out what you’re looking for. (He explains that his obsession with this moved from pet peeve to “glorified pet peeve” partly after a wrong click on PACER led him to receive 100s of links, costing him several dollars  for things he didn’t actualy need/want)

In fact, PACER is mostly used by and useful to, lawyers with budgets. Again, the Public.Resource folks are doing God’s work, they encourage people to “recycle” their docs by sending them in and making them available, and our own CMLP also shares PACER docs they buy.

Steve points out how nonsensical the fee structure is – the 8 cents isn’t what the system needs to cover their costs of copying an electronic page. In fact the JITF (Judiciary Information Technology Fund) had a huge, $100 million surplus.

Steve gives a lot more detail and insight into why the folks in charge of PACER and other systems might be worried about (people re-writing and misrepresenting laws or other gov’t info and personal privacy being the two most salient – he notes that these are very real but that they have been solved in other arenas) and a couple of people discuss European examples. Apparently the E-government law of 2002 doesn’t give enough detail on how this stuff should work. So the question is where is the most effective place to put pressure to make these things happen and getting it paid for. Steve notes that getting Congress to do something about it is probably the hardest way that it might be easier in some strange way to look for commercial sponsors (this database of Massachusetts court cases brought to you by Dewey, Cheatham and Howe?)

Fascinating stuff, a bit depressing to me thinking of all those smart people at CDT, Sunlight Foundation, Public.Resource and so on having to do so much hard work to undo the stupidities that we have paid various branches of our government to do. At least it’s easier to do the work free a court document than, say, a prisoner in Guantanamo.

American Freedom
by Freedom Toast

Freedom & Truth
by nati