Jailed Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah – known on Twitter simply as @alaa – made yet another court appearance on Tuesday. And, yet again, his jail time was extended by 15 days. El Fattah lived for some time in Pretoria, and THERESA MALLINSON spoke to his South African friends about their recollections of him – and what steps can be taken to secure his release.
A great irony of the cyber age is the way it connects seemingly incongruous and anachronistic opposites in bizarre and unexpected ways. Now the ragtag though powerful Islamist terror group, Al Shabaab, is taking on the Kenyan army on the battlefields of… Twitter. By SIMON ALLISON.
It's called the African News Innovation Challenge, and it has $1 million to award in start-up grants. Anic, which was announced in October, and had its soft launch in last week, will formally launch in January. THERESA MALLINSON talked to project manager Justin Arenstein about the thinking behind the initiative.
Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah has been detained in prison on trumped-up charges since 30 October. An appeal on Monday for him to be released immediately was dismissed. On Tueday his wife and fellow activist Manal Bahey Al Din Hassan gave birth to the couple's first son, Khaled. El Fattah remained behind bars, rather than being able to attend the birth of child. By THERESA MALLINSON.
After Zanu PF-aligned group Chipangano threatened action against Nando’s for flighting a satirical advert featuring Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (via DStv), the fast-food chain has withdrawn the commercial from our screens. And yes, that includes South Africa. We can still all watch it on YouTube though, where it's gone viral, racking up almost 25,000 hits so far. By THERESA MALLINSON.
As global newspaper audiences decline, some media organisations are latching onto emerging tools and open-source technologies to make news more relevant, personalised, and 'hyper-local'. Investigative journalism is being reinvented and reporters are doing their jobs in unimagined ways. 'Data journalism' is becoming the competitive differentiator for global news. By MANDY DE WAAL.
#trollingobama is a hashtag you'd expect to see used by Republicans. But it was coined by Tunisian internet users, who “occupied” US President Barack Obama's official Facebook page on Sunday night. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Al Jazeera’s English channel is to boldly (very boldly) tread where other news networks have so far only tiptoed, with a television show known as The Stream. It promises to incorporate social media in a way no other network has done before. Or rather, other networks have sort of tried and have been dreadful at it. What will Al Jazeera do differently? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl has been detained in Libya for 10 days – and counting. SA's diplomats say it is a “delicate situation”, and can’t give details of negotiations for his release. Yet four New York Times journalists captured in Libya in March were released after only six days, while, in another great example of great skill and dedication of our government, the South African consulate in Tripoli has yet to locate Hammerl. And it took them eight days to just to contact his family. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Swaziland has turned into a mini-war-zone as police armed to the teeth parade the streets in a public display of military might. Soldiers have been occupying strategic areas, while roadblocks have been mounted across the country in preparation for the planned uprising on Tuesday. Several activists have been arrested, and the Swazi Labour Federation headquarters has been surrounded by police. By MANQOBA NXUMALO.
Since the WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables began their slow trickle in December last year, only a handful of cables from Accra have been made public. Their content can be summed up as drugs, drugs, drugs and oil. Oh, and more drugs. Much of the content wasn't news to anyone, but they did confirm some long-held suspicions about the current administration's hypocrisy regarding drug smuggling. By BAAFOO AHENKORA.
These days there are dozens of online news websites focusing on Zimbabwe. However, many of them are produced in exile, sometimes making them vulnerable to inaccuracies. But a growing number of reputable websites are able to publish news that would otherwise be censored, providing a voice to the voiceless. By VLADIMIR MZACA.
If we ever needed proof Laurent Gbagbo has completely lost control of his army, it’s the latest developments in Abidjan. Armed fighters reportedly broke into the Novotel Hotel late on Monday, seizing five hostages and making off with them before the French army could get there. Surely Gbagbo wouldn’t be that stupid? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
A conference at Wits on media rights and regulations in Africa was a place of passionate debate that recognised depth of the problems we're facing. There was also a clear understanding that the fight for truth, and freedom of expressing it, will be fought across the continent for many years to come. Report by THERESA MALLINSON.
Did you know they have “press rallies” in Malawi? That the media in Senegal is relatively free, but doesn't always report the news responsibly? That most of Kenya's media is owned by politicians? These are just a few of the many interesting – and chilling – facts and opinions that came to light at the panel discussion. But the overwhelming message is that African journalists have a lot to say – and are eager to explore ways that will allow them say it without fear of repercussions. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Ghana has a proud tradition of investigative reporting. Its latest practitioner is Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who specialises in going undercover. He's exposed corruption in cocoa smuggling, the running of mental homes and orphanages, and most recently at the country's main port. Seems apt that he works for a newspaper called The New Crusading Guide. By BAAFOO AHENKORA.
