Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Potential Untapped: Media Working Together across the Divide in Cyprus

This article was first published on page 18 of today’s Cyprus Weekly (27 April).

In an increasingly globalised information environment, with the prevalence of multiple channels of communication, the media play a crucial role in encouraging or reducing the influence of conflict on societies. The ongoing Cyprus Problem places additional barriers to effective communication and information exchange between the island’s two main communities. The dominant narrative on the conflict has also had the effect of marginalising voices and opinions that speak of Cyprus in its entirety, as well as issues of relevance to all communities on the island.

The importance of bringing together media professionals in conflict and post-conflict areas has been recognised as a necessary step to promote a culture of trust and understanding between communities. Broadening people’s perspectives and opening them up to information and ideas is an important prerequisite to a fully functioning democratic media, as well as fair and accurate information dissemination within and between communities.

The Collaborative Media Initiative (CMI), implemented under the auspices of the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC), has tried to look at the media landscape as one, bringing together a variety of approaches and documenting initiatives and best practice that all aim to bring two distinct systems of media governance closer together. Its final report, published this week, identifies a series of recommendations for action which fall broadly into three categories:

Creating a vision for an integrated media landscape in Cyprus

The Cypriot media landscape should include the creation of a multilingual and multicultural islandwide broadcaster. Steps can be taken now to fulfil this vision. The example of ARTE TV, established by France and Germany could be utilised as a model of best practice for creating media that can be shared following a period of conflict, and can also help to further integrate a reunited Cyprus with the rest of Europe. This could serve as a platform for common media institutions in a future Cyprus that will foster a sense of ownership amongst all Cypriots. Political will on behalf of decision makers is a key element to showing Cypriots that positive change can be achieved despite years of division.

Encourage media collaboration on a professional basis

Media professionals from both communities stand to benefit from working together. Collaborative work is taking place, but has remained under the radar due to its nature and delicacy in the current political situation. Journalists’ organisations, directors, and editors-in-chief should encourage their staff to work with colleagues from the other community and participate in events that concern all Cypriots. International organisations with an interest in supporting this process of integration, including the United Nations, the European Union and the Council of Europe, should also pay attention to work along parameters that encourage solid and sustainable partnerships.

Strengthening the links between media and democracy in Cyprus

Media is an essential element of a democratic society, where fair and accurate reporting can provide citizens with the necessary tools and access to information required to make informed decisions. For media to fulfil its role, conditions for media pluralism and freedom of expression must be established where a diversity of voices can enrich debate and accurately reflect all segments of the population. Improving the quality of access to media, and in particular new media through the internet, is crucial to strengthening levels of media literacy in Cyprus, and the capabilities of Cypriots to connect with each other. In this process, civil society will have an important role to play in creating a space for dialogue and cooperation. Organisations such as CCMC, with reach into all communities, can play an important and strategic role in this process.

A Potential Untapped: new report on media collaboration

At this morning’s press conference at CCMC, the new report from the Collaborative Media Initiative was launched. To read about the untapped potential for media collaboration in Cyprus, click here for a pdf of the report.

Thinking about Nicosia five years from now

It has become something of a rarity to leave a meeting more inspired and dynamic than before you entered. Last week, when a group of CCMC staff and members visited the new project team leading Nicosia’s bid for European Capital of Culture in 2017, was one of those moments when ideas and creativity cursed through our veins at the thought of putting our city at the centre of Europe’s cultural map.

I am not going to give too much away about the bid, just to say that the team led by Stavros Pamballis and Katerina Andreou are onto something big. An idea, a concept we all bought into about a city of many communities living side by side, that over the next few years will move away from its stereotypical image towards a vision of colour, change, and positivity.

I can only hope that CCMC will continue to be involved in supporting the bid, and working closely with the Nicosia 2017 team in the near future and beyond. We will keep you posted on their upcoming events and parties, and we invite you to support Nicosia’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2017!

Inspiring, epic, humbling #onedayonearth

Inspiring, epic, humbling #onedayonearth movie. CCMC very proud to be premiering it in Cyprus.

How do we understand the relationship between media and power?

This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (13 April).

During the past week we have witnessed how power structures – both legislative and commercial – are intimately linked with the world of media. The furore created by Parliament’s scrutiny over the budget of the state broadcaster has opened up a big discussion about the media’s relationship to dominant elements within our society. While considering the fallout from last week’s events, I was reminded of a startling example of the way in which we Cypriots have become conditioned to a certain viewpoint on the role of the media in the functioning of our society.

Some weeks ago, I had the pleasure to participate in a lecture at the Department of Communication and Internet Studies at the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) based in Limassol. The lecture, on the history and practice of community media worldwide, was also an opportunity to introduce final-year media students with the approach to producing media sensitive to the needs of a specific community. The CUT, having been granted a local radio station license by the Cyprus Radio and Television Authority, is planning ahead for content, and we asked the students to consider what the student community would want to tune into on their frequency. Those with an inclination to entertainment immediately called for more publicity for parties and events; others felt it would be good to hear about the everyday issues and problems that affect student life.

Having identified a number of problems that affect students at the CUT, we then proceeded to decipher who would be the most appropriate person to offer an opinion on air. To my surprise, we were met with an immediate response: the political groupings within the university. When asked to elaborate, the students were clear that representatives of political factions within the university are best positioned to express the grievances of the students, and, apparently, are the most appropriate people to propose solutions.

Fast forward to the discussions about media and power, and this example from the youth of tomorrow is a clear-cut illustration as to culture of media that prevails in Cyprus. The politicians have the power, and therefore they should dominate the airwaves. But media is not, and should not, be the playground of politics. We seem to have lost track of what its role in society really should be about: performing the role of a public watchdog; giving voice to those outside the mainstream of political life; covering all sides of a story through fair and accurate reporting.

With all this in mind, it is high time we evaluated our level of media literacy in Cyprus. This week’s events should be a call to action for the relevant stakeholders involved in promoting media literacy. People need to be in a position to critically evaluate what they see, hear, and read in the media, but also to understand where that final product comes from and whose input was decisive. Only then will we really begin to address our relationship to the media, and, ultimately our relationship with those who determine our future as a society.

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