By Butler Cain | February 29th, 2012
Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category
By Butler Cain | February 22nd, 2012
Two journalists were killed Feb. 22 when Syrian forces shelled the city of Homs.
Marie Colvin was an American war correspondent, and Remi Ochlik was a French photojournalist.
This particular report comes from MSNBC, but news outlets across the world began reporting their deaths early this morning.
SPJ’s International Journalism Committee expresses its condolences to Colvin’s and Ochlik’s families and colleagues.
By Butler Cain | April 20th, 2011
SPJ’s International Journalism Committee released the following statement on Wednesday, 4/20/11:
“The International Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists mourns the loss on Wednesday of two great photojournalists. Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, both of New York, were accustomed to putting their lives on the line to help the world see the true, bloody realities of war. Yet their untimely deaths remind us of the real cost of violent conflict. We urge international authorities to pursue the truth behind this criminal attack and take steps to protect other journalists who are now risking their lives to spotlight a conflict that must not go unreported. We send our deepest condolences to the Hetherington and Hondros families.”
Read Wednesday’s Associated Press report from Misrata, Libya.
By SPJ | March 30th, 2011
By Scott Leadingham
You’d be forgiven for admitting confusion upon hearing or reading the term “Middle East.” And lately, that’s an almost impossible term to avoid seeing or hearing in news media.
What started as a backlash against policies in Tunisia has spread across North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and north to Syria. At the moment, the United States finds itself assisting in a United Nations-backed air defense mission in Libya.
With all of this has come near constant news coverage, which has only taken a backseat at times to news of the Japan tsunami and corresponding nuclear issues.
Each country in question is unique, and the circumstances surrounding protests and uprisings differ drastically from one to the next.
But it’s not uncommon to lump all these countries together under one simple descriptor: the Middle East. With U.S. involvement in Libya, news outlets have featured reporters, analysts, pundits and everyone in between wondering if military resources are being stretched. To encapsulate a topic of discussion: The U.S. is, after all, involved in two other Middle East conflicts – in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Therein is the question. Are Afghanistan and Libya (and any number of other countries – Tunisia, too) technically “the Middle East”? Does it matter?
It absolutely matters. Accuracy in news reporting is a fundamental underpinning of credible journalism. For example, if the BBC consistently referred to Mexico as part of South America, they’d be expected to correct this misnomer.
When hearing references to Libya or Afghanistan being in the Middle East, I had flashbacks to my undergraduate geography courses. I seemed to recall that Afghanistan was decidedly not in the Middle East by geographic standards. Aren’t these universally accepted standards in academic disciplines and in journalism?
Actually, I found, they’re not. While Mexico is certainly a part of the North American continent and not a part of South America, it’s not that simple with the Middle East.
The Middle East “is not an exact term,” according to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Depending on the situation and who you ask, “Pakistan or Afghanistan can be either in or out,” Landis wrote in an email.
The Associated Press Stylebook – which, depending on your news outlet, is either the “Bible” or a nice spiritual guide in trying times – is in the “out” camp for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
From the 2010 Stylebook entry on Middle East:
“The term applies to southwest Asia west of Pakistan and Afghanistan (Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the eastern part of Turkey known also as Asia Minor, United Arab Eremites and Yemen), and northeastern Africa (Egypt and Sudan).”
By that standard, Afghanistan is not in the Middle East, and neither are Libya or Tunisia. The latter two would, in theory, be in North Africa. It would help if the Stylebook included a North Africa entry, but it does not.
[Update: 3/30/11 1:09 p.m. ET] New York Times Standards Editor Phil Corbett got back to me after this post was originally published.
The New York Times’ style guide says:
“The Middle East comprises Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and the Persian Gulf emirates.”
That definition includes Libya, but not Afghanistan or Turkey. (Note the differences with AP.)
Corbett wrote in an email that he agrees what constitutes the Middle East is debatable, and “there may occasionally be some contexts in which we would mention other countries in a general ‘Middle East’ connection.”
Note: I inquired of GlobalPost about its definitions of “Middle East,” but haven’t heard back.
Landis of the University of Oklahoma notes that North Africa is part of the Middle East, “according to most traditions.”
But the tradition of Bernard Haykel is less broad. Haykel is a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and directs its Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
“When I think of the Middle East, I think of lands that include Egypt to the borders of Iraq,” Haykel says. “And Iran, too.”
He says he would correct a student who places Afghanistan in the Middle East, while recognizing there is ambiguity in the description. And, he notes, such regional descriptions are relative. In India, for example, what people in the U.S. and Europe label the Middle East is called West Asia.
Perhaps some of the ambiguity comes from textbooks.
Since I was channeling college geography courses in thinking about this issue, I asked a good source: my undergraduate geography professor.
Elaine Glenn is a senior lecturer at Central Washington University focusing on political geography and the Middle East. She says Afghanistan gets placed in different regions depending on the text you read. One text she uses, “Globalization and Diversity: Geography of a Changing World,” refers to everything from Western Sahara (in northwest Africa) to Iran as “South West Asia and North Africa.” Another text, “World Regional Geography,” calls the same region “the Middle East and North Africa,” and it includes Afghanistan in that description.
“You could technically describe anything from Western Sahara to at least Iran as the Middle East,” Glenn says, but notes that it’s subjective and “each text is different.”
Glenn says she personally tells students that everything from Western Sahara to Afghanistan could be included. But, she qualifies an important point.
