What is Ushahidi

 

African government has a history of avoiding media attention as media reduces their power to control over the people. In 1982 entire African continent built radio communication. It was first media communication in African. Since the establishment of radio communication African governments has been constantly censoring and checking programming that would put them in bad situation. In Kenya broadcast Centre there are two main media groups have power. Nation Media Group and Standard Group are the two most dominant in Kenya, they activate in both English and Swahili. These two groups are accredited for their efforts, skills of record for subjecting government and other authorities.

History of Ushahidi came from election of Kenya. December 27, 2007 was day of election occurred and people want Raila Odinga from the orange democratic movement party to be elected. First day of election Raila Odinga was leading over 1 million votes but was slowly merged into a small margin of victory for Mwai Kibaki. On December 30, 2007 Result of Kenya election commission declared Kibaki the winner and people start having complain about result. When people’s anger spread quickly Ministry of Security suspended all live broadcasts and the country erupted into violence. Violence filled entire country for several days and casualties from the violence was 1000 people dead and 500 were injured. Since the mainstream media was suspended and the country was in state of violence, one of the residents of Kenya Ory Okolloh suggested to make a site that would utilize civilians to track events going on throughout the county and this is how Ushahidi came out.

Ushahidi is origin from Swahili, which means testimony and witness. There are reasons why it become famous and took important role, because it is easy to use, accessible to anyone at anytime and deployable worldwide. Ushahidi was used in the democratic of Republic of Congo to avoid Kenya government interference. One of the great ability of Ushahidi is anyone can send information either through any devices with digital date connection like SMS, pictures and videos. Information uploaded every single minute and posted almost instantly on to an interactive map that can be viewed both on a computer and a smart phone. One of the advantages of Ushahidi is that it is open source that anyone can download, improve and filter the service or modify it.

 

I think Ushahidi wasn’t very effective to people in Kenya because Kibaki is still the president of Kenya. I think it provide enough valuable source of information as it was able to gather more data than any other mainstream media sources. Also I believe that it is really quick way to report event around the world because people upload their information anytime. At last it provides really quick response of big events that mainstream media may not be able to over in time due to the limited amounts of journalists they had.

 

 

 

Page One

Page One takes us into the newsroom at the New York Times office, revealing the underbelly of one of the world’s most prolific news publications. The documentary addresses issues pertaining to the journalistic world, including the shift from print to online news publication and the consequent effects this transition has had on the news world, both financially and contextually.

As a new media student who eventually would like to pursue journalism, Page One addresses issues that are prevalent in my world. At this point, I worry less about the politics of the news world and more about the chances of me being able to find some sort of employment after grad school. Being the typical starving university student that I am, I take advantage of pretty much anything that’s free, from food to coffee to whatever UBC emblazoned stationary that’s often handed out by over-eager students of weird clubs that are present in the SUB every once and a while. If I’m willing to go through an awkward chat with a questionably chipper UBC advocate in the SUB for a free pen, I surely am not willing to fork over two-fifty for a quality newspaper. Free news is something that is easily accessible at the click of a button, and I don’t have to go through any uncomfortable interpersonal activity to get it. This is a long way of saying that on my bi-weekly salary of $0.00, I refuse to pay the New York Times pay wall. As soon as it comes up, it’s nothing but an inconvenience to me, and I move onto some other free news website (or, more likely, Facebook).

What did Page One teach me?
– Pay wall = good. Print newspapers are not as important as they used to be, so they have to find money somewhere.
– There are enough dedicated and affluent readers of quality news out there to support news publications and keep journalists employed.
– Maybe I’ll find a job.
– I probably won’t, but whatever.

Page One gave me a lot of material to tell my mom when she urges me to pursue a career that is a little more lucrative, i.e. anything other than journalism. Quite honestly, if I had paid a little more attention to the politics of the documentary I’d probably have more to say. I was too busy mapping out my plans to mooch off some more free things around the school.

Melissa Kuipers

Ethical Dilemmas around Freedom of Information

WikiLeaks stands for a somewhat appealing but often scary ideal. That the public has a right to all government affairs to make democracy more transparent. The scary part is when this information can endanger the lives of the people involved which highlights a conflict between freedom, rights, and security.

Founded by Julian Assange and currently based around different European countries, mainly Sweden, WikiLeaks has released millions of sensitive documents mainly concerning governments and large corporations. It is based around volunteers providing the documents through an anonymous drop box which WikiLeaks then decides to share with new organisations. This so that the providers of the information is protected against persecution.

The leaking of military documents from War in Iraq caused a major worldwide controversy. With over 400.000 documents released that exposes war crimes by American troops. The most famous example is the video Collateral Murder – Iraq which shows American helicopters firing on civilians. While I believe that people have the right to this information it did have major repercussions in terms of endangering soldiers and and the Iraqi people.

It was condemned by Iraqi government officials, including the Prime Minister, who said that it would only cause more hatred and destruction in the country. It has also led several people claiming the WikiLeaks essentially declared war on America.

This continuing quest to release all kinds of classified to the public has led the security of individuals being compromised. The story of Bradley Manning is a great example of this. Bradley Manning was the main contributor of the released information. After being exposed to the U.S. military, Bradley has been in military custody since July 2010 and has not faced any trial since.

While this is can be viewed as a major violation of human rights it has also brought up another discussion. Several reports claim that Manning was mentally unstable and was never fit to serve in the war. This also reflect how the war led to the requirements for enlisting and serving in the Army has been significantly looser in the recent years. A discussion around who is able to serve in any given war seems like an important topic that might deserve more attention.

My opinion of WikiLeaks is ultimately mixed. I do support the idea that government dealings should be transparent but perhaps to a certain degree. While war crimes are inexusable, a government does have the responisiblty to ensure the safety of its citizens and troops and also to work towards peace efforts rather than causing more violence and destruction.

I also found it interesting in the WikiRebels documentary when Daniel Domscheit-Berg talks about leaving WikiLeaks due a conflict of beliefs. He talks about how Assange has too much control over the organization and that how he himself lacks transparency.

”If you preach transparency to everyone else you have to be transparent” – Daniel Domscheit-Berg

The Wiki leaks Saga: The online whistle blowing news generating phenomenon.

“Wiki leaks” is a media organization lead and directed by Julian Assange working with a team of cyber activists managing to collect secret classified documents hidden from the public. Wiki leaks claim that they covered what no other media corporation has ever covered.  It was first launched in October 2006, and publically gained attention in October 2010 after the release of 400,000 secret military files known as the “Iraq War Logs” leaked with the help of troops in Iraq who had access to these files.

Bradley Manning

One of the troops was caught; “Bradley Manning” a 22 year old US soldier is accused of being the soldier funneling much of the documents that Wiki leaks released. “Manning” revealed serious US war crimes, and for that he is detained at a military detention facility, facing a life conviction because he has been charged with a charge called “aiding the enemy”. It is believed that Manning is being tortured by the US government hoping to get more information from Manning about Assange and Wiki leaks.  You can watch the 50 minute official “Wiki leaks Documentary” here.

Wiki leaks is considered to have covered the biggest ever leak of military documents and other political secret documents in history so far. One of the highlight leaks is a US military footage released from 2007 showing an airstrike on civilians and journalists in Iraq titled “Collateral Murder”.

However, there is a debate going around on the internet regarding the “Collateral Video” claiming that it is missing 30 minutes; this has raised the question of whether it is Wikileaks or their sources who are editing the documents and videos they are publishing. And it is believed that it is the soldiers who are.

Julian Assange used a special media strategy; before launching the Wiki leaks website, Assange initially collaborated with three major newspapers; The New York Times, The Guardian, and The German Der Spiegel. The leak of US Military documents set up the World Wide Web on fire, dominating pages of newspapers across the planet.Wiki leaks is a very significant tool for the people who want to know what is really happening in zones controlled by the US (Afghanistan, Iraq). It has raised controversies regarding US’s National Security; powerful figures like Hilary Clinton marked it as an international terrorist organization acting as a threat to US National Security.

Is it a threat to US national security or a gift to the public giving them the right of knowledge and freedom of expression?

It is highly expected from governments to act against and terminate Wiki leaks, because it puts powerful people under the spotlight ruining their authority and reputation. Therefore people aiming for freedom of speech should support such an organization because it has the potential of changing the future of journalism radically.

– Farah Albashir

THIS REVOLUTION WILL BE TWEETED

In the last decade, social media has become a powerful asset to the organization and awareness of political activism throughout countries that deal with oppression. The online and public protests in Iran regarding the 2009 presidential election were used in today’s presentation as an example.

