Syndicate content

May 2011

What Influences Individual Donations to Disaster Victims?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

We see donation appeals everywhere these days - to help the people in Japan, to help the people in Darfur, to help the people in Haiti. What influences our decision to give? An interesting study comes from British psychologists, who analyzed how individuals respond to donation appeals in the wake of man-made disasters - like war - versus natural disasters. The authors around Hanna Zagefka from Royal Holloway University in London found that natural disasters elicit more donations than those caused by people. Their explanation: people tend to assign some blame to the victims of man-made disaster, while they blame no one for being overrun by a Tsunami.

Quote of the Week: Hugo L. Black

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

"The constitutional guarantee of a free press rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society...Freedom to publish means freedom for all and not for some. Freedom to publish is guaranteed by the Constitution, but freedom to continue to prevent others from publishing is not."

-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black

More on Indices: Evaluating the Evaluators

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Building partly on a previous post on the value of indices, I'm highlighting this week a new edited volume published by Peter Lang Press, entitled Measures of Press Freedom and Media Contributions to Development: Evaluating the Evaluators. This rich and informative collection of essays, edited by Monroe Price, Susan Abbott and Libby Morgan, focuses a spotlight on well known indices in the area of press freedom and media independence, raising valuable questions about what the indices are measuring, what they are not measuring, and the linkage between assistance to independent media and democratization. I've contributed a chapter to this volume, as have expert colleagues such as Guobin Yang, Andrew Puddephat, Lee Becker and Tudor Vlad, Craig LaMay, fellow CommGAP blogger Silvio Waisbord, and many others.

Do International Relations Experts Exist?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

There is a lot happening in the world these days. It can truly be said that we live in interesting times. No wonder some are seeing the very end of the world. But one quotidian aspect of the nature of the times  -- revolutions raging, conflicts exploding, bombs going off in every direction -- is that the global media organs whose fare we all consume avidly call into their studios, or unto their pages or websites, certain persons known as  Experts in International Relations. For those so designated it is boom time.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

FreedomInfo.org
Reasons Advanced for Lack of African FOI Laws

"Why does Africa have comparatively few freedom of information laws?

The reasons were explored in a number of papers presented at The First Global Conference on Transparency Research held May 19-20 at Rutgers University-Newark, N.J. (See overall report in FreedomInfo.org.)

One reason is that the western, liberal concept of access to information conflicts with different traditions of citizenship and governance in Africa, said Colin Darch, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. “Indeed, the fact that the African campaigns for legislation per se have either lasted for decades or failed to get off the ground at all may be evidence that the wrong tree is being barked up.”" READ MORE

Engaging Communities to Track the Constituency Budget

Sabina Panth's picture

Philip Thigo and his partner, John Kipchumbah, were a part of the Infonet Project in Kenya that was hosted by the World Social Forum in 2007.  The project proposed the use of technology to create an open information and communication infrastructure to enable communities to build social capital for democratic actions.  The duo were concerned that no marked changes had occurred in the poverty rate in Kenya, despite the apparent economic progress in the country.  The technical skills they acquired from Infonet prompted them to conceive the idea of a Budget Tracking Tool that would connect communities directly with the national development agenda, without the need for a third party or civil society organizations working on their behalf.

Quote of the Week: Barack Obama

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder…In the 21st Century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.”

– U.S. President Barack Obama, “Obama Middle East speech”, BBC News, May 19, 2011

Civil Society: To What Purpose?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

"Associations may socialise individuals into practising core civic and democratic values, such as tolerance, dialogue and deliberation, trust, solidarity, and reciprocity."
 
I'd mentioned in a previous post that I had a few more thoughts on this report on citizen engagement from the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability (Citizenship DRC) at the UK's Institute of Development Studies (IDS). In light of recent conversations at the Bank regarding civil society, I've been thinking about the significance of framing civil society in instrumental terms (i.e., as a means toward an end in achieving sectoral reforms) vs. framing it as a fundamental institution of good governance. 

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Center for International Private Enterprise Development Blog
Strengthening Local Voices for Development: CIPE's 2010 Annual Report

 "CIPE’s 2010 Annual Report features the impact of partnerships around the world that strengthen the citizens’ voices for market-oriented and democratic governance. Whether CIPE partners work to establish youth entrepreneurship education in Afghanistan, strengthen the voice of the private sector in Ukraine, or reinforce transportation route security in Nigeria to reduce the cost of doing business, the 2010 Annual Report emphasizes the high quality and impact that results from programs designed to keep democratic and economic reforms at the forefront of global issues." READ MORE

Charlie Beckett
Social media and democratic governance: the next decade (Wilton Park paper)

"These are the notes for a presentation I gave as part of the Wilton Park conference on ‘media, social media and democratic governance’.

