Thursday, July 31, 2014

Viva America and Ohio

By Dr. Awad Ibrahim Awad (SUSI 2014 scholar)

Before I come to America I was putting a lot of scenarios in my mind about this great country. All through the way in the plane I asked myself about what form of life I may see in America? After a long journey of twenty-four hours from Khartoum via Cairo via Frankfurt the Lufthansa plane landed at the airport of Chicago. It was 8 pm , despite the fact that sunlight was still emitting from all directions. I could not believe my eyes while I was looking and wandering all over the giant airport. The atmosphere was nice, and the place was so sophisticated and elegant. I found before my eyes an American family consisting of a husband and his wife who also wanted to go to Columbus on the same trip of mine. The accident put us in one place for long hours before the plane took off in the next morning. That was the 20th June 2014. We spent all the night talking about America. They told me about life, and how young generations are handling their own way in all activities they do. On the other hand I explained to them how people survive in Africa, and how they struggle for survival in some parts of the third world.

It was a great surprise to me when I found those two people, deal with me as if I were a close friend to them. They talked to me about their family which consists of a son and two daughters. They also explained how the nature of human life is unique in the U.S. They told me how the new Americans deal with the current inventions of technology, how they behave, how they eat, how they learn, and how they build their future. We talked about the freedom which the American constitution gave to the people through the first amendment in the late eighteenth century. This freedom had contributed so much to the development of this great nation. Suddenly we discovered that our dialogue has involved other passengers who were sitting around on benches waiting for the departure of their planes to take them to their different places. The common denominator among all those people around me was their beauty, simplicity, and their good conduct. In short, they were most beautiful and much better than what was in my mind about the American people.

One of the reasons for that marveling was the distorted picture portrayed in our  minds in many countries of the Third World about America. They told us over the years that America is the ghoul who kills people, creates problems, persecutes religions, and colonizes all the innocent countries of the world. And we lived most of our lives fearing and hating America. Whenever we try to love America our media makes us turn away more and more from that love, so that we ignored any positive talk about it when we met with any Americans in the different parts of the world.
I am now in the heart of America, and even in one of its largest airports, the beautiful Chicago airport. This airport witnesses an aircraft landing and take-off at every minute throughout the morning and evening hours. I saw people of all the human races, colors, and languages going and coming in this international airport. Thousands of people walking around in this great airport as if they were in the greatest day of Hajj. All of us paid tribute to the role of America in the entire world, and to the role played by the University of Ohio which is inviting me and other scholars since its inception. After the expiration of the specified period of waiting I came to the conclusion that the U.S government had really created a prosperous and modern lifestyles for her people and others around the world.

At 8:15 AM an elegant van of Ohio University came and took me with the other colleagues from Adams Hall were we live to the Scripps 211. This is the usual time of our daily departure to resume our activities. The timetable was very rich, and the day was full of lectures like the rest of the days. Through this program we met with many university professors from different American universities. They all came to lecture us in media and communication aspects. They gave lectures about the press, radio and television, news agencies, communication systems, advertising, marketing, management of media outlets, conduct of communication research, techniques of modern media, community media, as well as media coverage during the times of war and peace. 

Prof. Awad (right) with his friend Prof. Ellard Spencer Manjawira

We had many visits to the university libraries which are very rich of references in all aspects of knowledge. We learned how to use the modern networks to save and retrieve information through computers that have been developed all over the place. 

As a part of the program all scholars were supposed to fill a weekly sheet of assessment for the activities of the week. This assessment is always confidential and not shown to any person except the leaders of the program for the sake of development. That is because they want to enhance their performance year by year.

After that nice conversation we entered the plane heading to the airport of Columbus the capital of Ohio state. Beyond the exit of immigration and passports procedures I came to the departure lounge to find a lovely two girls waiting for me at the main gate. They were from University of Ohio. One of them was American, and the second was Jamaican. They both do their post graduate studies at the University of Ohio. Therefore they work as assistances for the SUSI program of communication.

We spent an hour and a half traveling on board the vehicle to the headquarters of Ohio University in the town of Athens. I met Prof. Mary T. Rogus the SUSI Academic Director who took me by her car to Prof. Yusuf Kalyango the director of the Institute of International journalism. Kalyango told one of his assistance to take me to the headquarters of the housing allocated to the professors involved in the program inside the campus. When I arrived at the campus of Ohio University I found the residence was most prestigious like luxury hotels in some countries. My room number is 163, and it is very clean and comfortable. There is a shared toilet between me and my neighbor in the room 161. There is also a small refrigerator which is quite adequate for one person, and a microwave for heating or cooking the food. There are two beds covered with nice sheets and a blanket to face the cold of winter, although we have come in summer. There is also a small table and chair for the writing and reading. Another similar table was found to put the bags and widgets on it. I entered my room and slept for long time after that long travel from home to America.

The program is called the SUSI Program, and it is developed by the University of Ohio. It invited scholars from 18 countries around the world to participate in the round of 2014.

