A new UNESCO report highlights the ways in which technological advances along with the most recent economic crisis have molded the media landscape. According to the report, advances in freedom of expression have emerged alongside challenges created by internet censorship, filtering, blocking, and surveillance. Some areas have seen a loss of momentum in media freedom due to political transitions and ineffective implementation of media freedom laws. On the other hand, even with a handful of companies dominating traditional and online media, “the vast expansion of information sources and platforms has positively impacted media pluralism.” The World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development report is openly-licensed and available online through UNESCO’s website here.
A number of related ideas were discussed during yesterday’s Hash #Tags and European Politics: Social Media and the 2014 European Elections conference. Having worked in the traditional paradigm of left/right ideology for their entire careers, European leaders are overwhelmed by the changes brought by IT and social media, says Alec Ross, former advisor for innovation to Hillary Clinton. Ross delivered a keynote speech at the conference. The new construct is that of open vs. closed information and political systems, added Ross. Furthermore, while new media tends to reward extreme voices, it also creates an opportunity for those politicians who can adapt and learn how to interact with their voters and followers in a meaningful way. Follow the hashtag #EP2014SMP on Twitter for more about what was discussed in the meeting.
However, a recent brief by the European Parliamentary Research Service concludes that the impact of increased social media use on future elections is still uncertain, suggesting that social media may only have a very limited effect on engaging otherwise disengaging citizens. Figure below via EPRS.
Finally, Leela Jacinto writes an in-depth analysis on foreignpolicy.com of the upcoming elections in Afghanistan. While there is much talk of a new way in Afghan politics, the past, Jacinto argues, is “threatening to rudely barge into the future,” as a result of current President’s Hamid Karzai’s policies which have never stressed reconciliation with the past. In this context, it is likely that the Taliban will return to a position of influence as a result of most Afghan leaders, as well as the international community now supporting a policy of negotiations and appeasement.
In the Press Review section of the GovFaces blog you will find regular updates on important social, political, and economic issues of the day. Items presented here and in the Analysis & Opinion sections do not necessarily reflect the views of GovFaces.