The election was controversial, as the candidates represented different political sides of the country. Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of two candidates, was the public favorite as he represented reformist ideals that would overthrow the oppressive government currently in place. When the election was held and votes were counted, the other candidate, conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won by a landslide. Immediately there was outcry, not on the streets surprisingly, but online via twitter and blogs.

The sheer volume of tweets was staggering, as at least 25 million people in Iran has access to the Internet and approximately 45 million people have cellphones and use it excessively.  Since foreign media was banned, a lot of the revolution could not be televised or covered by international media corporations, so Twitter was the main source of information for the international community outside of Iran.

The protests took place between June 15th, 2009 and Feb 11th, 2010 in the main cities of Tehran and Isfahan. People did go out and protest on the streets, only to be met by violence from police. The presenters had said regarding the outbreak of media attention on Twitter and Facebook that “Through these online outlets, photographs and short films showing police forces beating and bloodying protesters clad in green — the Mousavi campaign’s signature color.” This only encouraged the online media to become more active and spread awareness across the globe.

To see the sheer magnitude of people protesting, see this video.

… And some pictures.

Pete made a good point by mentioning the French and American Revolutionary Wars, and how the public had to use the weapons and tools they could find in order to fight, and how it was similar in Iran. Since it was so dangerous to voice a public opinion physically, online was the most strategic way to protest. The hashtag #iranelection was trending worldwide, and new tweets were coming in from all different kinds of sources. Connecting information and sharing was simple when citizens utilized Twitter during protests. It was vital to the efforts of the protestors and those following the stories in real time.

Press credentials were revoked on June 15th, so in order for people to learn about the protests, they had to resort to the Internet to get the latest on where the authorities were, and what measures were used to detain the crowds. The interactions between the citizens of Iran and the World Wide Web had made a huge impact on how social networking can influence politics and the coverage of a protest through citizen journalism.

This was where many oppressing powers could finally see what power online social networking held in the hands of an unhappy citizen. What capabilities for inciting protest and connecting with others it held within itself. Sites like Twitter have the potential to do something great in mass numbers, and this event is an example of what happens when that potential is used to it’s extent.

 

The presentation ended with a couple questions…

The first being: Was twitter used to get the word out there or was it used internally (between protestors) as well?

Because of the small population capable of accessing the internet when compared to North America, it was utilized in between protestors, but not to the extent of the international community. But yes, it was used between protestors to organize.

What are the risks for civilians posting these tweets and blogs?

By tracking IP address, the government could be capable of finding a suppressing a citizen whose voice has been heard online, but nothing too drastic considering that would be a lengthy search.

Thanks, Sarah Kirkwood  

The Arab Spring

Arab Revolution "Arab Spring"

I remember very well when it all started,  it all began when “Mohammad Bouzizi” a fresh produce cart vendor set himself on fire on December 17th 2010 in Tunisia, because he was publicly humiliated and harassed for no reason from a police woman. And since then protests outrboke in Tunisia, and became a trend in   Arab countries including Jordan, where I’m from. As a result of Bouzizi’s actions, Arab citizens realized the oppression they are under, and started a revolution named the “Arab Spring” aiming to overthrow non-democratic, oppressive governments and leaders. It was called the “Arab Spring” considering the metaphoric political seasons; where winter signifies oppression and spring signifies the awakening of citizens and opening the path to achieving a long lost dream “freedom”.

Bouzizi on Fire

And, today while studying at the University of British Columbia, my colleagues Summer and Jojo gave a  presentation on the “Arab Spring” in our Journalism class, which gave me a new perspective to look at it from. They defined the “Arab Spring” as : a revolutionary  wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that  began on December 18th 2010.

Media and technology played a big role in leading the revolution. Twitter, Facebook and Blogger; they are the face of the “Arab Spring”. Social media became the craze across the Arab world. It was significant in fueling the revolution and supporting it, it mobilized protests, helped in planning them, aided in undermining the regimes’ legitimacy, and increased national and international exposure of what was happening. However, the governments also used technology and the internet to track IP addresses of internet activists in order to suppress them and to suppress their actions. This resulted in their imprisonment and torture of citizens. Governments and Arab dictators also managed to monitor the protests and censor posts and stories on the internet. I believe that they use IT technologies sold by internet/technology companies in North America, if Americans stop selling these tracking programs to Arab governments, then there would have been less blood shed and less police – citizen involvements.