The program lasted for six consecutive weeks. During these weeks we learned a lot from the lectures and the visits which were also very comprehensive and useful for getting knowledge. We became very aware of the American media, how it began, how it evolved, how it works, and how it reaps huge profits from the market. We also met with a number of editors of newspapers and magazines and different authors of  books in America.

During the program we learned a lot about the international media systems. Each and every participant has talked about the media in his or her own country. We knew about the media in Sudan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Zambia, Myanmar, India, Russia, Costa Rica, Chile, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Hong Kong, Finland, Romania, Lebanon, Australia, and Kazakhstan. Through these lectures we knew how the media works in the different parts of the world. The SUSI put all the presentations of the scholars on line to be accessed by whoever enters the websites of the University of Ohio. It is now easy for everybody to get the information accompanied by pictures and graphics at any time and any place.

The program involved many visits to a number of U.S. cities and states in order to identify some of the important media institutions. It involved beside Ohio the states of California, Georgia, Maryland, and the federal capital of America Washington, D C. During these tours the scholars visited a number of media organizations such as: CNN, Voice of America, the National Radio of the United States, the U.S. Congress, the headquarters of the Department of Google, many American theaters, newspapers publishing houses, the house of African-Americans newspaper, museum of journalism, and the country of Amish in northern Ohio state.

Indeed, I began to think for the first time how this great America is inviting all this big number of scholars year by year to get a lot of experience and benefits from this country! For the sake of what do the officials in the Department of State pay for the travel of these scholars, their accommodation, their transportation, their entertainment, as well as their education. At the same time they offer them free visas from the American embassies located in their countries! Then they deport them to the most expensive international airlines. And in the end they give them certificates signed by the heads of departments of the University of Ohio. That is great, and nobody can do it except America. It was indeed a great experience which made ​​me one of the biggest fans and lovers of America. So thanks SUSI, thanks Ohio University, thanks America for all what you have one for us.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Native American Culture.. a look into the past

Yousef Kazim, 2014 SUSI Scholar

In our first cultural trips as SUSI 2014 Scholars was to the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ohio, which was a great opportunity to have a closer look to mounds and earthworks that were built by Native American hands almost 2,000 years ago.

The most interesting thing about those Hopewell Indians earthworks that they were in the form of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes and in different sites, which might force you to ask yourself: how come that those Hopewell Indians knew that much about geometry and architecture?

During that visit, I tried – for the first time in my life – to practice a new thing which was Video Editing, and to be honest, it was a good start, and I wish you share the result of that experience through having a look to my "Native American Culture" short documentary.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Took a "Selfie" With The President!

Yousef Kazim

A few weeks ago, I thought that taking a "Selfie" will be something that people in United States are used to! Because usually through social media platforms such as "Instagram" you'll find thousands of "Selfie" pictures posted mostly by Americans especially celebrities, or maybe they still remember Allen DeGeneres's 2014 Oscar's Selfie which was one of the most famous examples when you say the word "Selfie"!, but I was surprised that they were looking at me in a strange weird way when I was holding my "Selfie Stick" and waving to my phone's camera! And I was like: What? Am just taking a Selfie!

"Selfie" was one of the most trended terms through social networks and platforms that was used in the beginning by Australian's, and now it’s a well-known term. which is a "Self-Portrait" photograph that typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or a smart phone's front camera and usually used in some social networking services.

In fact, I was addicted to "Selfie's" since I had my first camera integrated phone "Nokia" back in college when i studied at Kuwait University during 2001 and at that time my friends were making fun of me when I face my phone's camera to take a photo of my face.. and posing. But now it became a common thing almost among all smart phones users, especially if they are so into social media platforms and using Instagram to be more specific, and that could be a way for some of them to gain and get more likes, comments and followers in that social network platform.
Using My Selfie Stick with my fellow Prof.Arona 

"Instagram images with a face in them will get 38% more likes and they’re also get 32% more comments, reveals latest research at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs. The research analyzed at 1.1 million photos on Instagram and found that pictures with  faces in them are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. Images with faces in them are also 32 percent more likely to attract comments." (Gilbert, 2014).

"Selfie" with The President Dr.McDavis
During the welcome ceremony which held in Ohio University in Athens for the SUSi scholars - who are participating in this academic program which is founded by the USA Government and organized by the International Institute of Journalism at Ohio University, I was walking around using my "Selfie Stick" – as I like to call it – to take some photographs and treasuring those great moments when suddenly and unlike what I expected! The President of Ohio University, Dr. Roderick McDavis, was very open and accept that I take a picture with him on my "Selfie" way and that was the moment when I had a "Selfie with the President"!

Face It: Instagram Pictures With Faces are More Popular. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from

A Different World that is United States of America

By Ellard Spencer Manjawira, Malawi (SUSI scholar 2014)

When I broke news to my colleague in Malawi that I would be travelling to the United States for a six week study tour, his comments were:  “Get prepared for a lot of shocks because the US is a totally different world to the one you are used to”.

