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Public Communication Contexts & Cultures Media Constraints in Formerly Soviet Central Asia Professor Eric Freedman 28 September 2011

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Presentation on theme: "Public Communication Contexts & Cultures Media Constraints in Formerly Soviet Central Asia Professor Eric Freedman 28 September 2011"— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Communication Contexts & Cultures Media Constraints in Formerly Soviet Central Asia Professor Eric Freedman 28 September 2011

2 Discussion Points: U.S. Media How much do U.S. media shape the news and information agenda for other countries? Which of the U.S. press’s challenges also face Lithuanian news organizations? Do government officials and politicians in Lithuania try to bypass the press to sell themselves and their policies to the public. And how?

3 Lecture Outline Background on the press in the USSR & Soviet Central Asia Central Asia today Nature of press constraints under Central Asia’s repressitarian regimes Constraints on the Internet & new media Role of Western trainers

4 Common Themes Power of the media in a variety of countries and political systems. Conflicts between those with political and economic power on one side and those with less power or no power on the other side. Impacts of changing communication technologies and economic models. Role of the press in bringing events to light, helping to set the public agenda for discussion and action by citizens and policymakers.

5 A Death in Kyrgyzstan Alisher Saipov, independent journalist and critic of human rights abuses in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan fatally shot at point-blank range Oct. 24, 2007, in the city of Osh “…a brutal crime that smacks of retribution for his work. He was a courageous journalist committed to exposing human rights abuses”—Human Rights Watch

6 Glossary Repressitarian: Both authoritarian in governance & repressive in human rights practices Interventionist model of the press: Journalists & media organizations as activists rather than neutral, objective observers and analysts “Soft” censorship: The practice of journalists censoring themselves to avoid penalties, libel suits & other negative consequences of their reporting.

7 Former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan & Kazakhstan

8 Points to Ponder Why did post-Soviet Lithuania develop a pluralistic press while post-Soviet Central Asia did not? Role of public attitudes in creating & sustaining press freedom Is freedom of traditional press necessary if social & new media are available?

9 Lenin on the Press “In contradistinction to bourgeois customs, to the profit- making, commercialized bourgeois press, to bourgeoisie literary careerism and individualism, ‘aristocratic anarchism’ and drive for profit, the socialist proletariat must put forward the principle of Party literature, must develop this principle, and put it into practice as fully and completely as possible. What is this principle of Party literature? Literature can not be a means of enriching individuals or groups: it cannot, in fact, be an individual undertaking, independent of the common cause of the proletariat. Down with non-partisan writers! Literature must become part of the common cause with the proletariat.”

10 Article 20 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan (2007) states: “The freedom of speech and creative activities shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freely receive and disseminate information by any means not prohibited by law.” It does include this exception, however: “3. Propaganda of or agitation for the forcible change of the constitutional system, violation of the integrity of the Republic, undermining of state security, and advocating war, social, racial, national, religious, class and clannish superiority as well as the cult of cruelty and violence shall not be allowed.”

11 Media Conditions in Central Asia State-owned, party-owned, oligarchic-control & opposition news outlets—few few independent ones Restrictions on broadcasting & publishing licenses Official, semi-official and “soft” censorship Criminal libel & “honor & dignity” laws Journalists murdered, assaulted, arrested, disappeared, harassed & fired Tax audits, access denied to printing facilities

12 Uzbek Journalist Ends Hunger Strike After Hospitalization, July 2011 Turkmen Journalist Threatened For Blogs About Explosion, Casualties, July 2011 Kyrgyz Journalist Hospitalized After Severe Beating, May 2011 Kazakh Journalist Charged With Assaulting Policeman She Says Attacked Her, April 2011 Detained BBC Correspondent In Tajikistan Released, July 2011 Uzbekistan Deports Retired Tajik Journalist, September 2011 Tajik Journalist Accepts Assailants' Apologies, September 2011

13 Journalist Shodiv Mardiev was sentenced to 11 years in prison for criminal defamation based on a satirical story about corrupt local officials he aired on the Samarkand radio station where he worked in Uzbekistan. He was freed after 4 years. "All my life I worked for my country. I'm so sorry my country abandoned their son and a reporter.” One Journalist’s Tale

14 Uzbek Journalist Forced to Flee after Covering Massacre Journalist for Institute for War & Peace Reporting Witnessed May 2005 Andijan massacre Accused of “conducting open information warfare against the state ” Fled to United States “Because of a few journalists who saw what happened and told the truth, one of the most repressive regimes in the world was not able to conceal the crime.”

15 Country Internet Penetration Rate (percentage of population) Facebook Users Kazakhstan34.1%293,040 Kyrgyzstan39.2%49,820 Tajikistan9.2%20,260 Turkmenistan1.6%13,000 Uzbekistan26.8%82,900 Internet Penetration Rate & Number of Facebook Users in Central Asia as of 30 June Source: Internet World Stats (2011)

16 Azimjon Askarov, life sentence, Kyrgyzstan Dzhamshid Karimov, forced psychiatric confinement, Uzbekistan Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, prison, Uzbekistan Online Journalists In Custody in Central Asia

17 Reminder: Points to Ponder Why did post-Soviet Lithuania develop a pluralistic press while post-Soviet Central Asia did not? Role of public attitudes in creating & sustaining press freedom Is freedom of traditional press necessary if social & new media are available?

18 Assigned Readings for Next Lecture on Covering International NGOs “Hiding the Real Africa” (Columbia Journalism Review, 2011) “Hiding the Real Africa” “OSCE PA Takes Up Discussion of Torture and Other Assaults on Human Rights in Its Member States” (Ferghana News Service, 2011)OSCE PA Takes Up Discussion of Torture and Other Assaults on Human Rights in Its Member States” “Genital mutilation: Women fight Africa’s taboo” (The Independent, 2009) “Genital mutilation: Women fight Africa’s taboo” “Aid groups demand action as famine in Somalia gets worse” (Deutsche Welle, 2011) “Aid groups demand action as famine in Somalia gets worse” “Belarus: “Inmates are afraid of exercising their religious freedom rights” (Forum 18 News Service, 2011) “Belarus: “Inmates are afraid of exercising their religious freedom rights”


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