Arab Dictators

It is said that due to the Arab Spring an increase of 1,825.3% occurred in the internet usage of citizens in the middle east. Arab citizens are not only using social media for the purpose of socializing they are now using it as political tool, critiquing governments, presidents, kings and cabinet members. I believe that this media revolution has changed and improved many aspects in the Middle East, who ever knew that social media could fuel democracy?

– Farah Albashir

The SiChuan earthquake of China

When I browse the blog report of others, I feel little bit funny about what they have post on the blog. Why? Such like what they say, today everyone gets the information from the Twitter,Facebook and internet news. People cannot just believe everthing on the internet,because we must not exclude the possibility of aspersions on the image of a nation. What I find out from there blog is all about China’s downside.

For example : One of our student in this class says that “This devastation wasn’t immediately reported to the rest of the world, as many western news outlets such as Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter are banned in China.” I totally feel stupid about this statement. Actually people in China are useing the exactly same thing as the Facebook , You Tube, and Twitter, they just have the different name of them. Also in the cyberage, If people want to check out what happed on about the Fackbook or they want to know about the  inside story of the goverment, they can easily to use the proxy to check out the webpage of other countries. Im not say that the China goverment blocks some of the forgien web page is a good thing,but people are not foolish, they know how to get the infermation they need.

One student in our class says that,”In an article written by Malcolm Moore in the Telegraph (a UK newspaper), he explains that the Chinese government needed to “relax its reporting restrictions” as 29 journalists, 19 of whom are bloggers, are in prisons.” When the earthquake was happend, I was in Regina, Saskatchewan. All of the Chinese people in Regina got know this information right after the earthquake, and we did a pray for all of the victims.  Also in China, the goverment was very proactively to taken steps to save. The Chinese media were follow this issue closely,too. So that I cannot believe that why the student of our class say that.

Social media – a double edged sword for anti-government activists?

The events of the Arab Spring have shown the rest of the world the power of social media in protest movements. Through the use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, activists in the region could deliver their message to an international audience, mobilise other activists, and to organise protests. Yet despite the effective use of social media platforms by activists in the Arab Spring, there were still cases when governments attempted to limit access to social media to quell revolutions.

In some situations, using the Internet and social media as tools to express strong political opinions may not work well for activists at all. An activist in Syria who has written anti-government statements on his Facebook had to stop his comments after finding out that he had been blacklisted as a dissident by the ruling party. Stories like this have made some activists reluctant to voice their opinions online for fear that the government will use social media against them by tracking them down. Through a person’s social media account or profile, proficient hackers are able to gain information on the location and identity of the owner. As seen from the lesbian in Damascus hoax, hackers have successfully discovered that the ‘lesbian’ blogger was, in actual fact, a heterosexual American man. This suggests that even if an activist does not reveal his or her true identity in their online posts, the government may potentially be able to find out. In mainland China, there have already been several cases of political activists being targeted for posting their anti-government ideas online.

Another reason why social media may be limited in their usefulness for political movements is that governments can decide to block access to social media websites to prevent the organization of protests. However, the government can be successful in using this strategy only to a small extent. Proxy servers, alternate DNS, mirror sites and other methods of hacking allow users to easily regain access to social media platforms to resume their activity. Also, the great abundance of different social media platforms on the Internet means that activists can switch to other platforms if their original platform was made inaccessible by the government. For example, if Twitter was blocked and TwitterLocal was not, so people could still post anti-government material on the latter.

Finally, because social media is user generated and decentralised by nature, it can be difficult for activists to get communicate their messages. Because political protest movements involve strong and differing views amongst the people who are involved in them, the information coming out of them may not always represent the truth of the situation. As a result, the audience might be left confused about how much of the wealth of information is actually trustworthy.

– Huang, Shih-Ting (Tina)

WikiLeaks: The Burn Book of International Relations

It’s been ages since I wanted to know what WikiLeaks was all about but I hadn’t been able to force my slothful rear end to do research. But now, thanks to Anaya and Lauren’s intriguing presentation, I feel capable of having a say in this current universal topic.

