Exploring the media landscape in a country where going to work has become a life-and-death decision for reporters.
On Listening Post this week: The deadly attacks on Somali journalists. Plus, to pay or not to pay? The newspapers’ fight for survival in a digital world.
2012 has been a big year for Somali media – after years of covering civil war, rising insurgency and a battle for resources, Somali journalists reported on the country’s first election in decades. But there is another reason 2012 has been significant: 13 journalists have been killed in the country this year. A suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu on September 20 killed three reporters. Hours later, unidentified gunmen shot dead veteran journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge for covering the explosion.
Al-Shabaab, the armed group operating in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for a number of the killings this year, but they are by no means the only threat. There are no official regulations on what you can or cannot report but journalists trying to cover stories that criticise Al-Shabab, government, big business or certain clans and their leaders, do so at their peril.
In this week’s News Bytes: As Syria’s civil war gets bloodier, journalists and media activists are becoming ever more explicit targets for attack, latest deaths take the tally of professional journalists killed in Syria to 11 while 32 citizen journalists have been killed as well; the decision by the Iranian government to block access to Google’s search and mail services in the country – after widespread protests over the anti-Islam Youtube clip – is being seen as a step towards disconnecting Iran from the world-wide web completely; Vietnam, which has the second largest number of internet dissidents in jail in the world after China, is seeking to push through a new law which would require internet users to register with their real names and would impose further penalties for criticising the regime; Al-Watan, an Egyptian newspaper, is going to head-to-head with French weekly Charlie Hebdo that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed earlier this month. Al-Watan responded by publishing 13 cartoons depicting how the West sees the Muslim community in a post-9/11 world.
Our feature this week looks at the future of online news. In the early days of the internet websites competed with each other for your attention. Each new visitor to the website was an achievement. But things have changed. The battlefield may be the same but the war is now being faught for your money. And fighting the battle the hardest is the newspaper in the street. For years, print publications watched helplessly as the internet ate into their market.
However, over the past two years newspapers have been fighting back. They have barricaded their websites behind paywalls – if you want to read you have got to pay. In July 2010 the Times of London set up its paywall; now there are numerous newspapers sites charging for access. The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips investigates who is winning the online war.
Finally, Listening Post has succumbed to the unrelenting viral power of gangnam style. The addictive, be-bopping, hot-stepping South Korean tune by Psy has had nearly 280 million Youtube views and spawned many parodies. Our favourite one has been put together by ‘Barely Political’, a group of online satirists in the US, and it imagines what the gangnam style song would have been like had it been produced across the border – in North Korea. ‘Kim Jong style’ is our video of the week.
Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.
Click here for more Listening Post.