The CSS Blog Network

The Media – a Hostage’s Friend or Foe?

The story of The New York Times journalist David Rohde’s escape from his captors in Afghanistan raises interesting questions about the role of the media in hostage takings. As has been widely reported, the major media outlets displayed a high level of solidarity by keeping mum about Rohde’s capture for 7 months. By resisting their natural urge to report the hostage taking of one of their peers, the international journalism corps honored the request of Rohde’s family and The New York Times not to make the story public.

Some commentators refer to this “media blackout” as a mere case of “professional courtesy.” They point out the double-standard of journalists seeming to be more concerned about a hostage’s safety when the victim is a member of their own profession. At the same time, they freely report on the hostage taking of aid workers, soldiers, or tourists.

The intriguing question here is, however, did this “media blackout” strategy work in Rohde’s case? We have no way of answering this question. After all, Rohde did not get released. He escaped his captors. » More

ISN Weekly Theme: Global Trade

Tea Stall

A woman at her tea stall in India, funded by microfinancing / photo: mckaysavage, flickr

This week’s theme is global trade, with a wide-ranging selection of topics discussing the issue:

The Wild Wild South

Cover of Courrier International No 970

Cover of Courrier International No 970

Now, that’s a change. Europe has been Africa’s Eldorado for years, but it looks as if the reverse is now true, too.

Among the countless ‘boat people’ and ‘fortress Europe’ headlines, two articles caught my eye. In the same issue, Courrier International reports about Portuguese immigrants in Angola (pay site) and it reproduces a Wall Street Journal piece on French people with North African roots emigrating to Morocco.

The paper says that about 100,000 Portuguese live in Angola at the moment. They get better career opportunities there than back home, especially with the oil economy booming. That figure is pretty impressive when you think that the Angolan civil war only just ended in 2002.

At the same time, something similar is happening between France and Morocco. Many young educated French-born people with Moroccan roots  decide to migrate to the country of their parents or grandparents. They have access to better jobs and social recognition in Morocco. Life is still pretty difficult for people with an Arab name in France. » More

One Man’s ‘Burden’ is Another’s Refugee

Eritrean refugee in Sudanese camp, Khashm el Girba / photo: daveblume/flickr

Eritrean refugee in Sudanese camp, Khashm el Girba / photo: daveblume/flickr

Every year, 20 June marks World Refugee Day . The UNHCR notes that for the 42 million uprooted people around the world, “a shortage or lack of the essentials of life – clean water, food, sanitation, shelter, health care and protection from violence and abuse – means that every day can be a struggle just to survive.”

So how could this situation be improved? In the first of his lectures as part of the Reith Lecture Series 2009 , Harvard professor Michael Sandel discusses the idea of tradable refugee quotas. In this system, each country would be allocated a yearly quota based on national wealth. Then, states would be free to buy and sell these obligations – and, according to market logic, everyone benefits: Countries unwilling to accept refugees meet their obligations through outsourcing, those willing to accept gain a new source of revenue, and more refugees are rescued than would otherwise find asylum. » More

Twitter: The ‘Forest Gump of International Relations’

Weighing Twitter trust / screenshot: Twitter search

Weighing Twitter trust / screenshot: Twitter search

This is just a tiny, tiny word of caution to remember as we take in the Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and other user-generated content from Iran.

First, although it’s invigorating to see the amount of info being passed on Twitter, I think there may be a quantity vs quality issue going on. I won’t go as far as Kara Swisher and call it the ‘Forrest Gump of International Relations’, but some of the tweets I’m seeing are…well…if not exactly Forrest Gump material, then maybe that of his long lost cousin who made it out of Savannah, Georgia before he did.
» More

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