For those of you who (like myself a day ago) do not know what WikiLeaks is: it’s a non-profit organization of bean-spillers that (very gutsily) share private media with the public. The site’s published leaks have been significant enough to fill front-page news and have even faced potential criminal charges from the U.S. Department of Justice.

WikiLeaks, is to international politics what the vandalized bathroom stall in high school is to adolescent relations. They’re both full of secrets provided by anonymous sources that make those in power squirm in mortification as they watch their reputation burn. Instead of the prom Kings and Queens, we’ve got the likes of Vladimir Putin and Hillary Clinton having their soup spilled by others.

“Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by WikiLeaks.”

There has been a lot of backlash against WikiLeaks, especially from American politicians. The U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton (pictured above), has previously been busted by the site as it published evidence that she had ordered diplomats to spy on the United Nations. Hence, it is not suprising that she would bitterly express her opinions towards the site. She has publicly stated that WikiLeaks is “an attack on the international community” and that the United States “deeply regrets” the disclosure of these confidential documents. Clinton speaks for all American politicians, as their reaction to the leaks is nothing short of fury. They’ve called on the site to be labeled as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and have been trying to convince President Obama to take WikiLeaks to court.

But is WikiLeaks really so immoral? It is sort of amusing to see that these important people, who were once believed to be paragons of their country, are repeatedly being caught in the act. It is also ironic that the U.S. government can freely reveal private information belonging to other governments, or carelessly spy on them yet, when the tables are turned, it become so frail.

What we see here is yet another case of state vs. freedom of speech. In my opinion, I do believe that citizens deserve to know what is really being done by their governments, and are completely entitled to discuss their opinions.

What do YOU think though? Should WikiLeaks be permitted? Or should it be ran over by a school bus?

– Marko Kundicevic

 

 

 

The Secrets are no longer Secrets

The snitch, or not?

In the year of 2007, governments all over the world are stunned by a newly emerged threat: WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization that reveals important information to the world. It is an organization founded by Julian Assange and The Sunshine Press organization which relies on volunteers’ involvements in disclosing governments’ exclusive news into a anonymous drop box and the Wiki Journalists will then analyse, verify, and write a news piece about the material to the public. The WikiLeaks is a successful attempt in disclosing governments’ secrets to the world; despite the risks of being arrested, it claimed a database of over 1.2 million leaked documents within the year of its launch. A lot of new front page stories are has been released by WikiLeaks in the past few years, including a package of documents called Iraq War Logs which contains 400,000 documents about the Iraq war and occupation held between 2004 and 2009.

These documents are provided by a US soldier, and it is the largest scale of leak in the US military history. The leaks included more than 15,000 of unreported deaths of civilians killed by US soldiers. As well as hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by the Iraqi police and soldiers that are have not been investigated.  This leakage of documents is trusted by many organizations and has aroused reactions from many countries and organizations. The United Nations suggest that an investigation should be held towards the US military in terms of Human Rights. The US condemns the WikiLeaks to be putting the US and its partners’ civilians at risk since the documents reveal the names and private information of people involved in the Iraq War log. In addition, the prime minister of Iraq and an Iranian politician both reject the claims made up by US government to accuse.  Other than that, many countries and non-profit organizations have also reacted to the Iraq War Log incident. For more information, please click here.

WikiLeaks: a journalistic organization?

The WikiLeaks is somehow thought to be a journalistic organization in terms of releasing news to the public; however, the creditability is questionable. Since the WikiLeaks is rely heavily on volunteers and citizen journalists, it takes a lot of works for WikiLeaks’ journalists to fact check the news. The Youtube video that is released by the WikiLeaks is also doubted to be edited by its members; therefore, it is hard to decide whether the news revealed by WikiLeaks are reliable or not.  So, is WikiLeaks a creditable journalistic organization? What do you think?

Angel or Evil—Human rights

The WikiLeaks on the one hand acts as a humanity activist as it discloses covered information on incidents that violate human rights; however, on the other hand, it defies the basic integrity by ignoring others’ privacy, stealing secrets and revealing them to the public. This not only put people involved in these incidents at risk, but also arouses worldwide attention and stimulates hostilities between countries. Perhaps the price of helping ones from torture is putting others at risk; will there be a better way for people to make peace?

“To be or not to be, this is the question.”

April Chan