THE WARNING SIGNS BEFORE MICROSOFT, D.O.J. FEUD

Every day, people around the world spend more than two billion minutes on the Internet service Skype to call friends, set up conference sessions, or connect with family. Launched in 2003 in Estonia, Skype was such a phenomenal success than eight years later Microsoft bought the company for $8 billon. These days, though, Skype is part of an increasingly crowded field of online communications services, and some tech and privacy experts are recommending that consumers shun Skype in favor of alternatives they believe are more secure. “The level of secrecy that Skype’s developers have kept up about its design and security hasn’t...

Covering ISIS

Only a handful of journalists have gone into ISIS territory and come out alive to report about it. The group’s brutal tactics and its history of violence against journalists mean that most of what the world learns about ISIS, and about life inside the territory it controls, comes from nontraditional reporting – often citizen journalism videos, photos, and dispatches. ISIS itself actively uses social media networks to promote its ideas and to recruit supporters. Twitter has long been a favored ISIS platform, though in early February Twitter announced it had suspended more than 125,000 accounts for ISIS-related promotions of terrorism...

Egypt caught between two narratives

As four Al Jazeera staffers sit behind bars in Egypt, an international campaign to free them is underway. From Berlin to Kabul, hundreds of journalists have protested worldwide calling for their freedom. In Cairo, however, there wasn’t much sympathy for the arrested journalists. On the contrary, many Egyptians cheered on the authorities and their crackdown against the Qatari-owned network. “A bullet might kill a man, but a lying camera kills a nation,” read a poster plastered on a wall near Al Jazeera’s office in Cairo. A photo of a hand dripping blood above the familiar Al Jazeera logo accompanied the chilling quote. The poster...

Iran’s Twitter Politics

On February 5th, a live interview with President Hassan Rouhani was delayed for over an hour on Iranian state TV after an apparent dispute between the official state broadcaster and the president’s office over who would interview him. As Iran’s Channel One filled airtime with songs from the 1979 revolution, a news ticker announced technical difficulties. The broadcast then shifted to an Iranian TV series, leaving audiences to speculate about what had become of the president. The information void was broken when President Rouhani’s Twitter account blasted its 181,000 followers, calling out state TV head and hardliner, Ezatollah...

The Ideas War between the US and Iran

When the U.S. Treasury Department announced in February that economic sanctions would be imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Iran’s state-owned broadcaster, it cited human rights violations as justification for the unusual move. “We will also target those in Iran who are responsible for human right abuses, especially those who deny the Iranian people their basic freedoms of expression, assembly and speech,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in unveiling the restrictions, which also applied to Iranian Cyber Police and other institutions involved in monitoring the...

The Scary Implications of Digital Espionage For Jo...

When the New York Times revealed in late January that Chinese hackers had infiltrated its digital network, including reporters’ email accounts, reaction exploded on Twitter and other social media sites. People speculated that this was yet another example of China’s rising power in the world. But then there was this tweet from writer and reporter Charlie Custer, who manages the translation website ChinaGeeks.com. On the one hand, NYT hacking is a big story. On the other hand, is it? Isn’t this happening to most foreign correspondents constantly? — Charlie Custer (@ChinaGeeks) February 1, 2013 That reminded Howard French, the...

In Journalist Kidnappings, No Set Rules on Media C...

  James Foley was supposed to arrive by 4. It was Thanksgiving, and Foley, a freelance journalist covering the war in Syria for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, was going to meet his friend Nicole Tung, another journalist, in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli to catch up and rest for a couple days. But Foley never showed. “I was starting to worry after 6, 7 p.m., when things were very quiet,” Tung said. “By 10, 11, I knew that something had definitely gone wrong.” When she was finally able to get in touch with someone in Syria who had seen Foley (the witness’s identity is being withheld), Tung learned her friend had been...

Mightier Than the Sword: Political Cartoons in the...

“The best way to escape every day reality is to see cartoons,” says Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer. But cartoonists in the Middle East don’t just entertain. At times, their work is the only way to openly express dissent, in a region where press freedoms remain endangered . Using symbols and allegory to make their point, sometimes cartoonists are the only ones whose message can pass through the censorship. The first images of Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat after he was attacked in Damascus last year showed him lying in a hospital bed with large bruises on his face – and, most tellingly, with his badly broken...

America’s View on Af...

The 17 Afghan civilians allegedly shot and burned in March by American soldier Robert Bales strained relations between the United States and Afghanistan.  The media framing of the event—and the search for answers behind it—also has been very different between the two countries.  While...

Al Jazeera: One Name, Two Channels

Many loyal Al Jazeera English viewers worldwide are drawn to the television network because of its insightful coverage of last year’s Arab Spring uprisings – and its in-depth reporting from the developing world. Since its creation in 2006, the Qatari-based English-language channel has deployed its resources around the world to fulfill a goal of being “the voice of the global south,” though it has done so with a distinctive Western style. The tagline “This is Al Jazeera” echoes James Earl Jones’ signature “This is CNN.” One of its flagship shows, “Inside Story,” analyzes the news of the day by presenting the kind of...