On Thursday afternoon, Nigeria's Freedom of Information (FoI) bill was passed by the house of representatives, without much opposition. However, it still needs to pass the senate and be signed by the president before it becomes law. And with certain areas like law enforcement, the economy, international affairs, and defence potentially exempt from the bill, not all information will be equally accessible. By REMMY NWEKE.
Gregory Stemn had some narrow escapes covering the civil war in Liberia. Even though he now lives in the US, he admits to still hearing bullets flying over his head. Stemn hopes that his recently published book, "Liberia: When Darkness Falls", will be widely distributed in his home country - so that people remember what they've lived through. By MICHAEL KEATING
We hope you're not getting bored with stories about the lack of public participation at Press Council hearings being held around the country. But we can't report on all the interesting points the public is making if they simply don't exist. At least in Cape Town on Thursday the Muslim Judicial Council aired its views – but that was about it. Again. By TO MOLEFE.
Against a backdrop of President Robert Mugabe’s government’s record of media oppression and using state-controlled media to promote the partisan politics of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe’s government of national unity seemed to begin its rule in the perfect way by ending a bloody decade for the media. A pledge to reform media, the appointment of a new media commission to “liberalise” the airwaves and a promise to review the country’s tough media laws brought renewed hope. Pity these commitments have yet to materialise. By RAY NDLOVU.
In many countries where freedom of expression is a foreign concept, the biggest tool used to subdue the media is state repression. In Somalia, as in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, journalists have to contend with the various Islamist militia factions as well. Sometimes they are seemingly arbitrarily thrown in jail, before being released without explanation. Other times they are “officially” sentenced to stay there. By AY MOHAMED.
In Nigeria different organisations regulate computer hardware, the Internet and telecommunications companies. Given the role all these elements play in the online space – and by extension, online media in all its forms – it's about time the Nigerian government seriously looks at merging the regulatory organs. By REMMY NWEKE.
Internet penetration in Ghana is sitting at only 5% and the government is relying on donor funding, rather than its budget, to improve access. So for many media houses, a website is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. And it's the radio stations, not the newspapers, that have been most successful at building an online presence. By BAAFOO AHENKORA.
Having threatened to impose a statutory media appeals tribunal on South Africa – despite global condemnation and in the face of the Constitutional protection of a free media as President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation address – the chief complainant, the ANC, failed even to attend the first hearings of the Press Council on Thursday. By JULIE REID.
The fight between Twitter and the US government on WikiLeaks information that the social network possesses was in court again on Tuesday. WikiLeaks has been targeting the Maghreb with leaks since the uprisings began, and Julian Assange has already indicated that this may form part of his defence against the justice department’s case against him. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
U2 frontman Bono was the target of wide-scale derision this weekend after a story about him apparently supporting ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and that infamous “shoot the boer” liberation song flamed across South Africa – and then circled the globe. But as the world’s most famous Irish band took to the stage at FNB Stadium, music journalists stepped forward to say Bono had been horribly misquoted by the media. By MANDY DE WAAL.
Initially, there was relative press freedom in independent Kenya under Jomo Kenyatta – with the emphasis being on “relative” – but the situation deteriorated during the rule Daniel Arap Moi. This continued under the Kibaki administration, and it is only under the new constitution, since August 2010, that the right to media freedom is guaranteed. By ZACHARY OCHIENG.
Freedom of the press is a tricky issue in Liberia, as in most African countries. While it’s assumed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf played a behind-the-scenes role in the release of editor Rodney Sieh from prison, journalists still suffer threats and intimidation - and with election in October this will only increase. A lack of resources is not helping matters either. By MICHAEL KEATING.
In a country that has spent most of its time since independence engaged in warfare – most often with itself – it's no surprise Somalia's media is weak and journalists under attack. Many journalists have fled into exile, and those that remain live in fear. They also have to negotiate being persecuted on two fronts – by Islamists and the government. By AY MOHAMED.
In Nigeria, the National Press Council regulates the press, while the National Broadcasting Commission oversees the broadcast media. Comparing them is a salutary exercise. Nigeria's Freedom of Information Bill – which will provide access to information for journalists – is currently being debated by the Nigerian House. If and when the FoI Bill is signed into law, the organisation that already has systems in place will benefit most from the free flow of information. And yes, that would be the NBC. By REMMY NWEKE.
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