MEDIAFORUM Archive 2000

Malaysia: Malaysiakini on the DotCom Path to Democracy
by M. Nadarajah (3-4/2000)


Malaysiakini, an independent bilingual news source and Malaysia's first professionally produced online newspaper on the Internet, offers anyone interested, alternative narratives on Malaysia that follow the convention that an increasing number of Malaysians as well as others see as constituting "independent journalism" (read "a journalism not guided by officialdom") and therefore as fair, honest and courageous. It is seen as taking an increasing number of readers closer to the "truth" of what is happening in Malaysia. That this is so, is clear when one considers the visitors per day to the site - this has increased from about 75,000 hits at the beginning of this year to about 110,000 today. Malaysiakini came into existence at an opportune time in political history. The sacking and arrest of deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, in 1998 set in motion a wave of protest and changes in Malaysia, all demanding "reformasi" (reformation, in particular political reformation). It brought many issues of critical importance into focus, covering socio-cultural, political, legal, economic and technological aspects. An issue of particular importance during the height of the Anwar episode was the behaviour of the mainstream media. Many Malaysians were suspect of the reliability, honesty and fairness of the mainstream Malaysian media, both print and electronic.

Online-Forum in Asia: Opportunity for Christian NGO's to Join Forces
by David Lin (3-4/2000)


The online forum of the Asian region of the World Association of Christian Communication (AR-WACC) was made possible by the free service offered by ChurchNet, an NGO based in Seoul, South Korea. The location is excellent and within one year South and North Korea started its reconciliation process. I can't help but recall this Korean link in the entire scenario of AR-WACC's priority concern on reconciliation and new technology. Engaging ChurchNet in the team to provide hosting of Listserve would moreover realise my vision of bridging the digital-divide, between those who can afford access to Internet and those who cannot, and serving the whole Christian communicator community to Asia. Listserve at that time was facilitated mainly through emails, however I found that not all Asian WACC members had email despite the surge in the number of users. So I suggested the design of a homepage that allows users (who can't use email but manage to access a homepage) to submit their comments through a form in the homepage via a "Write" button, which would in effect transmit the email message to all registered email users in the Listserve.This dual method of electronic access revolutionised the traditional use of Listserve (only via email) by many NGOs and church agencies at that time, and was used by AR-WACC for the first time.

Internet in Vietnam: Unity of Contrast
by Jörg Becker (3-4/2000)


The Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park Project did a recent survey on how 100 early Internet users in Vietnam make use of the Internet. The results are particularly fascinating in the areas in which they differ from the European ones: Here, the normal culture critic sees the Internet as automatically being the end of traditional culture as we know it, the Vietnamese think differently about this. More than half of all questioned see no contrast between the modern Internet world and the old world of their ancestors. The expansion of the Net is as important to them as the sentence: "We should never forget the wisdom of our ancestors". It is not as it is here - old contra new - but a unity of contrasts, as Lao Tse already taught 2,600 years ago.

Africa: Access to New Information and Communication Technology "Under Construction"
by Michel Philippart (3-4/2000)


It is evident that Africa is still far from being like the rest of the world in many aspects, including media and communications and in particular in the field of new information and communication technologies (NICT). As we can easily presume, Africa has the lowest rate of Internet users, host sites and Internet Service Providers, but at the same time Africa currently shows the highest growth rate in the world. One has even started to talk about "e-business" in Africa...

Teologia en el Internet: Servicios Koinonía y su revista RELaT
por José María Vigil (3-4/2000)


Servicios Koinonia (SK) was launched at Easter 1993 in Managua. At the end of 1992, I subscribed to the e-mail service of the APC network, access provider to the Nicarao network, one of the first Internet providers in Latin America. Its news groups were the inspiration for the idea described below. Why not set up a theological conference and biblical commentary service to support the Sunday liturgy? I called on the support of the Nicarao network and a short time later the Revista Electrónica Latinoamericana de Teología (RELaT, Latin American Electronic Theological Review) and the Biblical Service were founded. From the outset they have been the mainstay and heart of Servicios Koinonia, and in addition, they were the first theological journal and the first biblical service to appear on the Internet.

