news


Photo by Carpetblogger through a Creative Commons license


The story about primary school children being given lessons in gender equality as part of a government campaign to tackle domestic violence by 2011 was headline news on 25 November, which was Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Here’s just a sample of the coverage from: the BBC; The Guardian; New Statesman and the Daily Mail.
Five days later it was in China View that I first got to read about a 16-day campaign to eliminate violence against women in Afghanistan.
The New York Times also picked up the story with a piece headlined Rape In Afghanistan A Profound Problem, U.N. Says
News agency AFP was at the same press briefing with Norah Niland, Chief Human Rights Officer of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Violence targeting women and girls is widespread and deeply rooted in Afghan society. It is not adequately challenged and condemned by society and institutions,” said Norah Niland. “The space for women in public life is shrinking. The trend is negative.
“It’s also a problem because there is very little possibility of finding justice, there is no explicit provision in the 1976 Afghan penal code that criminalises rape.

A journalist who frequently travels to Afghanistan told me it has become almost impossible to find editors interested in stories about women in the country.
“We’ve done it already” is a familiar refrain heard in newsrooms when stories are put forward about women in Afghanistan, about honour crimes, about domestic violence.
Can you imagine an editor saying ‘Sorry, we did a story about a sacked football manager last week’? Since when did stories about women become so “niche”?
The line at the end of the China View piece was particularly striking:

Some 100 women in attempt to get rid of miseries mostly due to domestic violence, according to media reports have committed self-immolation over the past one year in Afghanistan.

The BBC did look at Afghan women who turn to immolation in March this year and November 2006 and there are organisations such as the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan are working to highlight the issue
I know that it can often be a question of resources for cash-strapped news organisations and that a story has to be “new” to make the news, but I’ve heard some fascinating and shocking and depressing stories about women around the world that are unlikely to ever see the light of day in a national news paper or on a news bulletin. It’s a reminder that you have to look beyond the mainstream news agenda to get a balanced diet.

Advertisements

The news bulletins during Kate Silverton’s Five Live programme yesterday included three grim stories:

The discovery of six bodies in the home of convicted rapist Anthony Sowell in the US city of Cleveland, Ohio.

The attack in Liverpool of trainee policeman James Parkes and the candlelit vigil attended by 1,500 people.
Kate Silverton followed this up by playing Rod Stewart’s Georgie Boy, opening a discussion about a 14 per cent rise in homophobic attacks including the murder of Ian Baynham in Trafalgar Square with this:

As a teenager I remember listening, this was in the 80s to this track by Rod Stewart the killing of The Killing of Georgie, a song about a gay man killed simply for being gay and I remember distinctly thinking at the time that such a terrible thing really couldn’t happen today. That was in the 80s and here we are again seeing exactly the same kind of violence meted out to someone just because they are deemed to be different, strange, not normal, whatever justification someone uses to turn against someone else.

Emily Carr, the woman attacked by Marlon King provoked a different discussion when she called for the footballer to be given a lifetime ban: George Riley’s report focused on the theme of the Wigan Athletic forward’s career and the backing he received from Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballer’s Association.

So what makes for the different approaches: that it’s a footballer doing the punching, or is it less shocking if a woman gets punched?

Talking to Kate Silverton about the homophobic attacks Dr Matthew Waites, senior lecturer sociology Glasgow university, said calling it hate crime was “complex” – it implies it’s an issue for a small minority of people.

His suggestion that it was an issue of masculinity got lost as the conversation moved on.. Masculinity, gender, violence: they just don’t seem to fit in a radio show discussion.

I went to the Convention on Modern Liberty at the Institute of Education in London yesterday.
I first went to the Blogger’s Summit that the chair Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy has written about here.
Interesting observation from Heather Brooke of Your Right to Know that whereas in the US electronic data and information is readily available, those in power in the UK regard information as something that “belongs to them” and not the people.
Ben Goldacre whose run-in with LBC is described below described amusingly how new media tools could be used for “chaotic, puerile disseminated investigative journalism”.
It was an event that brought together people across the whole political spectrum.. and covered a wide range of subjects as one of its organisers Henry Porter outlines here and here.
Peter Oborne’s comments about the media-political class inspired me to read his book The Triumph of the Political Class and so far its analysis of a political elite that exists for its own advancement is very persuasive – and goes some way to explain the apparent disconnect between the governing class and the people, no matter what political party they are in.
There was also some discussion about the impact that an economic slump will have on liberty and questions raised about the role the mainstream media would play if discontent leads to civil unrest.
Another book, Shafted, published later this month to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the miners’ strike examines some of the pitfalls journalists fell in.
What are the lessons to be learnt from the likes of Nicholas Jones who contributes to the book? What role will “chaotic, puerile disseminated investigative journalism” play? How important was yesterday’s convention as a step towards the fulfillment of what Sunday’s Observer editorial says is the obligation of every citizen – “vigilance and resistance” to the restriction of “freedoms” and “conceptions of the moral autonomy of the individual to act without impediment by the state”?

The Altermodern exhibition opened at Tate Britain yesterday… French cultural theorist Nicolas Bourriaud who identified ‘relational aesthetics‘ as an emerging art movement curated it – and claims it marks the end of postmodernism and the emergence of the ‘Altermodern’.
Bourriaud’s thinking is outlined in a manifesto and will be presented in his new book, the Radicant, this month.

I wrote a piece on it for Palladium magazine, which isn’t published online. I was interested to see if the claim that postmodernity had given way to the ‘Altermodern’ would create much interest.

In the nationals: The Telegraph’s Richard Dorment gives it a thorough review; and The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones examines the ideas behind it.
The Times also gives it a show.

But maybe days when many of us have had our lives hemmed in by snow aren’t the best for wrestling with Bourriaud’s arguments about the impact of globalisation on art.

Art collectors and critics have been sceptical – one I spoke to said it was a lot to do with the Tate wanting to assert itself as cutting edge:

“Bringing in Bourriaud is just re-establishing the Tate as a brand leader,” says David Gleeson, art historian and writer. “I suspect it’s a move to show just how serious, academic and hard-hitting and in the know it is. A brand new theory will establish the Tate as international, cool, cutting edge, sharp and clever. All the major reviewers will give it pages. In a way it’s as big as the new limited edition Barbie. Anything in that bracket where they are bringing out something new knowing that there is already a demand for it, is an enviable position to be in. ”

Steve Hewlett focused on how twitter was used during the Mumbai attacks on the Media Show today.
Among those interviewed was Rory Cellan Jones who blogs about Mumbai and Twitter here.

Over on The Ushahidi Blog, Ory Okollah reflects on how her open-source crisis project fared in the DRC.

Okollah points to the need for a strong blogging community such as those that exist in Mumbai and in Kenya – where the project was first launched as a tool for people who witness acts of violence after the election.

The nature of the crisis in DRC also played a part: “As one person closely involved in assisting people affected by the crisis in DRC pointed out to me, in a crisis situation most people are on the run – they don’t have time to file reports etc. In a place like Eastern DRC that is compounded by things like electricity cuts so phones can’t be charged; difficulties having the resources to buy credit so the SMS functionality doesn’t really help them…”

The project got some coverage in Forbes and Kenya’s Daily Nation.