Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

Three-piece update on a busy week in the fight against corruption

20 February 2009

This week has been a pretty busy one for global anti-corruption activists. On Tuesday, Transparency International honoured two investigative journalists, David Leigh of the Guardian(UK) and Roman Shleynov of Novaya Gazeta (Russia). David and Roman are the recipients of the 2008 Integrity Awards. The winners of the Integrity Awards are extremely brave individuals who often accept great personal risk to expose corruption, as Georg sadly had to highlight a short while ago. This is what TI says:

Transparency International’s (TI) Integrity Awards honour the work of these courageous individuals and organisations that make a real difference in the fight against corruption. From accountants and public prosecutors to government officials and pharmacologists, their backgrounds may be diverse, but the message is the same: corruption can be beaten.

TI’s 2008 Integrity Awards pay tribute to two remarkable investigative journalists, David Leigh and Roman Shleynov, whose untiring determination to expose corrupt dealings in the face of formidable odds serve as inspiration to the anti-corruption movement.

Integrity Awards 2008
Huguette Labelle, Chair of TI with Integrity Awards 2008 winners David Leigh and Roman Shleynov (left to right)

A slideshow with photos from this year’s ceremony can be viewed here.

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Promoting anti-corruption in Egypt

12 January 2009

How to promote anti-corruption activities and transparency in countries with challenging political environments for civil society organisations and journalists such as the Middle East?

Again, the internet is one of the most promising channels, according to Hany Ibrahim from the Development and Institutionalization Support Center DISC, as he states in an article just published on PoliticsOnline titling In Egypt, Fighting Corruption through Internet.

The organisation has developed an interesting website called Nazaha meaning “Transparency and Integrity” aiming at raising public awareness about corruption. The website, available only in Arabic,

provides downloadable tools for journalists, members of elected Local Councils, and NGO’s leaders, enabling them to investigate, uncover, and fight corruption. Moreover, the website monitors and documents corruption cases circulated by 23 (party, state-run, and independent) newspapers. The documentation is divided into seven categories: (1) corruption in health sector; (2) corruption in housing; (3) corruption in primary education; (4) corruption in higher education; (5) corruption in transportation; (6) corruption in supplies; and (7) corruption in local administrative units. The documentation is necessary for analysis of the data and interpretation of the causes and effects of corruption on the life of the people, particularly the poor and the marginalized.

A similar concept is followed by a project undertaken by Transparency International’s Moroccan chapter under the name Observatoire National de la Corruption.

These examples show that sometimes very easy concepts such as gathering and documenting relevant information already available in the public sphere, such as newspapers and news magazines, in one place, preferably available online, as well as providing key advocates with materials may they need to make their case, can be incredibly powerful.

Documenting and categorizing corruption cases is important. But making them public by matching and mapping them in an easy and accessible fashion should be the next important step to identify hotspots of corruption in a given country. Public monitoring, including by the affected citizen, will be the most effective process to effect change on public institutions.

Sri Lankan editor and Integrity Awards winner shot dead

9 January 2009

The assassination of Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga comes as a shock to the anti-corruption community. Wickramatunga was editor of the Sunday Leader and winner of Transparency International’s 2000 Integrity Award, awarded to honor his fearless efforts in exposing corruption in Sri Lankan politics.

Sanjana Hattotuwa from Vikalpa, a citizen journalism initiative located in Sri Lanka, posts an interesting comment on ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) stating that:

It’s really horrible that it takes an event of such a tragic nature to propel our work higher in this list [top 100 list on YouTube amongst Reporter’s Channel worldwide], but it does also demonstrate once again that short videos on YouTube in particular, and online video in general, can be a powerful platform for activism and advocacy. (…)

Vikalpa’s YouTube Channel channel reaches and generates far more people and interest respectively than its website, which gets around 350 readers on average a day. This is significant in a country that does not enjoy good bandwidth (most of the viewers and readers are from Sri Lanka). It suggests that online video – especially short videos – can be and are re-distributed, cross-featured, emailed the links to, embedded, downloaded and copied and if their license allows it, re-worked and re-edited to create viral campaigns, including those on social networks such as Facebook and Myspace, that can meaningfully strengthen real world activism and advocacy against violence.

These observations are very relevant when looking at supporting, recognising and advocating for the work anti-corruption activists all around the globe, but also, when looking at covering corruption by activists such as the series of YouTube-videos on police corruption in Morocco show (see example).

Sunday Leader Editor in Chief Lasantha Wickremetunge murdered – English, documentary by Vikalpa.

A video on the 2000 Integrity Awards ceremony will be available on YouTube shortly and integrated in this post [Unfortunately we couldn’t make this available as digitalizing the VCR was not possible for an affordable amount].

For more information see TI’s international press release, the press release of TI’s chapter in Sri Lanka, as well as a feature by the BBC.

Successful panel at IACC

6 November 2008

About 100 participants attended the workshop on social media at the 13th IACC. Saturday, 5 pm, room MC3, one level below the earth. Darius Cuplinskas, Director of the Information Programme at the Open Society Institute moderated the panel made up by Ellen Miller, Sunlight Foundation, Julian Assange, Advisory Board of Wikileaks, Inés Selvood, Clarin newspaper and University of Buenos Aires, Nicolas Hernández, OCASA and Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

It was quite a diverse group that looked from very different viewpoints at the issue of using social media in the fight against corruption.

Ellen Miller gave an overview of the great work the Sunlight Foundation has been doing over the years looking at accountability and transparency via the innovative use of technology and internet (see also her post on this blog).

Julian Assange presented the concept of the website wikileaks.org, an anonymous platform for whistleblowers to expose sensitive documents, and a research tool for journalists.

Inés Selvood looked from a journalist’s perspective at the question of how blogs can and are used for the objectives of civil society organisations, challenging the role of traditional journalism and presenting concepts of alternative and citizen journalism.

With a view at using the interactive concepts of social media such as chat and networking functionalities via facebook Nicolas Hernández presented how OCASA uses them for their youth education programme.

Finally, how user-orientated tools of social media can be used to empower citizen and support civic action was illustrated by Shaazka Beyerle on the example of Egypt’s facebook revolution (see here and here)

Let me just highlight one intriguing question that came from the audience. How does social media not only change the way corruption can be tackled, but also, how do civil society organisations need to change to use these tools and concepts adequately? And indeed it seems that traditionally grown organisations will need to adapt their advocacy approaches to make these concepts work and be able to engage more effectively with the citizens who are able and willing to be join the efforts and do their part.

All in all, it was a great expert panel. Only downside was that there was not enough time for questions and feedback from the audience. But you can do that now right here on the blog. So, with the interest in the workshop and the apparent need to analyse today’s opportunities arising with the social web, I am happy to continue this blog and provide a space for discussion and ideas.