How Diaspora journalists can change homelands

Five years ago Kahraman Haliscelik, the Turkish Radio and Television United Nations Bureau Chief in New York travelled to his native country of Turkey to meet with one of the Governors in one of the southern provinces. Kahraman’s village had no electricity and water supply was a luxury at the time of his visit. Following his exchanges with the governor, Kahraman initiated a process (facilitated by his influence as an international journalist) that resulted in the provision of electricity and other basic amenities in his village long neglected by the government.
The story of Kahraman illustrates the power of Diaspora journalists to influence change in their home countries. In his New York Times article: From Safety of New York, Reporting on Distant Home, Brendan Spiegel articulated how Omoyele Sowore, a Nigerian is using his web news operation to impact governance in his native country from a location in New York City. Other journalists in the diaspora are impacting their homelands and this is significant in analyzing the influence of transnational journalism and journalists.
The influence of diaspora journalists dominated the conversation between The Turkish Radio and Television UN Bureau Chief, Kahraman Haliscelik and President of Center for Media & Peace Initiative, Dr. Uchenna Ekwo during a visit to the downtown Manhattan office of the center Wednesday.
Mr. Haliscelik spoke of the independence of the media in Turkey and gave credit to the Turkish media for opposing the government’s support for the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In his view, Turkish government refused to give the US the vital support it needed then because of the vigilance of the media and of course the massive opposition of law makers. Today, he said, the economy of Turkey is better for that singular opposition to sign up to an unpopular and avoidable war.
In retrospect, the media in the United States failed in scrutinizing Bush administration officials in the lead up to the war and that failure is probably responsible for the poor state of the economy today. In When the Press Fails: Political power and the news media from Iraq to Katrina, Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston (2006) outlined the failures of the American news media in holding public officials accountable in the days leading up to the Iraq war. The authors argued that the “press has grown too close to the sources of power in this nation, making it largely the communication mechanism of the government, not the people” (p.1).
According to Mr. Haliscelik of Turkish Radio and Television, journalists can make a difference in pushing for positive social change. In particular, he agreed with CMPI president, Dr. Uchenna Ekwo that diaspora journalists can influence change in both their host countries and their homelands.
Dr. Ekwo emphasized that the involvement of diaspora communities in bringing change to their homelands has vastly increased, creating new sources of financial support and international pressure. Media consumption and communication technologies have become increasingly important in the formation of shared identities for populations spread across the globe.
It is against this background, said Dr. Ekwo, that CMPI is focused on its Diaspora Media Initiative to mobilize journalists in diaspora to take action professionally, personally, and pointedly.
The impact of the social media on both journalism and governance featured prominently in the discussion of the two professional colleagues. While Mr. Haliscelik attributed the Arab spring to the potentials of social media, Dr. Ekwo predicted that more uprisings from the masses are likely to occur in undemocratic countries.
Im Jongwon compiled this report for CMPI

Posted by on Feb 11 2012. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply