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Connecting Europe – EU Elections (1) April 21, 2009

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 By Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris 

This is the first of a series of articles related with the June 2009 European Elections.  

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European what?

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The starting point is something called Predict09 (www.predict09.eu), a website where we can find an accurate prediction of the European elections results. Combined with the conclusions of the last Eurobarometer (EB71) (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_en.htm) one thing is pretty clear: people don’t care about these elections, and more than 40% will probably not even vote. ConnexionOne could argue that that’s the natural reaction when you have an election with an incredible lack of “politicization” but there’s another crucial factor while explaining the social disinterest and that’s the absence of a tough strategy of political communication. What do we have to do to motivate the national media, the newspapers, the radio stations and TV to speak about different subjects from an European point of view?

 

At this point if someone expected a “yes, we can” and a list of things to do he will be probably disappointed. The answer to this question is that these medias will continue to inform mostly about national issues. And the reason is purely economical.

When you have an election where the second major party (the Party of European Socialists) does not present any candidate for President of the Commission (giving almost automatically before the vote the presidency to the conservative candidate J.M Barroso), you don’t have that much to write about.. No political battle, no political interest, no selling, no covering by the traditional media. That’s the equation. That simple. (more…)

Is Internet narrowing our view? February 3, 2009

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by Emmanuel Neisa

Here in India I receive two daily newspapers, The Hindu and The Times of India. However, I can’t help going to the Internet to consult the daily news. Internet users all over the world have changed their way to ‘consume’ news, tending to retrieve the important information from a number of newspaper websites, blogs and other sites on the web.

Even if in 80% of the countries newspaper circulation has been stable or continued to grow last year, in developed economies, they are facing the worst crisis in their history. A strong decrease in newspapers’ sellings has forced restructuring in diaries such as Le Monde and The New York Times –which has now debts for more than $1 billion-. With the spread of the Internet, catching readers’ attention is becoming more and more difficult as people can shift easily from a news source to another.

This map of the Internet realized by researchers fromBar Ilan University shows how is the content organized in the web

This map of Internet realized by researchers from Bar Ilan University shows how the content is organized in the web

Internet is now becoming the hub for political information and discussions and the recent Obama campaign confirms its importance in shaping the public opinion. It is said to have brought openness into our world, allowing us to meet people from diverse realities and opinions. However, communautarism in the web seems to go in the opposite sense of that supposed openness.

The information shift towards the Internet is not without consequences and changes the way we perceive current news and form our own opinion. What is exactly happening with the public discussion and what is Internet changing?

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Government control over Media in Latin America December 1, 2008

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By Emmanuel Neisa

In September, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, the son of the well known Peruvian writer, released Consecuencias, a four parts documentary about Latin America today. Through its four episodes – Autoritarismo, Populismo, Indigenismo, Dictadura-, the documentary explores the key events that marked Latin American history and that still influence it nowadays. The broadcasting rights were bought by National Geographic for Latin America but Venezuela’s government banned the part dealing with Chavez and Populism. This is not really surprising of a country where in 2004 the controversial RESORTE law (Law for the Social Responsibility of Radio & Television) was voted and where the broadcast license of Radio Caracas TV  -that was operating for 20 years- was denied a renewal, because it was accused of plotting against the Government.

Venezuela seems to be the only part in Latin America where the medias are controlled in such a strict way. In fact, since the end of dictatorships in the 80’s and with the democratization of the subcontinent, the media gained in autonomy and in some countries became extremely critical against governments, specially on issues related to corruption.

However, it would be ingenious to think that governments throughout Latin America have stopped controlling the media. A recent study realized by the Argentinian Association for Civil Rights and the Open Society-Justice Initiative explains what are the new mechanisms by which they continue to interfere. This not only raises the issue of the freedom of expression in Latin America, but also questions the real state of its democratization process, and opens the debate on how the continent will deal with these new threats. Even if this study focus on Latin America, its conclusions can be true for many realities.

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Bridging the Informational Divide: Technology cannot do it alone October 21, 2008

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by Emmanuel Neisa

Over the past years, politicians, development agencies and international relations scholars have become aware of the the role that ICT’s (Information and Communication Technologies) can play achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In fact, poverty is often linked to extreme isolation in developing countries, and ICT’s will be essential in the following years to convey services and information to these zones, but also to empower local communities, bringing them new opportunities and pushing up their development. (more…)