Sometimes you see a set of human beings in action and you say to yourself: these are far braver souls than I am. That has been my reaction to the astonishing efforts of thousands of active citizens in countries like Libya, Yemen and Syria over the last several months. These hardy souls have kept up a struggle for a different set of governance arrangements where they live...knowing full well that each day they participate they are likely to be beaten, arrested or killed. Yet they have kept it up, day after day, week after week, month after month. In Libya, help came from the skies above, but citizens have still had to do the heavy lifting. They still are.
In recent months, it’s become more evident that journalism is a dangerous business. Yet, good journalism is crucial for good governance and for an informed citizenry. During the uprisings in North Africa and in the Middle East, journalists, professional and citizens alike, have been beaten, imprisoned, or gone missing for reporting (or trying to report) facts and stories from the ground. The sad truth is that the number of attacks on the press around the world is increasing. In fact, there has been a dramatic increase in the last decade.
The other day we received a paper from our colleagues at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on "Deepening Participation and Improving Aid Effectiveness through Media and ICTs." I made it until point 3 of the executive summary before I felt a blog post coming on. Read for yourself: "1) Starting as a magic solution from its beginnings, ICTs are now considered as just another normal media channel useful for enhancing the effectiveness of development cooperation programs. 2) It is not the technology that counts; it is the economic and social processes behind the technology that drives the change. 3) Thus, ICTs are instrumental, not a goal in itself, and they should serve to improve the practice of development cooperation."