Shocks?  Different world?  I did not take him seriously

Throughout the first leg of my journey from Malawi’s capital Lilongwe via Nairobi in Kenya up to the moment of arrival at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands it never occurred to me to check itinerary departure and arrival times. I paused for a moment to verify if what I read was correct. To my utter astonishment, the itinerary indicated 10.25 as departure time from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Holland and arriving 12.55at Detroit Airport in the US.  

I hastily concluded that there was a mistake on the ticket documentation because it was virtually impossible for such a long trip across the huge Atlantic Ocean to take a mere two and half hours. One thing that had skipped my mind was the transition from one time zone to another, from western Europe to America.

I later discovered that because Europe was five hours ahead of US time, the journey was to take approximately eight hours and not two. I had to adjust my clock upon arrival at Detroit. Was this the beginning of the shocks my colleague had referred to?    I wondered.

“Go to the passenger’s side,” these were the words from the driver of a van picking me and another scholar from Detroit Airport to a nearby Airport for a short rest before an hour-long  trip to Athens. I had aimed at the front left hand seat,  only to realize that in US, cars are left hand driven. And to add  further to my confusion,the van drove on the right hand side of the road.   It was then that I knew I was destined for more surprises and shocks.

One dominant feature that I have experienced during the study tour is time keeping.

“In America we believe in starting  and ending schedules on time, no compromise on this”. Program Director of the Study in US Institute on Journalism and Media at Ohio University Dr. Yusuf Kalyango emphasized these words during an orientation briefing. When the program director handed to each of the eighteen scholars a detailed fifteen page program of activities,  I realized that the journey that finally got the training schedule in place was not an easy one; it had taken months of planning!

I asked myself whether it would be possible to follow to the letter the schedule of academic sessions and cultural visits spanning over six weeks or 44 days.  Five weeks into the  program, I have come to realize the possibility of what I have for a long time considered impossible.  Among many Malawians time keeping is a big challenge. It is practically impossible to follow schedules even for one day.  Functions are delayed because organizers, presenters or participants report late.  The SUSI program has taught me that it is possible to keep time.

One weekend a Malawi citizen resident in Athens took me out to a shopping outlet in Parkersburg some forty miles out of the town. On the way, I pondered several things that make the US experience very fascinating including that in summer the sun does not set until around 9 o’clock at night.

“I have had problems going to bed when there was no darkness thinking it was still afternoon,” I joked as our journey progressed. He then branched off to refill the tank of his car.  The filling station or what is called gas station here in the US looked deserted. I was about to advise the friend to check at the next one when to my utter amazement, he got off the car and got the service we wanted “You don’t need an attendant because self service transactions are possible using a bank card.  It is  the same as withdrawing money at an auto teller machine.” He schooled me.  While such a self service system would be convenient to motorists in Malawi, I fear that would mean job losses and a threat to survival of hundreds of filling station attendants.

For easy communication with fellow scholars and staff, I was provided with a Samsung mobile phone with prepaid airtime for calls within the United States. I compiled a long list of colleagues, friends, acquaintances, relatives living in Washington, New york, Arkansas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburg, Atlanta, San Francisco, and other cities whom I was calling time and again, sometimes even when there was nothing serious  to talk about. I was deceived by the month long “unlimited call” clause. Then in the middle of a conversation with a friend and long time workmate  based living in Washington, suddenly the line got cut. I shouted “Hello! Hello! Hello!”,  but still no voice from the other side. I then decided to call back  and then a phone voice came “You do not have enough credit to make this call!” Goodness me!  It was like a dream.  What? Enough credit? What credit? Was the airtime not for unlimited calls for a month?”  Upon enquiry from fellow scholars, I realized the facility had a call duration limit too. And in addition I was charged even for calls received. I then realized that part of 500 minutes of call time worth 35 dollars were consumed by in coming calls. In Malawi, only outgoing calls are charged. Thereafter, it took two days without getting a call from any of the people I had been communicating with frequently. This was unusual. Later I got a face book message from one friend that he was unable to get me on the phone. I later learnt that one must have credit on their phone to receive calls. This was unthinkable in Malawi where there are lots of people who rarely top up their phone air time but receive calls any way. Others even specialize in sending “please call me” messages. I spared a thought for thousands of Malawians who would be cut off from any communication with friends and relatives if the “no credit no outgoing and incoming calls“ facility were to be implemented by cellphone operators.

The experiences of the few weeks of my stay in the US have made me reflect on the advice by the friend prior to my departure Malawi that I needed to be “prepared for a lot of shocks”. I nodded in agreement that truly the United States of America was a totally different world from one I am used to back home in Malawi.

