Category Archives: Media

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Media Buffer Zone Project – Raising Capacities of Civil Society for the Production of Multimedia in Cyprus, the Middle East and South East Europe

photo (3)As a follow up to winning the audience award for best project idea at the Power of One Conference held in Nicosia, Cyprus in October 2012, the Media Buffer Zone Project team was invited to present and workshop their innovative project at the “POINT2013 – Political Accountability and New Technologies Conference” held in Sarajevo 23-26 May 2013.

Now you may be asking yourself what does this prestigious “unconference” featuring many fascinating speakers such as UZROK from Serbia, Milica Begović of UNDP-Montenegro, “The Facebook Girl of Egypt”, Esraa Abdel Fattah and the famed Amira Yahyaoui of Al Bawsala from Tunisia have to do with a group of committed activists from the MENA region, Cyprus and Central Europe who want to provide media skills trainings to NGOs and develop an Internet platform linking media talent to civil society have to do with this group of incredible entrepreneurs? Well, more than you’d think!

It seems our unique idea formulated during long days and coffee-fueled brainstorming sessions, but whose birth was really a product of the group’s years of passion and experience working for their respective communities, is something that many innovative people relate to and are inspired by. So, it was a natural fit in this turbo-charged and “change the world for the better” atmosphere.

The crowd response to our informative workshop session included people from Egypt, Libya and across Europe and was overwhelming positive. We all wish we could have started the trainings on the spot! However, we agreed to settle for stimulating idea creation, exchanging the needs of various communities in a more in-depth fashion and creating a space for a better understanding amongst the regions.

In-between the conference sessions members of the Media Buffer Zone Project team gathered in hotel lobbies, coffee shops and Labor Union halls (yes really, we met at the headquarters of the “Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, thanks labour leaders!) to discuss how best to implement the project to satisfy the needs of all.

The first order of business we thought of was to gauge the pulse of the people by conducting an in-depth needs analysis of what NGOs from our regions really need. So naturally we turned to our trusted partners from Palestine, Near East Consulting, who have years of experience in just this type of data mining. Next we thought to design the trainings from the actual research and turn that info into training materials civil society can use in their efforts to build their capacity in media skills.

Then we planned to use these tools to train “trainers” in media skills to multiply across the regions with media skills trainings in both Cyprus and Egypt to better equip our target audiences from the vast experience of both media partners CCMC and Qabila. From there we decided to develop a web-based platform which will link interested media professionals to active NGOS in the region to better serve the needs of the people these organizations serve. Whew! From an idea to being productive is an exciting and challenging proposition.

In order to make this all work we realized we need the vast networks of our partners Universal Patient’s Rights Organisation (Cyprus) and Zašto ne? (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to activate their networks to communicate, inform, and motivate the participants. Only in times of true inspiration due the stars align and such partnerships are formed!

So, here we go on our journey from a loose confederation of NGOS scattered throughout the Middle-East, Mediterranean and Central Europe to a tight-knit group of dedicated civil society leaders working for an innovative inter-regional knowledge exchange to strengthen the role of citizens and civil society in stimulating positive social change. Follow our adventures on twitter at @MediaBufferZone.

CCMC Editorial: Why World Press Freedom Day is important for Cyprus

3 May is marked around the world as a day of celebration of press freedom.

Since the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this date as World Press Freedom Day in 1993, it has become a day to reflect on and evaluate the state of press freedom in our own countries and around the world, as well as to remind ourselves of the need to defend journalists and media professionals from attacks on their work and independence.

In Cyprus the rights of journalists to exercise their profession freely are still not fully guaranteed. Back in February 2011, the Turkish-language Afrika newspaper – which maintains a highly critical stance of affairs in the northern part of Cyprus – and its editor-in-chief Sener Levent were threatened by an armed gunman at the newspaper’s premises. In July that year Levent’s colleague Ali Osman was also attacked at gunpoint. In fact 2011 was a particularly difficult year for Turkish Cypriot journalists. Mutlu Esendemir, the news editor of the Kanal T and a reporter for Kibris newspaper, was injured following the explosion of a bomb placed under his car, while Cenk Mutluyakali, the editor-in-chief of Yeniduzen newspaper, was also threatened.  These are the last recorded incidents of direct threats against the lives of Cypriot journalists, but they remain a chilling reminder that in our divided country threats to the freedom of the press continue to exist.