The Computer Network of the Church in Latin America: Networks for Communion
by Leticia Soberón Mainero (3-4/2000)


The famous «digital culture» is strongly connected to technology, however, it is much more than just technology. We all know that those who remain outside this cultural wave will be excluded from the great patrimony of culture - and surely of economy - in the third millennium. The technological innovation race doesn't know where it is going yet. Thousands of people seek to improve programmes and machines, but... what do they mean with improve? Where is their horizon? Technological development ends in nonsense if it lacks a correct anthropology and the light of the Gospel. The experiences of the Latin American information network of the Church (Red Informática de la Iglesia en América Latina, RIIAL) consist of using technological innovations, putting them at the service of communication and communion; we have tried to generate - at least in the Church context - a culture of solidarity, enhancing the same technological development (communion and progress!). In other words, the Church has been present in this culture in such a way that it could emerge with a particular impression in many communities of Latin America. At the same time the rising culture made its mark on the pastoral work of the Church. That is why she is, in many places, both the promoter and the result of the digital era.

Congo: Zoba Moke - Une Bande Desinée Educative et Critique
par Hilaire Mbiye Lumbala (02/2000)


Zoba Moke is back in the Catholic weekly "La Semaine Africaine" from Congo-Brazzaville, for about a year now. The character reflects the opinion of the ordinary people in Brazzaville affected by the cuts in the electricity supply or the lack of water, by the violence of the militia or the arbitrary. Zoba Moke has meanwhile become a part of the newspaper's editorial team. Using jokes and humour to expose the evils affecting the Congolese society, questioning the readers as to "what they think about....", aiming to provoke their reactions to a non-acceptance of the sad situations affecting the country and the Congolese situation.

Journalism Training in Poland: Opening of the European Centre for Communication and Culture

by A. Sofie Jannusch (2/2000)


Building Bridges to Europe is the overall aim of the new journalism training centre in Poland, to be opened in autumn this year. The European Centre for Communication and Culture (ECCC) is run by the Jesuits with its provincial Fr. Andrzej Koprowski; the journalistic section is directed by the radio and TV producer, Grzegorz Dobroczynski SJ. The ECCC was built up with the financial aid of two German funding organisations - Renovabis and Church in Need.

Colombia: La Television Local y Comunitaria
por Christoph Dietz (1/2000)


The Colombian NGO's CINEP and the HablaScribe Foundation realised a national survey of local and community television stations in 1997, in which they interviewed 265 from a total of 309 known channels. It is the first quantitative study of community television in Latin America. According to the results of the study the "typical" local television station in Colombia could be characterised as follows: the station receives the majority of the programmes by satellite and distributes them by cable; produces about 15 programmes per month locally, in particular news; transmits about 16 hours per week, mostly at the weekend; it is located in small or medium sized towns; has about 3,000 subscribers; is run by volunteers, mainly young adults; and has very poor financial resources.

Fundacion Konrad Adenauer en América Latina: Cooperando con el Sector de los Medios
por Frank Priess (1/2000)


For more than 25 years now, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation collaborates with projects in the communication field all over Latin America. Today's activities are organised within the regional program of "Media and Democracy" co-ordinated by the "Interdisciplinary Centre of Studies on the Latin-American Development" in Buenos Aires. As the media performance of state related organisms is chronically bad the foundation dedicates a lot of activities to investigations, publications, workshops etc. to improve communication skills and the journalist's qualifications. After working in both areas the capacitating and formation of journalists is emphasised today. Analysing the foundation's experiences in supporting the media sector, one approach could be, to think in decentralising activities and concentrating activities in three fields: (1) the relation of media and politics, (2) politics and the right to communicate and (3) capacitating of journalists.