Fighting Discrimination 100 Years On

By Ellard Spencer Manjawira, Malawi (SUSI scholar 2014)

I have fond memories of my African American lecturer who taught me The African diaspora course module at the University of Malawi almost fifteen years ago. He used to narrate the experience of blacks in America since the abolition of slavery and how they have suffered from racial discrimination. That memory was rekindled during a visit Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.
Editors of Call and Post
Scholars reading Call and Post newspaper

According to the newspaper’s  associate Editor and publisher Constance Harper, the weekly, was established almost a century ago to  propagating the rights of African Americans.  Harper who has worked for the paper for the past 50 years explained that the Call and Post with a circulation of 25,000, also fondly known as the people’s paper by its admirers was set up to compete with national and local papers which are predominantly pro-white.

It was a unique media set up, with all editorial staff of African American extraction, a direct opposite to other media organizations I visited during the Study in US institutes program such as CNN, Budget newspaper, Columbus Dispatch, and News 19 Television among others.   Was such a set up by design? Harper put it that they have had experience of recruiting white reporters but did not stay long. She was was  non committal when asked to elaborate on what drives them away.

Because its audience was predominantly African American community which is under-priviledged, the paper has continued to be in print form.  However despite its orientation, the paper’s editorial policy is non –partisan. Its advertising targeted both white and African American clients. The editor put it that it avoids derogatory and discriminatory terms to refer to any race and does not  print any “inappropriate words.”

When asked what issue dominate coverage in the paper, harper was quick to mention crime  especially  gun violence.

According to her, crime rate especially gun violence in particular  was dominant in African American communities in Cleveland. “African Americans are victims and victimizers of crime, two or three people get killed every day, its pathetic and leaves a lot to be desired” Harper lamented. Almost every edition carry stories of brutal killings and other forms of violent crime in the community. Concerned with the high rate of gun violence, the faith community in the city has raised an alarm and called for an end to the vice.  Call and Post  carried a front page story in its June4-10, 2014 edition titled ‘Greater Cleveland Congregations calls for an end to gun violence”. The story reported that the largest interfaith, multiracial organization in Greater Cleveland organized its members from 40 congregations, schools and associations to call for a stop the flow of illegal guns into the community. So acute are cases of crime and violence that the paper has a special ‘police blotter’ section dedicated to major criminal cases of the week most of them violent gun shootings.   

One violent gun shooting issue that has dominated debate in front page coverage for some months was that of a couple shot by police inside a car. This, according to the editor has led to a protracted battle between the family of those two killed and the African American community on one hand and the state prosecutor and the white community on the other. Going through stories on the saga in the back issues of the paper , I got touched by how the case had dragged without prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime for over one and half years 

It is reported in the paper that on November 29, 2012, 13 officers fired their guns in a 23 minute police chase in Cleveland that ended up with 137 shots fired at shot range into a car killing a couple, Mellisa Williams and Timothy Russell. The African American community has been seeking for answers why such brutality happened. The community believed the delayed justice is a form of racial discrimination since the perpetrators of the crime were white while the victims were African Americans. 

When in 2 years time Call and Post will be commemorating 100 years since its existence , it will be time of celebration and reflection. It will be  celebrating the hard battle it has fought and endured for rights of African Americans. It will also be time to reflect and realize that the battle is far from over and ‘aluta continua’.

Treasures of Ohio University

By Zin Mar Kyaw, Myanmar (SUSI scholar 2014)

Our SUSI scholars 2014 went library tour to Alden Library in the Ohio campus. It locates beside the Scripps Hall of Edward Willis Scripps School of Journalism, which is the father land of SUSI group. Dr Jatin introduced our group with Reference Librarian Sherri Saines. She warmly welcomed to us and detailed explained about the Alden Library.
Alden Library

I have learned about  the history of Ohio University libraries. Ohio University was founded in 1804 and libraries were moved forwarded from throughout the years.    The evolution of Ohio University libraries firstly started from the Academy in 1808 and second step in the College Edifice in 1818 and third pillar as the Carnegie Library  in 1905 and fourth monument as Chubb library to today unique treasure as Alden library in 1969.  Ohio libraries proudly marched from index card system to network and digitalized system according to the passage of time. At present, Alden library gathered the print collections up to 3 million volumes. Alden library warmly welcomes all learning commoners to study, to research and to cooperate every day.
I outside Alden library
Children's section at the library

The learning commoners, students, faculties and community members can study the widest available of international collections, children collections, current periodicals, and government documents, special collections of manuscripts and rare books, and fine arts. Besides these qualitative contents, the Alden library fills his building with quantitative needs   of multi-media room, computer lab, teaching and learning center, media production, and student writing center and so on.  I suppose that the Ohio library is designated as the 64th largest library in North America because of these complement.

Being the University library, it emphasis on the children is proved that the section of children collection. I never seen there are children collection section in most of the libraries. There is   a saying word; “today youth would be become leader in future”. At the moment, I have seen practical activities of Ohio Library. I have seen many students’ studies in the library. All of the students do the emphasis on self-study as the faculties train the students to improve critical thinking skill.

Now, I have known the strength of U.S education system during my studying on Journalism and media in Ohio University. I decide that my knowledge to be share in my University and to beneficially apply in transforming my country’s education system’s weakness, and facing the challenges.

The morning walk in Ohio University...

Shashwati Goswami

Athens reminds me so much of the quaint little town I grew up in, tucked away in the far away country of India's North- eastern state, Assam. The Hocking River silently flowing by the University, the geese quacking and welcoming the morning... I wake up at 5.45 watching the morning break out. That is also the time I talk to my family back at home in India...the boys back home with stories of school to tell. I walk on the bike path and it is a spot in the campus which I will take with myself from Athens. 
I like to walk towards the left of the bike path which goes by the residential units for the students as well as a playground and a school. There is a construction site far ahead from where I retract my steps.

I remember the school days when I used to walk alone to school as the only school bus met with an accident and I was hurt and too scared to board one since then. As I was the only student from our area going to the convent which was two miles away my school trips was full of imaginative stories that I weaved in my mind. This also left me with time to look at nature, small dainty wild flowers and chirping birds. I started to recognize them and ask my grandmother about them. I would pluck a new flower or a leaf of a new plant and take it home to my grandmother. Some she could name and some she could not....but she did try to tell a story around a few. That tryst with plants continued and it grew further when I married and met my mother-in-law. She is a store house of knowledge about small herbs and plants with medicinal value. It needs to be mentioned here that the North-east of India is known for its medicinal plants as well as orchids. She also taught me which plant was useful in which sort of sickness and also in which climate. She taught me how to cook them as well.
The reason for this long introduction was necessary because in Athens I saw a few herbs/plants as well as wild flowers that we find in Assam. Let me take you through them and introduce you. This is a wildly growing herb which I found to be growing everywhere in the campus of Ohio University. We call it Tengeshi. There are three varieties of this herb that I know and all of them I could see in Athens. While two of them are different in the size of the leaves, one is of the color of deep purple. It has bright yellow color flower. This herb cooked with very minimum effort is excellent for stomach ailment.
This is another plant which is eaten as greens in almost all parts of India. The Assamese name is jilmil or bhotua, whereas in Hindi it is called bathua. When cooked it is a very tasty green rich in nutrition. It generally grows wild but due to the growing market it is being grown in farms as well.
This plant I saw in the Farmers' market as well as in the campus. Though I don’t remember the name it is called in Assamese, but we do make very tasty dish of this. I found them growing just outside the Adams Hall, our residence during our time at Athens.
This plant is another medicinal herb which is very beneficial for the lactating mother as well as debilitating people. It is called mati kaduri. This I found growing everywhere, by the bike path, by the sidewalks of the South Greens as well as by the road to Scripps Hall.
The most interesting and nostalgic of all the plants is the flower on the flower bed near the library. It just took me back so many years to my school days. This flower is never grown in the flower beds in Assam. It grows wild and people mercilessly chop them off. The town that I spent my childhood is called Diphu. That district was notorious for cases of malaria. It was believed that this shrub breeds malaria and in dirty places. However I had seen this flower being grown in flower beds in Delhi as well. My memory of that shrub and its flower is very personal. As I had mentioned above I was the only student going to the convent and so my walks would be always alone. The school that I studied in, Don Bosco School, Diphu had a very big campus on the slopes of a hill. Towards the left side of the campus was an undeveloped patch where these flowers grew rampant. Interestingly this shrub yields a very sweet tasting small berry like fruit which grew in bunches. I liked to while away a lot of time under these shrubs plucking those berries and eating them straight away. It was a personal journey and has been never shared with anybody till now. I don’t know the name of this shrub but it is deeply rooted inside me.
This was interesting sojourn for me to reconnect with my childhood and my home! Ohio University you will be remembered in a special way!!!

All photographs by the author.

Digital media should challenge oligopoly in media market

By Nisha Garud

Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and Media(SUSI) 2014 entered its full second week with lectures on the media and political structures and journalistic practices in two nations of Chile and Costa Rica. Then it was turn for the Indian sub-continent with lectures by Zin Mar Kyaw from Myanmar and Aruna Lokuliyana De Silva from Sri Lanka.

Lionel Rossi from Chile during his lecture.

Lionel Rossi , an Argentinian working in Chile at the University of Chile, compared the media structures and journalistic practices in both countries. Sime of dictatorship has a lot of influence on the Chilean citizens. The situation is exactly opposite in Argentina. Talking about media ownership, Lionel said, The media market is oligopolistic, especially the newspaper industry. It is in the hands of powerful economic groups and politicians of the right wing. There is no political diversity i0n the ownership. He added that to ensure freedom of the press, it is important to create and encourage new spaces of information and to use the growing digital media to challenge oligopolies.

Lorna Chacon-Martinez from Costa Rica said that media ownership in her country was similar to Chile. There was monopoly in the internet market but the situation is now changing. The scholar was proud to inform that the reach of cellular network in her country was almost 100 percent. There is lot of political pressure on the journalists but the press is relatively free and ranks 18th on World Press Freedom Index. At times, the media favors the left wing, which the youngsters do not approve of. She said that there was friction between the traditional media and the social media and social media relied on traditional media for its news.

The media censorship is stricter in Myanmar and Sri Lanka and the once war-struck nation of Sri Lanka is not a favorable ground for journalists, concluded scholars Zin Mar and Aruna. The government owns newspapers and internet in Myanmar. There has been a strict censorship since 1962 but with the new government in 2011, censorship laws are becoming less strict, said Zin Mar. She added that documentaries about Burmese culture, Korean and Indian movies dominate the television content. The army, which has to play a major role to avoid domination by neighbors China and India has its own station, which broadcasts educational programs and is a mouthpiece for the army.

The Rajapaksa family dominates politics and holds most of the ministerial positions in Sri Lanka, informed Aruna from Sri Lanka. Using interesting info graphics, the scholar who has won two national awards for the best cover pages and written numerous books and directed short documentaries, said print medium was dominated by private owners until the government took over the biggest organization called Lake House. The main issues are lack of right to information and lack of investigation into atrocities against journalists.

SUSI 2014 warms up for diverse media discussions

By Nisha Garud

The full first week of the Study of the U.S. Institute(SUSI) 2014 on Journalism and Media saw an exchange of ideas among 18 scholars from 18 countries. As part of the online International Mass Media Class, scholars from Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong and Malawi gave lectures on the political and media structures and journalism practices in their home countries.
Bonnie Chiu from Hong Kong
Bonnie Chiu from Hong Kong Baptist University kicked off this years session on June 23, 2014. Bonnie, who is a journalist, lawyer and professor, explained how the Hong Kong media enjoy a free environment compared to the mainland China. It is very easy to set up a newspaper in Hong Kong. However, self-censorship is growing because of both economic and political connections with mainland China, she explained. One unique feature about Hong Kong media that surprised other scholars was Apply Daily’s animated news packages, which led to a heated discussion on whether animated news was a better way to attract more audiences?

Ellard Manjawira, a scholar from Malawi, explained how there were two groups of untrained but experienced, and young but trained journalists in his country because no journalism training was allowed in Malawi from 1964 to 1994. For a period of 30 years, there was only one newspaper for the whole country. Today, newspapers are the major news media in Malawi and they are largely private and independent. Comparing with other media, newspapers have the widest reach in Malawi, he said. He said that online and social media were growing but the access to technology was still limited to elites and in urban areas.

The scholar from Lebanon, Mirna Abou Zeid, told the audience that administrative power is divided between three main sects in her country, which influences the media system and ownership. The president is always a Christian Maronite, the Prime Minister is always a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the Parliament is a Shia Muslim, she said. While enlightening on the media in Lebanon, Mirna explained that there is a limit of 25 on newspaper licenses, out of which 11 licenses have to be given to Arabic newspapers. Political parties are not allowed to own media but it is still covertly controlled by the politicians. Newspapers engage in self-censorship, however, there is no distinction between facts and opinions.

Talking about the influence of Russia on the media in her country, Kyrgyzstani scholar, Nargiza Ryskulova, said that there are innumerable Russian channels which have helped form a pro-Russian opinion. Kyrgyzstan press is not free and is divided into two major languages: Russian and Kyrgyz. The media are in a transitional state in the country and Nargiza hopes that with new technology, it will soon move towards being liberal.

Media are still covertly controlled, say SUSI scholars

By Nisha Garud

Lectures and discussions on media structures and journalistic practices in the online International Mass Media class of the Study of US Study of US Institute (SUSI) 2014 summer program continued with insights into journalistic practices in Russia, India, Philippines, and Kuwait.

Russian scholar Inna Shumkina
Inna Shumkina, Professor at Samara State University in Samara, Russia, spoke at length about the post-Soviet Union media system. She noted that journalists in her homeland are categorized into three main generations; the ones before 1990s are disciplined professionals and consider journalism as an important task. Those in the 1990s were mere practitioners with no formal training or education. She elaborated that during this period, journalism was an open field. The third generation of journalists is in the ages of 15 or 16 years and has little interest in investigative journalism. They support some political party and are not aware of the journalistic rules and regulations.

Talking about the television, Inna said that television was the most popular medium in Russia and most of the television content was about entertainment. “There are about 300 television channels in Russia. The content is about television serials and films. It has changed a lot. In the 90s, Russians watched a lot of Latin American shows but now it is completely Russian,” she said.

Shashwati Goswami from Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Delhi, India reflected on the state of community radio in her country.  “It takes 11 approvals from ministerial departments to start a community radio station. People, who need such a radio station are from remote parts of the country and do not have the money to travel to the capital city and to apply for license. The situation is worse in the country’s north-eastern part, which is secluded from the mainland, because there is only one community radio station. This station is owned by an educational institution and plays no role in the development of the rural people.”  Shashwati discussed media ownership in India. She said India has a liberal democratic regulated media system. She said that the media ownership dictates the media content in India.

The struggle for Filipinos to overthrow an autocratic ruler and restore democracy was the main feature of Agnes Nepomuceno’s lecture. The scholar from Philippines gave a glimpse into the history of her country when it was a Spanish colony. Talking about media in the Philippines, Agnes said the country was the 2nd deadliest place for journalists. “The media coverage has a high concentration of political and corruption news. If the government dislikes some coverage, it can sue the journalist for libel,” she said. She added that the internet is catching up but people still rely on radio for breaking news in the Philippines, which is at a risk of natural calamities.

Yousef Al-Kazim from Kuwait presented a video that he and his colleagues shot and edited to give the audience a glimpse into Kuwait’s culture. He noted that Kuwait is the most liberal country in the Gulf but the press is still controlled by the government and does not enjoy the freedom like in some Western countries. “It is an unsaid rule that Congress and the state leader are not to be ridiculed. There is pre-censorship on movies and theater. Television and radio hold the second biggest share of the advertising market.”

Scholars were curious to know about gender equality in Kuwaiti media. Yousef elaborated that the ratio of women journalists to the men is almost negligible. However, the television news channels are initially recruiting one female anchor per channel.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tunisian protests were 1st phase of a revolution: SUSI 2014 scholar

By Nisha Garud

Lectures on the role of media and their influence on the politics continued for the online international media class for Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and Media(SUSI) 2014, when Tunisian scholar, Sayf Mohamed , gave an insider’s account of how social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube enabled people to bypass the government censorship in his country and to overthrow the dictators.

Sayf Mohamed from Tunisia

Sayf said that the protest was not a revolution, as the Western media defined it, but it was only a first phase of an uprising. Tunisia is still in transition. The transition is from a strict media to a dynamic one. iled bloggers, activists and journalists were released after the government collapsed. For two months, the journalists were not sure if there was freedom of press. He also spoke on the status of women and said that women had equal status in Parliament and got the same salaries as men.

Sports dominate television content in Australia, said the scholar and lawyer Sarah Harmelink from Australia. This is because Australians love their sports, she added. Media companies owned by Murdoch and Fairfax dominate the media market. These companies dictate the media content. Talking about the growth of the internet, Sarah said, There is internet censorship and the police and the government have the right to ban websites. They have created blacklist of blocked content. Typically, there is no public scrutiny of such censorship. She added immigration was a major issue in Australia but the media do not give it much attention.

With three doctoral degrees and a United Nations ambassadorship serving to fight against tuberculosis, Ibrahim Awad from Sudan, said that factors like custom regulations, lack of paper, printing regulations, literacy problems, and slow marketing affect print media in his country. The media industry is not developed in Sudan. Media production centers cropped up as a result of photographing weddings, covering political issues, documenting educational events, said Awad, who has travelled to more than 20 countries. The government owns the cinema because movie production is expensive. Only 10 movies have been made till now in the country.

Radu-Mihai Meza from Romania said that the highest advertisement revenue was from television. The television market is worth about 193 million euros. He said, In Romania, businessmen have used the excess profits from illegal business to buy and start media companies. He added that media mogul, the Intact Media Group, controlled the major media. The owner was lobbying with the government and used the influence to stay out of jail. Radu-Mihai said that the print medium is slowly dying. The tabloid market was at peak in 2008 but started declining over the years.

Finland, Zambia present two opposite worlds of press freedom

By Nisha Garud

Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and Media 2014 scholars Brenda Bukowa from Zambia and Merja Drake from Finland brought the online International Mass Media class to a successful completion with lectures on their countries media and political structures and journalistic practices. The lectures were held at Copeland Hall on the Ohio University campus in Athens on July 14, 2014.

Brenda Bukowa during the online International Mass Media Class in Copeland Hall.
Merja Drake speaks during the online International Mass Media class in Copeland Hall.

Brenda said that her nations president determines media policies, which keep changing every five years with a new president in power. The media do not need licenses to start their business. New newspapers and TV channels crop up every day and disappear without any notices. Some newspapers are weekly but are published only monthly. Hundreds of newspapers are published during the elections and die immediately. The media are not expected to criticize the president, who gives no account of his whereabouts to the citizens.

She explained that factors like political influence, censorship, lack of finances and technology, low wages, lack of good journalism education were killing the media in Zambia. She believes that a new constitution that guarantees freedom of information, establishes Public Information Commission, and defines its functions and provides for the right of access to information will guarantee freedom the press.

Merja presented a small video about Finland to show the audience its geographic beauty. Finland, which ranks first on the World Press Freedom Index, is a bilingual country with a population of five million people. Merja explained that the secret behind the countrys top ranking is that media are not biased towards any political or social organization. The news reports neatly present both the sides of the story, which at times, make the reports look bland. If an individual is criticized in a news report, then he has the right to replay i.e. to present his side of the story.

She added that every document is a public and very few documents are classified as government secrets. All data are available on the internet for the people. She informed the SUSI scholars and the online students that the Finnish government had digitally archived every single paper right from the beginning and they were welcome to access and archive for research.

Beyond Cultural Boundaries

By Agnes Jacob-Nepomuceno, Philippines (SUSI scholar 2014)
“The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”
 – Martin Luther King Jr.
If the renowned icon of American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had lived his life of service for others as a key player in advancing equality between white and black people during his time, “ he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African –American citizens in the South and other areas of United States from the mid 1950s to 1968,” (; everyone in the present time is also called to fulfill same noble mission of  Luther, who received Nobel Peace Price in 1964, by bravely standing up for equality and truth in order to bring order and peace in a world that is beset with gigantic issues, challenges, conflicts that come in various shapes and sizes.

My journey for this 5-week cultural study; I owe much to the United States of America through the Scholarship for the United States Institute for Journalism and Media is a fulfillment of a dream of achieving the pinnacle of professional growth and competence as an educator, journalist, and broadcaster working for a premiere state-run university serving a region of six provinces, a developing and yet promising progressive nation, the Philippines.

The SUSI 2014 PROGRAM is full-packed with a series of holistic academic activities and cultural exposure that tickled the intellectual minds and expanded the band of interest and excitement of scholars from across 18 countries; a world representation of carefully selected media professionals from Russia, Costa Rica, Zambia, Hong Kong, Finland, Australia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, India, Romania, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Sudan, Malawi, Tunisia, Chile, and Philippines. A gathering of brilliant professionals with distinct cultural background and unique personality is one of the outstanding achievement by the U.S. an icon of democracy and the host of SUSI scholarship by being instrumental in forming and bringing together a group of scholars; thus provided a network of cultural sharing of opportunities for future collaboration in dyad forms; either by formal association (professional ties) and informal (continuing friendship) in a wired world or by actual visits to the member countries of the program.

Certainly the SUSI program provided the scholars with an exponential growth of knowledge; a wisdom that is strongly built and embedded in everyone´s memory and heart; oozing out with enthusiasm of going back to one´s country and transfer and share the information and experiences gained to hundreds of young minds eagerly awaiting for their comeback.

The scholarship administrator, Ohio University through the International Institute of Journalism, has been successful in bringing to the session room a number of practically experienced and seasoned media practitioners and educators who definitely rocked the intellectual bank of scholars who were passionate to learn newest inputs on media practices in America vis-à-vis educational thoughts and practices that would help the scholars further understand their deeper and significant roles in training and preparing youths who will be tomorrow´s builder of informed society and keeper and guardians of the crucial role and place of media in the world.

The 2014 SUSI SUMMER days rolled by smoothly from day 1 to the last 10 days as of the writing of this piece before the conclusion of the 5-week exchange visit program. On academic note, theories and practical applications made during the long hours of session were found to be mind-boggling, physically challenging, and yet intellectually satisfying. To research enthusiasts, the teachings and discussions on rigors of research was helpful, inspiring and challenging not to mention the role play activity that served as wake-up call particularly on seeing the realities that universities must adapt to in teaching Journalism and MEDIA. That students in communication schools must not only be led towards mastery of domestic issues that occur in one´s country but must go beyond borders and understand international issues that affect the world in its entirety. Certainly, lessons on international relations, laws, politics, economics, and ethics must be seriously taught to maintain the communication competence of media personalities as reliable sources of information by the people and whose sensitive news performance is crucial in shaping the decision-making and action of every man.

The Director of Ohio University, International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, fanned the intellectual pressure among the scholars by assigning Peace Conflict Cases among four (4) small groups.  The task required peaceful resolution of conflicts, which along the process of brainstorming challenged each individual’s take on the issues. But giving PEACE a chance consequently made the system’s theory work with the activity, which placed   greater emphasis on the premise that “the whole is better than its parts.”

On a lighter note, if the term justifies it so, the task to handle the CASE STUDY CONFLICT activity was assigned to me by Dr. K.  And while I was also required to present my own country’s peace conflict issue, a 40 years old armed conflict in the Philippines (available by email: When Martin Luther King’s struggled in his time to realize his dreams for racial emancipation, through his historical speech, I HAVE A DREAM, all of us have our own share of LONG WALK TO FREEDOM AND PEACE.
 “….and when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”  (Full text, I Have a Dream Speech:
When I was made to experience with the real working of PEACE CONFLICT, by placing me in a challenging role, which, of course, required studying the two different peace issues that the SUSI scholars were also dealing with.  Paradoxically, I was really fighting a personal peace disturbance issue on the same day and exact hours of the scholars’ role-play, when my hometown was being hit by a super typhoon that had its strong landfall in the very city where I live. And when worries further snowballed when electricity and communication services were downed by furious winds and heavy rains.  But life-threatening and personal issues back home didn’t have to stand in the way.  The show must go on and in the end; it did turn out well.

Thus:  “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy,” really made sense to me at the very moment when I had to perform my special task as a CASE STUDY MANAGER for the given activity.