This has been an extraordinary period for news and also for the way that news is created and consumed. I think that we see some substantial trends emerging are more than passing fads or exceptional circumstances. I want to step back a little from the immediate detail of what is happening and try and put it in a conceptual framework that I think will help us frame policy ideas." READ MORE

Why the Pundit Deserves your Sympathy

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Newspaper opinion writers perform an important function. If they didn't, there wouldn't be so many of them because nobody would be reading them. And as a group ---often known as the commentariat --- opinion columnists can be powerful. (See generally a short but important study concerning British opinion writers published in 2008 by Julia Hobsbawn and John Lloyd: The Power of the Commentariat). But writing a weekly or twice-weekly newspaper column is hard, very hard. You have to have something other-than-trite to say; at least you hope so.  You have to write as elegantly as you can. And you have to hope that enough people read you or else the Editor will end your column.  Now, I know this from personal experience because for a good many years I supported myself as a columnist, once writing three columns a week for different newspapers on different subjects, all while trying to earn a degree in law.

Quote of the Week: Hannah Arendt

Sina Odugbemi's picture

 

“Man cannot live without prejudices, and not only because no human being’s intelligence or insight would suffice to form an original judgment about everything on which he is asked to pass judgment in the course of his life, but also because such a total lack of prejudice would require a superhuman alertness.”

- Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics

Outlaw, Sheriff, Posse...Showdown

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In countless movies about America's wild, wild west- - think about the many classic westerns you've seen -- the story follows a familiar pattern. There is a town known as, say, Tombstone where law-abiding citizens go about their daily lives. Outlaws ride into town. They steal, pillage, plunder, kill and maim. Then they ride out of town -- hard. The sheriff, furious, gathers a body of armed citizens on horseback. They are known as the posse. The posse rides out of town, determined to catch the outlaws. It is a hunt. The posse hunts down the outlaws, and there is a showdown. The bad guys are killed or unceremoniously hanged. Justice is deemed served. The sheriff and his posse ride back into town as the music picks up. Citizens welcome them joyously. They are heroes. The moral order is restored, and all is well.

Since the unceremonious dispatching of Osama bin Laden and the huge, visceral reactions to the event by the citizens of the United States - also known as 'a fist pump' moment -- I have been thinking about all my favorite wild, wild west movies. The modern posse is, of course, no longer a group of citizens, but Navy SEALS with superlative skills. And the modern outlaw is a terrorist from another tribe but one able to kill thousands. And the sheriff? Well, who would have believed who the modern sheriff turns out to be!

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Global Voices Advocacy
Nepal: Facebooking Revolt and Censorship

"Arab spring has brought  winds of change into Nepal. On Saturday, May 7, group of young people gathered near Maitighar area of capital Kathmandu demanding speedy resolution to the current deadlocke caused by delay in formulating new constitution. Inspired by a Facebook page Show up, Stand up, Speak up, they conducted peaceful protest and caused quite a stir among local media and politicians not used to citizen media inspired direct activism.

As this bold step by the youth gathered attention, some are criticizing it as a cosmetic move and elite activism which has failed to connect with the mass. “Facebook revolution” is also being called an elaborate hoax." READ MORE

Media Cloud
Media Cloud, relaunched

"Today, the Berkman Center is relaunching Media Cloud, a platform designed to let scholars, journalists and anyone interested in the world of media ask and answer quantitative questions about media attention. For more than a year, we’ve been collecting roughly 50,000 English-language stories a day from 17,000 media sources, including major mainstream media outlets, left and right-leaning American political blogs, as well as from 1000 popular general interest blogs. (For much more about what Media Cloud does and how it does it, please see this post on the system from our lead architect, Hal Roberts.)

We’ve used what we’ve discovered from this data to analyze the differences in coverage of international crises in professional and citizen media and to study the rapid shifts in media attention that have accompanied the flood of breaking news that’s characterized early 2011. In the next weeks, we’ll be publishing some new research that uses Media Cloud to help us understand the structure of professional and citizen media in Russia and in Egypt." READ MORE

To Index or Not To Index

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Here’s an interesting twist on advocacy around anti-corruption: Global Integrity, which publishes the Global Integrity Report on governance and anti-corruption in 107 countries around the world, has stopped publishing its Global Integrity Index, which ranks countries according to their overall scores. While the report still contains quantitative data and qualitative reporting on the health of individual countries’ anti-corruption frameworks, the organization made a conscious decision to discontinue the index aspect of the report.

Why? Apparently, Global Integrity found that while the index generated good publicity for Global Integrity, it was less effective as an advocacy tool. (It also notes that it has scaled down the number of countries it covers, which gives the index less utility.) “Indices rarely change things,” notes Nathaniel Heller on the Global Integrity blog. “Country rankings are too blunt and generalized to be ‘actionable’ and inform real rebate and policy choices.”

CommGAP Launches "Accountability Through Public Opinion"

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

CommGAP is delighted to announce the publication of its third edited volume, "Accountability Through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action." The book is edited by CommGAP's Program Head Sina Odugbemi and Taeku Lee, Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Authors from development practice and academia discuss in 28 chapters how citizens can hold their governments accountable, and how genuine demand for accountability can be created.