“(I) try to help them understand the more subtle connections and linkages in these countries. Generally it is OK to put them all together, but a deeper study of the region reveals the similarities and differences in culture, language and history.”
Good advice. That’s not just a job for geography professors. Aside from striving for accuracy, providing such context and explanation should be a primary mission for all news outlets – regardless of the region from which news disseminates.
Scott Leadingham is editor of Quill magazine. On Twitter: @scottleadingham
By Butler Cain | March 21st, 2011
Four New York Times journalists who have been missing in Libya have finally been freed.
The New York Times reported today on the release of Anthony Shadid, Tyler Hicks, Lynsey Addario and Stephen Farrell. They went missing nearly a week ago while covering the conflict between rebels and the Libyan government in the city of Ajdabiya.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said it welcomes their release but “remains deeply concerned about 13 other journalists who are either missing or reported in Libyan government custody.”
By Dan Kubiske | March 8th, 2011
First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World
TED has always been a gathering of thinkers and innovators. Its invitation to Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera fits right in.
Despite the animosity showed toward Al Jazeera by way too many Americans, it remains on of the best sources for information about what is going on in the Arab world. And many in the States have finally come to realize that once things really started hopping in tunis, Egypt and Libya.
By Dan Kubiske | March 2nd, 2011
Yes, I know, the VOA is a tool of the great Satan. If that is true, then Satan has a hell of a good sense of humor.
As we have learned from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, sometimes the best way to get at some major stories (or to get some people to pay attention to major stories) is with humor.
The Voice of America broadcasts a “Daily Show” style program each week on its Farsi network. And it is wildly popular.
The PBS NewsHour did an interview with the guys behind the show: For Iranian TV Viewers, ‘Parazit’ Offers Reprieve From Static
By Dan Kubiske | February 25th, 2011
First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.
ABS-CBN News in the Philippines has a VERY cool interactive map that show how many Filipinos are in the Middle East/North Africa area. The map shows not just the number of Filipinos but also their remittances back to family back home.
And when you get to remittances, then you are talking about a very real local connection to an international event.
Check out the story at INTERACTIVE: What unrests in Mideast, N.Africa mean to Pinoys and the INTERACTIVE MAP.
Many thanks to@The_CopyEditor, Jojo Pasion Malig in Manila for Tweeting about this.
By Dan Kubiske | February 24th, 2011
The latest on the situation on attacks against journalists in Libya and the Middle East from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
New York, February 23, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the ongoing attack on journalists and bloggers in the Middle East. Today the Libyan deputy foreign minister warned foreign journalists crossing the eastern border that they will be treated as “outlaws,” according to news reports. In Iraq, gunmen raided the office of a local press freedom group; in Egypt, pro-government supporters attacked a group of local journalists; and in Syria, a young blogger was arrested on Sunday, according to news reports.
Some foreign journalists in Libya have been able to enter the country through the eastern border, according to news reports, but today, Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Khaim warned those who entered Libya illegally that they will be arrested if they do not give themselves in to authorities, according to Agence France-Presse. “There are journalists who entered illegally and we consider them as if they are collaborating with Al-Qaeda and as outlaws and we are not responsible for their security,” Khaim said. Qaddafi’s government lost control over the eastern border on Tuesday, according to news reports.
For rest of report, click here.
By Butler Cain | February 4th, 2011
The following is a press release from the Society of Professional Journalists. It was released earlier today and can also be found here.
For Immediate Release:
Hagit Limor, SPJ President, (513) 852-4012, email@example.com
Ricardo Sandoval Palos, SPJ International Journalism Committee Chairman, (415) 786-1258, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Director, (317) 640-9304, email@example.com
“We urge Egyptians within the government and outside it to demonstrate their support of those who simply seek to tell the truth in this historic time for their nation,” SPJ President Hagit Limor said. “We condemn any violence against or arrests of journalists and other attempts to hinder reporting.”
Since protests began on Jan. 25, journalists from local, regional and international news outlets have covered the situation from many angles. What started as largely peaceful demonstrations turned violent as supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak clashed with protesters calling for him to resign. A worldwide audience is aware of calls for reform and the violence that followed thanks to journalists from numerous outlets.
On Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, news of extensive intimidation, harassment and violence against journalists spread, due in part to social media. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported Thursday it had tracked “30 detentions, 26 assaults and eight instances of equipment being seized.” The numbers have increased since then. ABC News compiled a similar and growing list.
Not only journalists, but citizens, activists and protesters have disseminated information because of Internet and social media tools. Due to this, word has spread faster of unwarranted attacks on news media and peaceful demonstrators.
“This is proof that attempts to hinder the press in these situations are ultimately futile,” said Ricardo Sandoval Palos, chairman of SPJ’s International Journalism Committee. “But they can be dangerous, too, as they have the immediate effect of encouraging some people to brutally attack reporters.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned attacks on the press, calling them “a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press, and it is unacceptable under any circumstances.”
SPJ echoes Clinton’s words and calls on the Egyptian government, pro-Mubarak demonstrators and all people to let journalists do their jobs: to report news of significant events in a nation’s history.
Additionally, all governments in the region, including Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen, should realize that attacks on the press, openness and peaceful assembly only serve to undermine their legitimacy. All people deserve to be heard and to know unfiltered news. Heavy-handed tactics to control information and intimidate those who report it only amplify dissatisfaction, as the situation in Egypt shows.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.