Thursday, February 26, 2009

Innovative Korean Model for "New Newspaper"

"Unlike most traditional Korean newspapers, under the ownership of a family or business conglomerate, the Hankyoreh is owned by about 62,000 shareholders who joined the original drive for the paper's inception. "

Among them were dozens of former journalists who had been ejected from their jobs due to their roles in promoting freedom of the press and democracy. Their long-cherished dream of beginning an independent newspaper came true through successful fundraising, which began shortly after popular uprising against the military dictatorship in 1987. The Hankyoreh was inaugurated on May 15, 1988.
The Hankyoreh is a progressive newspaper, decisively committed to journalistic freedom, democracy, peaceful coexistence and national reconciliation between South and North Korea, which were divided by external forces after World War II. The Hankyoreh is unrelenting but fair in coverage. It does not negate the philosophy of the free market economy, individual liberty and personal freedom. But it accepts that the more detrimental effects of an unbridled market economy should be regulated by various means.
Its distinct feature is its unique ownership. Unlike most traditional Korean newspapers, under the ownership of a family or business conglomerate, the Hankyoreh is owned by about 62,000 shareholders who joined the original drive for the paper's inception. They are from all walks of life in Korea, ranging from teachers to university students to housewives. Even though their backgrounds are different, they have one value in common: a desire for a genuinely independent newspaper and for full-fledged democracy in Korea.

'The Hankyoreh' is a miracle. It is a child of Korea's democratic movement in the 1980s. The propelling force of its establishment, journalists fighting the military dictatorship, often faced oppression. The passion seen from the public at the inauguration of the paper showed that the cause of press freedom was justified. When the first issue of the Hankyoreh rolled out of the press on May 15, 1988, a new chapter was opened in the history of Korean journalism. No more censorship. No more intrusion from outside powers. The Hankyoreh had pioneered fundamental change in Korean journalism.

The changes were substantial, even down to the stylistic level. The Hankyoreh was the first daily in Korea whose stories were written only in Hangeul, or the Korean alphabet, rather than a combination of Korean and Chinese characters. It was also the first modern newspaper in Korea that published stories written in horizontal rather than vertical script. Horizontal editing was well tuned to the young generations who were familiar with horizontal writing. All of the school textbooks were written in horizontal script. Vertical script was the legacy of outmoded Chinese culture in which most of Chinese books were edited vertically.

Liberal Korean readers found a fresh perspective in the Hankyoreh. Through its progressive editorial policy, the Hankyoreh has greatly broadened the intellectual horizon. In an era of corporations exercising massive influence over news media, The Hankyoreh's combination of public ownership and commitment to progressive values strengthens its independent editorial stance, devoid of the corporate allegiances and pressures that tend to rein in today's media.

The title of Hankyoreh carries with it the ideas of trust and fairness. Recognized as the most reliable and authoritative newspaper in Korea, the Hankyoreh's detailed stories have earned it a high reputation. In particular, the Hankyoreh enjoys great popularity among Korea's young generation, which is longing for fundamental changes in Korean society.

Hankyoreh further distinguishes itself from other traditional media through its particular emphasis on in-depth coverage of inter-Korean relations from a progressive perspective. Its inter-Korean reporting is recognized as unbiased and fair. Its reporting of inter-Korean and East Asian affairs is based on its editorial policy of seeking reconciliation, stability and peaceful co-prosperity.

The Hankyoreh's financially humble, popular beginnings are part of its legacy: its initial capital stood at 5 billion won, falling short of what most media experts considered the minimum necessary funding for a startup newspaper company. The Hankyoreh solved this issue by instituting a computerized editing system, which replaced the old type-mounted system. The new editing system reduced expense by 90 percent.

Eighteen years after its inception, the Hankyoreh is striving to transform itself into a leading comprehensive 'new media' corporation. The Hankyoreh's vision for the 21st century is based on its 'second stage growth plan.' The latest reorganization of the newsroom is part of this ambitious plan. The Hankyoreh is on the move.

Campaign for Continuing Support for Local Radio

Prometheans kicked off the "LPFM Now!" Postcard Campaign at the Inauguration!
With millions of people descending on DC, members of the Prometheus Radio Project braved the cold temperatures and talked to people from all over the country who are working to get more local voices onto the airwaves. Our Hope for Change comes with plans for Action and we are working hard to let Congress know that NOW is the time to expand LPFM! Please join us in our postcard campaign and let your Representative and Senators know that we demand More Community Radio Now! For more information:
The success of several local radios for immigrant communities has lead to a campaign for "Radios NOT Raids!"

"Suffocation" of Public Sector Broadcasting

Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, University of Westminster

The Open Society Institute announces the publication of a major new monitoring report on television in Europe.....The report confirms that television, which should be a pillar of democracy and open societies, is changing at breakneck speed. Patterns of production, transmission, consumption, marketing, financing and ownership - these are all in flux. On the content side, Europe is witnessing the rapid rise of program formats and the slow suffocation of public service output....
The report focuses on the latest changes in nine countries: Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, the Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. These countries also featured in the OSI's original Television across Europe project (2005), which covered 20 countries. The new reports are sequels.

Key findings:

* Public service broadcasters (PSBs) suffer from mounting politicization and pressure, flawed funding models, and disintegrating reputations.
* Broadcast regulators are also increasingly politicised. Only a few have taken initiatives to let a more diverse range of operators enter the market.
* Public service content has not been boosted by incentives or obligations.
* Transparency of commercial media ownership remains a major problem.
* Although debate on media policy and reform has intensified, civil society is rarely consulted in a meaningful way.
* There has been no concerted effort to promote media literacy. Where this happens at all, it is carried out mainly by NGOs.

The country reports and the regional overview are available at

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MEDIA-SOUTH AFRICA: Battle over Future of Public Broadcaster

by Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Its critics want the SABC to give voice to the concerns of the marginalised.

CAPE TOWN, Feb 3 (IPS) - A powerful coalition of civic organisations is calling for a complete overhaul of the legal framework of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to force it to fulfil its public broadcasting mandate. At a meeting on Jan. 29, the Save our SABC Coalition said they would step up their focus on the SABC Amendment Bill that is awaiting the signature of President Kgalema Motlanthe. However, the coalition is also lobbying for a separate, new SABC Act which addresses programming content and issues like board appointments, transparency and funding models.

The coalition includes the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa, trade unions under the umbrella of union federation Cosatu, the Treatment Action Campaign – a coalition fighting for the rights of HIV positive people – and independent producers. "As a coalition we want to see a clearly drafted SABC charter," Kate Skinner, a media consultant and co-ordinator of the coalition, told IPS. "We want a new, clear and renewable charter drawn up. It should be renewed around every five years."

Jane Duncan, executive director of the FXI, says the SABC is not fulfilling its public broadcasting mandate to give voice to the concerns of the marginalised, including the gay and lesbian community, women, rural people and the very poor. "The national broadcaster should give them a platform for their voices to be heard. This is part of participatory democracy. A green paper/white paper process will allow civil society the chance to engage with proposed legislation through public hearings. It is the responsibility of the national department of communication to widely publicise such a green paper process and to encourage public hearings," Duncan said.

William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa, an organisation that promotes a free, fair and critical media on the continent, says that the SABC is a critical institution for democracy. "It should be the epitome of freedom of expression and not the subject of reports about freedom of expression abuses. The majority of South Africans are dependent on the SABC as the medium to inform them on a variety of issues."

Rehad Desai, chairperson of the South African Screen Federation, told IPS his organisation, through the coalition, hopes to lobby the SABC to promote and inculcate values that are in the constitution. "There are a whole range of important values, including care for all citizens, from pensioners and children to prisoners and their wives, to address homophobia and to give a voice to the poor. South Africa is a society in transition and there are big controversies out there. These should be addressed by the public broadcaster to help stabilise the democracy and to ensure a plurality of voices are heard."

According to Desai it can be achieved by awarding contracts to diverse production companies that can deliver content that reflects the different voices. "A culture of accountability and transparency needs to be inculcated. Currently contracts awarded to production companies are often draconian and the artists do not have a lot of freedom. These issues need to be addressed and legislated in the proposed SABC Act."

For years now, the SABC has been dogged by financial problems, power struggles amongst its top executives and allegations of corruption. The CEO, Dali Mpofu, was again dismissed on Jan. 22 following a protracted internal battle and legal wrangle with the corporation. Mpofu was first removed after he suspended SABC news chief Snuki Zikalala for allegedly leaking confidential documents and information in 2008. Zikalala, who has since been reinstated, was also at the centre of the 2006 controversy in which he was found to have blacklisted commentators critical of then President Thabo Mbeki.

"The SABC board is supposed to be independent, but because of the commercial arm, the minister of broadcasting has become a shareholder in the company. It has given her certain rights and responsibilities towards the board, and this overrides the independence of the board. The three top executives - the CEO, the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Financial Officer - are now under direct control of the minister," a situation Duncan describes as "extremely inappropriate" for the national broadcaster. "There are a number of policy assumptions underlying the Broadcasting Act of 1999 that are problematic and out of date," said Duncan.

One of these is that the SABC was split into a commercial and public broadcasting entity in 1999 with the commercial arm subsidising public broadcasting. "There is no evidence that the cross-subsidising is working. The SABC is in a long term funding crisis," Duncan told IPS. The Sunday Independent recently reported that the SABC is operating on a bank overdraft loan of nearly 50 million dollars.

"There is a decline in ad spend due to growing competition as the multi channel environment opens up," said Duncan. "The funding model of the SABC has to be rethought." Thanks to IPS

Friday, February 13, 2009

Council of Europe Adopts Community Media Declaration

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted on 11 February 2009 the Declaration on the role of community media (CM) in promoting social cohesion and intercultural dialogue, you will find the text in English and French attached.

The Community Media Forum Europe has been working as an observer with the Group of Specialists on Media Diversity (MC-S-MD) of the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) of the Council of Europe since December 2007 and contributed actively to the drafting of this Declaration, cooperating closely with AMARC Europe.
We are pleased to see the positive results of this work and are convinced that the declaration can support the further development of CM across Europe. This declaration surely helps strengthening the position of CM in national regulatory and legislation processes, e.g. concerning financial support and access to communication infrastructures. It also strengthens the presence of CM on European policy level.
Please help distribute the document to CM and CM-federations in your countries! The Council of Europe and the Ministers of Culture of the 47 member states need and deserve attention for this positive outcome. Please inform CMFE on publications, either on websites (links) or in newsletters, so we can then inform the Council of Europe.
For questions:
Pieter de Wit, President CMFE + 31 24 3550559 mobile: + 31 6 34150581 mailto:

Border War May Shut Community Station

Natalie Chickee from CJAM radio
Windsor Star - Ontario, Canada, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

After 25 years on the air, University of Windsor's community radio station CJAM-FM (91.5) could lose its licence in an international turf war between the U.S. and Canada. Adam Fox, CJAM manager, said there is a real concern the station's FM
frequency will be taken over by a commercial radio station in Michigan.

"The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has already granted a license to a station in China Township," said Fox. It is located in St. Clair County, north of Port Huron, but its signal power would reach the Detroit-Windsor market and the frequency would no longer be available to CJAM....

The FCC earlier forced its Canadian counterpart, the CRTC, to impose restrictions on CJAM because it claimed the signal was interfering with WUOM-FM (91.7), the University of Michigan student radio service in Ann Arbor. In response, CJAM has applied to move its signal up the FM dial to 99.1, and seek protected status under CRTC-FCC regulations. That would protect other stations from effectively jumping CJAM's claim.

"We need our audience to write the CRTC and voice their approval," said Fox. "Otherwise, we could find ourselves off the air."
Interventions for or against the application can be made online at, by fax at 819-994-0218, or by mail to: CRTC, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0N2.

While CJAM has occupied a spot on FM for 25 years, its history as a community and college radio service stretches back to the early 1950s. It began as the Assumption Music Appreciation Society on AM radio in 1952, eventually becoming the Assumption Radio Club before joining Canada Student Radio network. It operated as CSRW (Canada Student Radio Windsor), a low-power community station on 550-AM until 1977 when the CRTC approved its name change to CJAM.

The move to FM came in 1983. In 1997, CJAM boosted its signal power from 50 to 1,000 watts, but that's where some of the trouble started. When it increased its signal power, it could be heard in Metro Detroit, and raised the ire of stations in Michigan. The FCC, in an effort to protect the interests of WUOM, forced the CRTC to retain CJAM's lower-power designation, making it an unprotected signal.

By moving to 99.1, Fox said, the station will continue to be heard in parts of Metro Detroit, but it should not pose a problem to other broadcasters in the same spectrum. CJAM is a community radio station with a mandate to broadcast non-mainstream music content, which restricts it to less than 12 per cent of current hits. Fox said the station seldom plays more than one or two per cent hits.

The station also offers community promotions, multicultural content on weekends, and programs which address such things as women's issues, gay rights and labour. © The Windsor Star 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

HornAfrik Director Killed

Another murder in Somalia as HornAfrik director is killed
New York, February 4, 2009--The director of HornAfrik, one of Somalia's leading radio and television stations, was killed by three masked gunmen in the Bakara Market area of Mogadishu on Tuesday afternoon, local journalists told CPJ. The assailants shot Said Tahlil repeatedly as he and six other senior journalists were walking to a meeting with members of the militant Al-Shabaab group.

"We send our deepest condolences to Said Tahlil's family and colleagues at HornAfrik," said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. "Tahlil and other brave reporters in Mogadishu who continue to work under extremely dangerous conditions must be supported. We call on the new Somali administration make every effort to protect journalists."

Tahlil had been summoned to a meeting with the Al-Shabaab militia group along with the directors and senior editors of several media houses, journalists in Mogadishu told CPJ. A journalist with Radio Shabelle suffered a minor injury fleeing the scene, local journalists told CPJ.

Local journalists told CPJ that Al-Shabaab had disapproved of local media coverage of the recent Somali presidential elections. Al-Shabaab, among other groups, challenged the legitimacy of the election and did not take part. A spokesman for Al-Shabaab told CPJ today that his group was not behind Tuesday's murder and said it had asked journalists to help them identify the attackers.

Tahlil, believed to be in his early 50s, was appointed director of HornAfrik after its founder, Ali Sharmarke, was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Mogadishu in August 2007. The popular director was best known for his Friday news program in which he discussed the week's top issues. Tahlil is survived by his wife and seven children.

HornAfrik went off the air on Tuesday; it has not announced when it will resume broadcasting. Other stations in Mogadishu aired verses from the Quran throughout the day on Wednesday.

Somalia, embroiled in civil conflict for most of the past two decades, is one of the deadliest places in the world for the press. Since 2007, 11 Somali journalists have been slain.

Tahlil is the second Somali journalist killed this year and the fourth HornAfrik journalist killed since 2007. On January 1, Radio Shabelle journalist Hassan Mayow was shot dead in Afgoye, a town just outside of Mogadishu.