The idea for the book was born at a CommGAP workshop in 2007 in Paris on "Generating Genuine Demand with Social Accountability Mechanisms." A few years later, we proudly present a compilation of essays that are relevant for current events in the Middle East and in North Africa as much as for any efforts to strengthen citizen's agency vis a vis their governments.

The Ficha Limpa (Clean Record) Campaign

Sabina Panth's picture

As is the case in many countries of the world, it was not uncommon for candidates running for political office in Brazil to have a criminal record.  The Economist magazine has reported that, at one point, nearly twenty five percent of sitting members of Congress in the country faced criminal charges in the Supreme Court or were under investigation. Most of the crimes involved either violating campaign-finance laws or stealing public money through corruption. The existing law allowed politicians to be tried by the Court, but many cases lapsed before they were heard. Even when the candidates were convicted, the law allowed them to emerge right back, to stand in the next election. 

The (Soft) Power of Preaching What We Practice

Antonio Lambino's picture

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from an old friend in the diplomatic community.   He asked for my “thoughts on a public communications approach to countering terrorism and radicalism” since, he continued, this has been identified as a "gap in the global counter terrorism" arena.  My mind immediately went to an area of applied and scholarly interest that the international affairs community calls “public diplomacy.”  While conceptually contested, there seems to be broad enough agreement on the types of initiatives it encompasses, such as international broadcasting (BBC World Service, Radio Free Europe/Liberty, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, to name a few), scholarships (Fulbright, British Chevening, etc.), international study tours, and other types of academic, cultural, and political exchanges.

Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye argues in a Washington Post op-ed that at the heart of these initiatives is the desire of governments to enhance their “soft power”, defined as “the ability to use attraction and persuasion to get what you want without force or payment.”  Nye's definition suggests that the soft power that undergirds public diplomacy is not limited to enhancing security and defense; it is also relevant to international development.  This type of thinking is particularly critical in projects that seek to influence attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of multiple stakeholders in developing countries.  In this broader sense, cross-national influence is not limited to coercing people, nor is it about manipulating incentives.  It’s largely about appealing to hearts and minds through persuasion, which is only credible when what one says is consistent with what one does.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Movements
Celebrating World Press Freedom Day

“The timing could not have been more perfect for the  World Press Freedom Day events held this week at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., this week. The program focused on both promoting freedom of the press and examining how new and old media are working together. We were there, and thought we would share some important takeaways from todays sessions:

  1. Sucessful Movements Need: the right timing, the right tools, and the right BIG idea.
  2. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile: in more countries than every more people than ever are accesing the internet, and getting their information via mobile phone.
  3. Social media is not killing traditional media- it is reinvigorating it.” READ MORE

Space for Transparency
Why Forests Need Transparency

“The climate change report TI issued this week had a whole section on forest governance. Manoj Nadkarni, manager of TI’s Forest Governance Integrity Programme explains why.

Recently, I’ve been getting a few inquiries about whether we at the Forest Goverance Integrity Programme have an ‘official’ view on the whole concept of the UN’s REDD programme: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

Will REDD work?’ ‘Is the money already going towards REDD being spent properly?’” READ MORE

New Frontiers, New Barriers . . .and the Start of New Conversations?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

World Press Freedom Day is being celebrated today and throughout this week with events around the world. Here in Washington, a veritable who’s who of journalists, free speech advocates, government officials and NGOs have gathered to network and learn from each other at the World Press Freedom Day 2011 conference, hosted at the Newseum by UNESCO and the U.S. Department of State.

This year’s theme is “Twenty-First Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.” Listening to some of the speeches, you can hear a distillation of several points that many of us who support voice and accountability repeatedly stress: the Internet and digital platforms, as well as traditional journalism, have tremendous potential to contribute to freedom of expression, democratic governance, and sustainable development. At the same time, that potential is prevented from its full realization by a host of factors, including governmental and other forms of censorship, surveillance, intimidation, and other means.

Live-Blogs, Live-Streams, Fevered Passions

Sina Odugbemi's picture

These days, there is simply no avoiding the news. In a season of spectacular events coming one on top of the other -- revolutions, tsunamis, slayings of master-terrorists -- it is clearer than ever that we now have unparalleled means to follow what is going on, the very latest developments, even minute by minute updates. You no longer have to wait for the evening news or the hourly news on radio. There are now live-blogs and live-streams of visual images  around major events.  Your computer, even at work, can bring you the very latest news. Click on the Aljazeera live-stream, for instance, and you have a court-side seat in the arena of the Arab Spring. Tweets are updating global audiences on all kinds of issues. If you have a 3G or 4G phone, you can follow the news on the move in living color. And if you have a tablet device...ha, you are in news junkie heaven!

Without a doubt, we are the first humans to run the risk of  drowning in a tempest of news. This has at least three interesting consequences.