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Policy, Law & Regulation

By now, you’ll have heard – perhaps via international media, or on Twitter or Facebook – about the protests that started in defence of one of Istanbul’s last remaining green spaces, and have now, in response to heavy-handed policing and broader worries about democratic rights, spread across many cities in Turkey

I’ve been following the torrent of communication and coverage on Twitter mainly via a mixture of local and international academics, NGO people and journalists – ranging from Asli Tunç, Yaman Akdeniz, Zeynep Tufekci (who has also blogged a rapid, excellent analysis), and Burcu Baykurt [UPDATE: Burcu has written a very comprehensive post detailing the main media reform issues emerging from the Gezi Park protest movement] to Aaron SteinBenjamin Harvey, Hugh Pope and Amberin Zaman – as well as feeds like 140 Journos. (Feel free to tweet me or @mediapolicy with further suggestions.)

One of the most widely discussed (on Twitter) aspects of these protests has been the mainstream Turkish media’s perceived failure to cover the protests fairly, adequately, or in some cases at all, leading Bloomberg’s Benjamin Harvey to tweet the following:

Turks being confronted with the now-undeniable deficiencies of their media may be one of the most important aspects of these protests.

In report after report after report [UPDATE: 3 June 2013 – see comment below for further resources], those deficiencies – and the reasons for them – have been thoroughly, exhaustively anatomised. Asli Tunç and Vehbi Görgülü’s Mapping Digital Media Turkey report (2012), for example, gives a very comprehensive overview of the Turkish media sector and its travails, and is part of a 50-country series that mediapolicy.org readers know well. The Carnegie report (also supported by OSF) by Marc Pierini and Markus Mayr on Press Freedom in Turkey, takes a different approach. Introducing the report in January 2013, Pierini wrote:

I didn’t conduct yet another inquiry into press freedom. More modestly, I analyzed all the reports published on the subject by governmental and non-governmental, Turkish and foreign entities during the last two years. Although they had different focuses and methodologies, all these reports convey one single image: Turkey’s record is bad because it fares well below the country’s democratic credentials and is hurting the nation economically and diplomatically on the international scene.

One has to hope that the Gezi Park crisis will lead in some way to genuine reforms in Turkey’s media policy and media sector, freeing journalism to play a stronger role in the country’s democracy. As Turkey is one of mediapolicy.org‘s focus countries, we’ll definitely follow developments and build up useful resources over the coming weeks and months. We’d love to hear from academics, researchers, civil society and journalists interested in sharing perspectives on media policy and reform in Turkey – please get in touch on email or Twitter

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“We agreed on the important role a free and independent media should play in Somalia, and welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the killing of journalists, and to promote press freedom.”
(Somalia Conference 2013: Official Communiqué at GOV.UK.)

Yesterday’s conference communiqué was unambiguous on the need to protect the media in Somalia. Here’s a selection of the international groups working on media policy issues in Somalia, and a couple of recent reports about the media environment in the country – let us know via the comments what we’re missing, and we’ll update the list.

EU fact sheet from Dec 2012 detailing some of the activities of the Somalia Media Support Group of donors, NGOs, and international organisations, and insights into the future strategy for supporting Somalia’s media sector to 2015
CIMA‘s compilation of where Somalia sits in various international press freedom rankings
– Somalia sits in 2nd position in the CPJ’s Impunity Index for killings of journalists
Article 19 has been tracking the development of Somalia’s media law, and recently held a conference on protection of journalists in Mogadishu
– the BBC’s media development arm, BBC Media Action, produced a media environment analysis and a policy briefing about the role of the media in 2011
– the InfoAsAid project we featured a couple of weeks ago includes a pretty comprehensive Somalia media/telecoms landscape report from early 2012 (also here)
– the Center for Law and Democracy published a media law and policy review for Somalia in late 2012 (here’s a piece from Albany Associates about the report)
– Albany Associates is also supporting the government and the UN’s AMISOM more broadly on communications
NORAGRIC is a less usual source for media landscape information, but here’s their March 2012 report on Somalia
– Danish NGO IMS supports a Somali radio station, Radio Ergo
Global Voices covers Somalia with reasonable regularity, as has the Guardian‘s Data Blog

And finally, here are some stats on social media usage in Somalia, courtesy of Social Bakers.

Last month, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) – a multi-stakeholder coalition of ICT companies, civil society organisations, investors and academics – signed a cooperation agreement with another body called Industry Dialogue, or, to give it its full name, Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. Why should journalism and media policy people care about this? Two reasons…

First, as Rebecca Mackinnon has pointed out on this site before, a free, open internet is crucial for press and media freedom – and that includes the mobile internet: 

All news organisations – whether their final news product is distributed online, in print, or broadcast – are increasingly dependent on broadband and mobile networks to gather, transmit, compile, and disseminate their reports and investigations. Whether the internet remains open and globally inter-operable affects the ability of all news organisations to obtain fair access to increasingly global or geographically-dispersed audiences.

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So the long-standing debate about the independence of Italy’s public broadcaster, RAI – addressed in Mapping Digital Media: Italy, and by the Open Media Coalition, Italy’s media reform movement – has now received the Grillo treatment.

Italian comedian Beppe Grillo last week accelerated debate in Italy about the independence of broadcast media and journalism from political interests, releasing poll results showing that, out of 95,000 responses, 99% of respondents wanted a public broadcast channel free from political meddling, and 52% wanted to see more investigative journalism about domestic issues.

Under the hashtag #raisenzapartite (“RAI (the public broadcaster) without the parties”), Grillo wrote a blog post asserting that:

“a part of the Italian population is living in a gigantic “Truman show”, and responsibility for this is entirely due to Italian journalists, with the usual few exceptions and in a country like ours, these exceptions deserve every possible praise. […] RAI has to be reorganised and transformed into a public service following the model of the BBC without any connection to the parties, without advertising, producing quality content that has mainly been produced in-house and not like now, when it’s entrusted to external companies with the building up of one set of costs on top of another. In Parliament, the M5S, in accordance with its programme, will propose the establishment of a single RAI channel, without any connection to the parties and without advertising. It proposes the sale of the other channels.”

It’s sure to be a topic of conversation at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia in two weeks, as Italian journalism already is over at the LSE’s POLIS project. In the meantime, take another look at the MDM Report, which proposed a wider range of media reform measures that could restore independence to Italy’s media: