Saturday, August 6, 2011

Please forgive the impersonal nature of this response

Ending week 3 in my search for a literary agent for my new book, Professor Komagum—Finding peace and losing my sanity in Uganda. A couple of nibbles (“this is interesting, send me a couple of chapters”), a couple of automated rejection letters (“please forgive the impersonal nature of this response”), but mostly silence thus far. For an impatient person, this is indescribable torture.

Update from Ugandan correspondent

Just received an interesting letter from our intrepid Ugandan correspondent Tabu, who is one of the smartest, most well informed people I know, despite the fact that he continues to stubbornly support Uganda’s corrupt president Yoweri Museveni.
Some highlights of Tabu’s dispatch:

Weather and witchcraft: Worse of all the rains were accompanied with thunder and lightening/ Schools were much affected. One school 5 kids were struck dead at ago-at another 6 and teacher struck dead. Most of the schools were affected and in Gulu. 30 kids were struck dead recently- terrible- terrible. But right now it is back to very hot sunshine. Grass trees, withering. Some people here who still believe in witchcraft were interpreting the lightening deaths as spells inflicted and induced by evil spirits. Some of us still live in/with Stone Age ideas.

Peace journalism: (In reference to post below from July 18) It is surprising Steve despite his efforts there are still those in the U.S.A who don’t see how their reporting can be detrimental and talking about mob- justice, you have seen nothing about it (compared to Uganda). Nancy Grace has only to visit Uganda and watch one of our local TV’s, she will revise her reporting almost instantly. (Regarding mob justice), on T.V we see no less than five people being torched to death (by a vigilante mob) using blazing tires. This is on only suspicion. The police have tried to sensitize the public on not talking justice in their own hands to no avail...

Thanks, Tabu. Stay safe and well.

Bloggers put themselves at-risk during Arab Spring

Also getting my attention this week was a survey commissioned by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.. The key findings from the survey, conducted in May, were:

1. The survey respondents, primarily bloggers residing in the Middle East and North Africa, experienced a remarkably high incidence of security incidents related to their online activity over the past year, including cyber attacks, personal threats, arrest, and detention.
2. Survey respondents reported a wide range of methods employed to mitigate the risks of online activity, including self-censorship, obscuring their identities, and writing in ambiguous language.
3. Design and ease of use, rather than security-related features, are reported to be the most important considerations in choosing online platforms.
4. Even within this set of at-risk bloggers, only a small number reported that they understand or implement best practices related to online security.

The survey clearly demonstrates the need to integrate security issues and best safety practices into trainings for online journalists. I know in my seminars, I have begun to broaden my discussion of journalists’ safety.

For a complete look at the IWPR survey, click here.

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