At the time of the attack on Levent his Greek Cypriot colleagues from the Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ) crossed the Green Line to show their support and solidarity. The UCJ has mobilised support for Levent on several occasions before the opening of the crossing-points when he was imprisoned for his and his newspaper’s writings. As welcome as this move was, it remains one of the few public gestures of good will between journalists across the divide in Cyprus. Unfortunately professional solidarity and collaboration between journalists remains politicised along the faultlines of the Cyprus Problem.

Event organised by CCMC in April 2011

Event co-organised by CCMC with the Turkish Cypriot Jounalists’ Association (April 2011)

It is clear that more needs to be done to strengthen the links between the media across the Cyprus divide. Over the last few years the UCJ has maintained sporadic contact with the Association of Turkish Cypriot Journalists, while dialogue with Basin Sen – their trade union counterpart – is limited to interaction within the frameworks established by the European Federation of Journalists, and remains tainted from past confrontations within the EFJ General Assembly.

UNESCO sees 3 May as an occasion around which initiatives can be encouraged and developed in support of press freedom. At CCMC we also believe that World Press Freedom Day offers an ideal starting point for journalists across the divide to start to build an understanding and common framework of action around shared principles and values. It is also an opportunity to sensitise all Cypriots about the need for the rights of journalists to be guaranteed, and to inform them that in Cyprus those rights will not be fully safeguarded until a just and lasting settlement is agreed, and a demilitarisation of the island takes place.

With the aim of kickstarting the dialogue to establish a framework for media collaboration in Cyprus, CCMC calls on all journalists’ organisations in Cyprus to attend the first meeting of the MEDIANE – Media in Europe for Diversity Inclusiveness programme, which will take place in Nicosia from 10-12 June, and to utilise this opportunity to build an action plan for the future.

Opening a digital Window to the History of Cyprus

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This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (8 February 2013).

Allow me to start with a few questions: What is the relationship between medieval Cyprus and media? How can centuries-old historical artefacts be brought to life by modern technology? Can a creative interpretation of cultural heritage help cultivate a vision of a common future in Cyprus? At a small gathering at the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) on Saturday 26 January, celebrating over two year’s work on, the Cyprus Artefacts Treasure (CAT) media education project , the answers were clear in our minds.

A little bit of background to start with. In October 2011, and under the auspices of the International Children’s Film Festival of Cyprus, or ICFFCY for short, the participants in CAT 1 got together in a group comprised of 20 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot children from Paphos and Famagusta as well as 10 adults. What we wanted was to respond to the Brussels Declaration, adopted in January 2011 under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, which called for, amongst others, the development and promotion of “pedagogies adapted to each audience, to all ages of life, to varying social and cultural backgrounds”. And what better way to learn about the creative use of media than through the lens of history and culture!

There is often criticism of so-called ‘bicommunal’ projects for not affecting significant changes, but we beg to differ. Because we knew what we wanted to do! Our bicommunal group of eager young Cypriots and enthusiastic educators met regularly over a period of 6 months during the CAT 1 and worked on 5 animation films which illustrated each in its own unique way, a little bit of Cypriot artefacts from the Ayia Irini collection. All of a sudden through the eyes of the children emerged a blend of creativity and history that brought to life a world long forgotten, consigned for the most part to history textbooks, encyclopaedias, and dusty museum displays. In that time we also published two educational booklets about Cypriot artefacts prepared jointly by ICFFCY and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).

The excitement got the better of us! In May 2012 we launched the CAT 2 with the aim of building on the success of CAT 1, and to strengthen the bonds between our two partners, the Famagusta Cultural Association and Paphos Antamosis organisation. We realised that culture and media really could be used as a vehicle for promoting a shared understanding of both past and present, for promoting trust and dialogue, and for nurturing reconciliation. This time we were focusing on medieval Cypriot artefacts.

We traversed the island visiting medieval archaeological, from St Hilarion all the way to Paphos Castle. The work was not always easy of course – there is the issue of language that we had work with, and the very obvious impact of the division of the island. But where there is a will, there is a way. And our group leaders and volunteers worked tirelessly, with a smile on their face and with tremendous energy to keep the momentum of CAT going. In the process we managed to involve not only the children but also their parents, with people experiencing the ‘other’s’ reality, which was an equally rewarding experience.

Whether there will be a CAT 3 remains to be seen. But if there are parents and teachers out there who would like to become involved with our work, or would just like to find out more information about CAT, please visit our website http://www.icffcy-cat.com.

The CAT was supported by the Bicommunal Support Programme of the US Embassy in Cyprus and organised by ICFFCY in collaboration with Mağusa Kültür Derneği in Famagusta and Antamosis in Paphos.

School Competition Against Racism Calls for the Best Student Newspapers

poster ENPress Release issued by the European Commission Representation in Cyprus:

A school competition against racism and xenophobia has been launched by the UN Refugee Agency in Cyprus, the Ombudsman’s office and the European Commission Representation in Cyprus. With the slogan “Talk about racism and xenophobia: silence is not a solution”, the competition is looking for the best student newspapers.

The competition invites public and private secondary schools to create a newspaper with articles, reportages and researches as well as opinions on asylum and migration, racism and xenophobia. Objective and unbiased coverage of these issues is one of the criteria that will determine the winning newspapers.

With regards to the overarching aims of the competition the organisers explain: “We aim at dispelling stereotypes and prejudices against migrants and refugees and to emphasize both the necessity and the benefits that the integration of persons with different backgrounds can yield on the Cypriot society”.

Identifying and addressing racism at schools, with reference to tensions with a racist overtone that occasionally takes place at schools, lies also behind the competition: “The effective management of such incidents by the school community strengthens the resistance of students, and future citizens, against racism; it also responds to the needs of the multicultural society and wider diversity that characterizes Cypriot schools and the society at large,” the proposal reads.

An interview with a refugee or migrant or with an organization that advocates for their rights; an anonymous research within the schools to detect potential racist incidents; the coverage of an event – organised by the students – that brings together migrants and locals; are a few of the 15 suggested stories that students can tackle as young reporters.

In order to support the students’ efforts, the organisers stand ready to provide sources and educational material on the issues of xenophobia, racism and refugees; and to visit schools to discuss with students on these topics.

Six successful newspapers – three from Gymnasiums and three from Lyceums and technical schools – will be selected by an ad hoc committee. School winners will be awarded – at a special ceremony to be announced later – laptops, cameras, video cameras as well as symbolic placards with the inscription “Schools against Racism”. The cost of the awards, including the placards, will be borne by the European Commission Representation.

With the aim to enhance a thorough and critical discussion on the competition’s themes, the organisers expect schools to work as a team and submit one group entry to the competition. Based on this rationale, the awards will be placed at the winning schools for the mutual and common benefits of the students.

Deadline of the competition is the 29th March 2013. All interested schools must submit their newspapers in an electronic format. Check out the event on Facebook and YouTube!

Recipients of CCMC Incentive Awards for Media Collaboration announced today!

The Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) just announced the winners of its Incentive Awards for Media Collaboration at a ceremony at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia (22 January 2013). The Incentive Awards Sceheme, launched in September 2012 under the MultiCommMedia project, aims to promote professional collaboration between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot media. The recipients were NRG TV with Media Works for a project on Cyprus nightlife across the divide, and CyprusNews.eu with Baris Gazetesi for Voices & Echoes – an online news portal.

Have a look at our gallery of photos from today’s ceremony  – we can’t wait to see the collaborations in action!

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CCMC Incentive Awards announced tomorrow!

Photos from Day 2 of CMFE Conference 2011 #cmfe2011

Stop the press!

CCMC is announcing the recipients of its Incentive Awards for Media Collaboration tomorrow Tuesday 22 January, 11 am, at a ceremony at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia.

The Incentive Awards were launched in September 2012 under the MultiCommMedia project in order to promote professional collaboration between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot media, and to initiate a discussion about the importance of a common media space for all Cypriots.

At CCMC we believe wholeheartedly that the exchange of content as well as dialogue among media across the island can play a crucial role in helping all communities understand each other’s daily realities and concerns.

We can’t wait to announce the new partnerships, and we are convinced that their work will create new possibilities for cross-community understanding!

And the newly opened Crossroads Cafe will be providing us with the best coffee and cookies in town!

Momentum for Change: 14 Years of Community Broadcasting in Bangladesh

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The Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has launched its latest publication Momentum for Change: Community Radio in Bangladesh – Voice of the Rural People.

Momentum for Change celebrates the 14-year struggle to open up the community broadcasting in Bangladesh, giving emphasis on its vital role in giving voice to the voiceless and aiming to help to bridge the information gap for rural Bangladesh.

There are currently 14 Community Radio Stations on-air in the country aiming to ensure empowerment and right to information for rural communities. Altogether these stations are broadcasting up to 120 hours of programming per day on information, education, local entertainment and development motivation activities. Around 536 youth & youth-women are now working with those stations throughout the country as rural broadcasters.

The work of BRNNC is an inspiration to all Community Media advocates across the globe, and we here at CCMC, are looking forward to learning about success stories from Bangladesh and other countries where Community Media is taking root!

Civil Society’s New Year’s Wish List

This article was first published on page 19 of The Cyprus Weekly (4 January 2013).

2013, dubbed by many as the most difficult year for Cyprus since 1974, is likely to be a year when the general public, and by extension civil society organisations, will increase their demands on the political leadership in light of economic austerity.

Here’s to wishing (and working) for a Happy New Year 2013!

1) Greater transparency and access to information
Writing in The Cyprus Weekly back in November, Maria Kapardis, Chairperson of Transparency Cyprus, spoke of the urgent need for greater transparency in political party funding, as highlighted in the Council of Europe’s GRECO report in 2011. In December, the presidential candidates who had put forward recommendations for fighting corruption all pulled out of an open discussion organised by Transparency Cyprus on the issue. However, going into 2013, there is a momentum generated behind a move for greater openness at the political level, and with the austerity measures likely to bite hard this year, the demand for transparency and accountability will grow. 2013 will also be a good time to implement the recommendations of the Access Info Cyprus project, which include, amongst others, adopting a law on access to public information, as well as full and proactive publication of information about the structure, policies, functioning, and budget of each public, to be presented in a way that is members of the general public can understand.

2) Protection and support for society’s vulnerable and marginalised groups
“During the economic crisis people with special needs and especially those with severe disability, face bigger problems due to their disabilities. The weight of these measures will affect people with special needs who are living on the poverty line even more.” A statement by the Cyprus Paraplegic Organisation, issued last November condemning impending cuts to government spending on benefits received by people with special needs. Nevertheless cuts went ahead as planned; cuts which will also affect other vulnerable groups in society including recognised refugees and asylum seekers. It appears that the time has come to close ranks in civil society around the issue of social policy and support. No longer are organisations fighting separate causes, and there must be a realisation that there is both a common cause to fight for and a value in the strength in numbers.

3) Establishing a functioning legal framework for civil society
There is a risk that we sound repetitive… However back in August we highlighted the fact that the process for reform of the Cyprus law as this relates to non-governmental organisations was stuck and in urgent need of a kick up the backside. We spoke with both the Ministries of the Interior and Finance, both of whom assured us that progress was being made and that we should expect “movement” in the process by the end of the calendar year. While both ministries may point to more pressing economic concerns, the majority of the groundwork has been done, and what is needed now is more of a ‘political’ push. We hope that after the presidential elections in February progress can be made towards seeing this process through to an acceptable conclusion for all.

4) Effective participation in the Cyprus peace process
Another process which came to a grinding halt last year, but is expected to be resuscitated in the post-election period. Whichever of the candidates assumes the Presidency they will be faced with a population that is frustrated by the lack of clear progress towards a solution. According to research conducted by the bicommunal think-tank Cyprus2015, there is an increasing trend towards a “no” vote: 51% amongst Greek Cypriot and 42% amongst Turkish Cypriots. In light of this, we believe that the leaders of the two communities would do well to consider Cyprus2015’s “five principles” for redesigning the peace process, and in particular to “develop mechanisms of public consultation, to ensure two-way communication between the leadership and society at large, thus creating a peace process which is owned by the grassroots”.

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