Syndicate content

November 2008

I Hate Thee but, Alas, I Need Thee

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Each time I attend a meeting where public officials are gathered and the subject of the mass media comes up, the room lights up. The stories of deep frustration with the media simply flow out of them like melted butter out of a jug. The complaints are legion:

  • Those terrible journalists distort my views.
  • The media are instruments of terror...virtually.
  • They don't get anything serious; they are lazy and uninformed.
  • They are in bed with sinister forces, and corrupt proprietors.
  • They are not to be trusted at all.
  • As the discussion progresses, the authoritarian impulse comes out. You hear calls for strict regulation of the mass media in the particular developing country. Yes, the officials say, the media must be brought to heel, reigned in.

Regional Movements for Media Reform

Silvio Waisbord's picture

Much has been said lately about the prospects for global institutions to promote media democracy and good governance. The jury is still out, however. How can a diversity of trasnational actors, including intergovernment bodies, donors, UN agencies, civic groups and business, be effective? Are all actors equally positioned? If national governments retain power over key decisions shaping media environments, how do global actors manage to influence opportunities for media pluralism and participation?

Latin America offers an interesting petri dish to examine the germination of regional movements promoting media pluralism.

Communication and Anti-Corruption: Day 3 (of 3)

Antonio Lambino's picture

Vienna International Center, Austria -- The third and final day of the CommGAP-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) communication and anti-corruption learning event featured the following topics: the role of communication in changing social norms and behavior that support corruption; the communicative dimensions of anti-corruption bodies; and a brainstorming session on the ways in which UNODC and CommGAP can support the global anti-corruption community of practice.

Your “Good Leader” Might be Another Person’s “Worst Nightmare”

Henriette von Kaltenborn-Stachau's picture

This summer I was asked to evaluate Timor-Leste’s Leadership and Communication Capacity for National Renewal Program (LCCNR) and provide strategic recommendations for the future of the program. I did so with great interest and developed a high appreciation for the LCCNR.

Using Communication Approaches and Techniques to Support Anti-Corruption Efforts: A Learning Event for Anti-Corruption Agencies

Antonio Lambino's picture

In a post a couple of months back, we announced that CommGAP is co-organizing a learning event on communication’s contribution to anti-corruption efforts with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the international agency responsible for promoting the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.

The event will be held next week at the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria and will bring together government officials working in anti-corruption commissions (ACCs) and experts in communication approaches and techniques that support anti-corruption initiatives.  We look forward to learning about real-world challenges as well as communication efforts that have been effective in anti-corruption work in both developed and developing countries.  We’ll be posting updates from Vienna – at the end of the first and last days of the event.  In the meantime, please find below the latest version of the agenda.

A Malaysian Surprise?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

You are familiar, I believe, with the authoritarian objection to a free, plural and independent media system. Authoritarian leaders always say: at this stage in the development of our country we cannot afford a free press. Too dangerous, you understand, too disruptive. Let's secure national unity first, let's get rid of poverty, let's be as rich as the West, then we can talk about a free press.  Or they deploy the cultural norms argument. This is Asia, they might say, and Asian values do not support imported notions like a free press, free speech and such nonsense. Others will say: this is Africa; we have to do what makes sense in Africa. A free press causes nothing but trouble. We can't afford that now.

Well, you can imagine my reaction when I read the following story in the New York Times of Thursday November 6: 'Malay Blogger Fights a System He Perfected'.

The Public Sphere Model: Does It De-Emphasize Accountability?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

I recently gave a talk about the importance of strengthening the public sphere in programs designed to build good governance. In this conceptualization, the public sphere is that space where free and equal citizens discuss, debate, and share information about public affairs in order to influence the policies that affect the quality of their lives. Existing at the cross-roads of media, civil society, public opinion, and state institutions, the public sphere forms an essential element of good governance and accountability.

During the talk, a question arose about whether the public sphere model actually discounted issues such as accountability in favor of building consensus between civil society, media, and government. In my view, this is absolutely not the case, but I can see how such questions arise.

'Communication is Key to Good Government'

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Those are not my words; they belong to the editorial board of The National, Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE). The editorial is quoted in full below. It is a comment on a development: the Cabinet of the UAE has just approved the setting up of a Government Communication Office as part of its modernization agenda. The editorial points out why this is a major development. I draw attention to the editorial because it is an eloquent statement about one of the under-appreciated issues in the governance reform agenda...the vital importance of a government's ability to engage in two-way communication with its own citizens, and why this is one of the reasons why the nature of the public sphere in a country has consequences for the governance outcomes that we seek. About all this, more later. Here is The National: