E-Democracy: May be in the future

The core rights of citizenship and critism of the basic structure of communication have been powerfully linked in the work of Raymond William, who argues that the basic rights of citizen to speak and hear are linked to the power to transmit and receive information.(Friedland,1996)In order to transfer the political system from representative democracy to direct democracy, it is crutial to provide certain platforms for citizens by governments to receive as well as trasmit inf0rmation about current issues in the state. If these platforms can be accessable from internet, it may be easier for citizens to follow and make contributions.

 

Being able to contribute to the state issues, citizens would feel ‘involved’ and ‘ part of the state’. However, electronic usage can also limit the amount of citizens. Although, Barber advocates teledemocratic measures, he does so only within a series of measures oriented toward ‘strong democracy’, including the use of new commmunications technologies to develop strengthened neighborhood assemblies, televised town meetings, a national civic communications cooperative, a civic videotex service to equalize access to information and promote full civic education of all citizens, and electronic balloting.Barber does not offer these measures as ends in themselves, but as means to develop stronger citizen participation in democratic governance in a society in which national scale precludes direct democratic assembly.(Friedland, 1996)

 

Electronic democracy can be seen possible at the moment. On the other hand, it may be implementted effeciently 0nly in the up coming decades. It is not enough just providing adequate conditions for the citizens. If not a lot of people do not go and vote once in 4 or 5 years, why would they want to be involve in the process almost everyday?If just a minority group use the electronic democracy technologies, then how we can differ that political system from representted democracy?

 

 

 

References;

Friedland, L. A. (1996) “Electronic democracy and the new citizenship”, in Media, Culture and Society, vol. 18, pp. 185-212

 

“Israel Loves Iran” Campaign

The conflict between Iran and Israel causes black clouds on Middle East region. All over the World, the tension between these two states, Iran and Israel, is wellknown. However, “Isreal-Loves-Iran” Movement in Facebook was a good example of people who are eager to create communication with eachother in this crisis environment.  Movement startted with Ronny Edry, citizen from Israel, postted a photo on Facebook holding his daughter and an Israeli flag saying “Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we love you ” on 12/03/2012. In few hours, many people from Israel shared the same message in their profiles with their own pictures.  In 24 hours Iranians startted to send same massages back : “Isrealians, we love you too”. This huge wave grew day by day and gave a kick off to the establishment of “Peace Factory”. The motto was simple but clear ” They advertise war. We will advertise peace.”

 

We can categorize the slogan of “Israel Loves Iran” as cultural and political jamming.  There is political aspect of this conlict issue as well as its social aspect. Just like with the more classic  ‘corporate’ cultural jams, civil society actors also increasingly use cultural jamming techniques in their political communication and politically orientted campaigns. (Bailey, Cammaerts & Carpentier,2008) In the beginning of the “Israel Loves Iran” Campaign, it was more relatted to social aspects of the issue. We can see this by looking at the projects they worked on. Projects like “Iranians in Tel Aviv”, “Peace-Product of the Year” , “Shana Tova/ Happy New Year”, “Send a Heart” and “Coffee with You”  are basicly focusing on increasing the social awareness in both societies by mentionning better communcation and creating peaceful communication environment between two communities. Project about the political aspect came afterwards. “Vote Peace” ,”Stop War”, “War! What War?”, “Not Ready to Die in Your War” and “M12-Peace Day” projects aim to show Isrealian’s reactions about the government’s policies.

 

The policies that both governments foster is not supportted by certain amount of people from both communities. This campaign helped them to show their dissents by jamming the so-called verity, Israel hates Iran and turned it to a slogan. It can be a good example to take attention of a lot of people and create a certain awareness. However, it can not be effecient unless there is a physical communication not just a virtual one. Until, they make new projects in order to build the physical interaction among the citizens of two states, the campaign will not go forwards.

 

References;

Bailey, O. G., Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (2008) Understanding Alternative Media. Berkshire: Open University Press

http://www.israelovesiran.com/

https://www.facebook.com/israellovesiran

 

 

Ötekilerin Postası (Post of the Others)

Barber puts forward a set of concepts which describe the various functions of democratic “talk” and which provide a theoretical framework for understanding some of the ways in which access television functions as a political communication resource.(Stein, 1998)With the help of these functions, we will examine a case of “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others) effectively and focus on democratic functions of alternative media.

-Agenda Setting; “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others) is following an approach that encourage citizen participation in agenda-setting.”Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others)  startted as an alternative media during the hunger strikes in prisons in Turkey. Since the beginning of strikes the mainstream media did not function effectively and inform the public even there were hundreds of strikers. The founders of “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others)  explain the beginning of the process  by outlining the question; “Why do we need the mainstream media?”

-Exploring Mutuality and Affiliation and Affection; “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others) helps people to involve in political communcation and express their feeling, in their words about the issues concerns them.They do not consider themselves as news portal but also social responsible platform that involves in social projects. “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others) aims to be the voice of “the Others”, which became others by the system, and by doing that creating awareness in the society.

-Maintaining Autonomy; By letting people to re-evaluate their opinions and values “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others)  guides individuals to reproduce a certain autonomy. Volunteer citizen journalists share videos and pictures that they shoot and expose their  ideas about current issues.

-Witness and Self-expression; “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others)  allows diverse groups to represent themselves on their own.Ötekilerin Postası charactarizes itself as a fisherman in Trabzon,a transgender in İzmir, Kürt in Haymana, Armenian in İstanbul,  Miner in Zonguldak, Alevi in Dersim, Suryani in Mardin, a teacher who waits for assignment in Bilecik, thousands of disabled people ve thousands of students who demostrates in streets.

-Reformulation and Reconceptualisation;Reformulation and Reconceptualisation of political and social terms and values is part of participatory democratic functions. “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others) focuses on especially fascist and racist discourses. It’s major topics are; gender, human rights, youth,labour,conscientious objection and etc.

-Community-building; “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others)  promote active citizenship by encouraging individuals to be volunteer journalists.It startted as “Hunder Strike Post” in the 40th day of the strike by volunteer 2 activists independently from the main-stream media. By sharing the strike process with the audience transparently, “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others) increased the number of its followers day by day. ( https://www.facebook.com/OtekilerinPostasi ) It’s motto is ; we make a hole on censorship with citizen journalism.

As we outlined the framework of the “Ötekilerin Postası”(Post of the Others), it is important to ask what made them ask the question of “Why following just main-stream media?”.

 

 

References;

Stein, L. (1998) “Democratic “Talk, Access Television and Participatory Political Communication” , in Swiss Journal of Sociology, vol. 5,pp.21-34

http://otekilerinpostasi.org/

 

Community Radio as a means of Communication

It will be a deepening discussion while focusing on communication’s reasons. “Whats” of communication and “Hows” of communication replaced to reasons(“why”) of communication. In this case, most of the scholars mention that those reasons quite related to the identification process of the audiences. In other words, a need of defining themselves in the current society and their own communities encourage people to be part of several communication paterns in order to express themselves.

Alternative media provides wider opportunites for people to express themselves rather than mainstream media. For instance, Radio Popolare made interviews with the local people in Milan in May 1977 during and after the riot. An interpretation of what happened takes shape from the contributions of the different people involved. Each person is asked for their political analysis…So, things happen during the day on the streets and are discussed at night on the radio.(Lewis, 1984)

Algan examines social role of the local radio in Sanliurfa, which is located in the poor rural south-eastern part of Turkey, for Turkish youth.She focuses on why the local commercial radio stations in Sanliurfa functions as alternative media for the Turkish youth and how they cross and transform the boundary between the ‘media’ and‘ordinary’ worlds to create a space for themselves.(Algan, 2005)  She argues that in traditional Turkish culture, unmarried young people have very littlesay in issues that matter to them and have no power over their education, jobs or marriage decisions. Respect for elders requires that a young person must not even talk back to his/her father. However, talk radio offers them much needed liberation by functioning as a discursive space in which tocriticize societal norms without the surveillance of the dominant group,families and their fathers.(Algan, 2005)

Expression is what we do in daily life. We express ourselves to everyone we engage during the day via language, our clothes, our facial expressions, our gestures and etc. While we express ourselves, we also express the elements that compose our identity. In other words, when we have need to express our thoughts we also have a need to express certain/varied elements from our identity.

 

References;

Lewis, P. (1984) “Community Radio: The Montreal Conference and after”, in Media, Culture and Society, vol. 6, pp. 137-150.

Algan, E.(2005) “The role of Turkish local radio in theconstruction of a youth community”, in The Radio Journal – International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media Vol.6 Number 2, pp. 75-92 http://www.academia.edu/171111/The_role_of_Turkish_local_radio_in_the_construction_of_a_youth_community

The Volunteer Aspect of The Underground Press

When we look at the underground press, volunteer labor plays an important role. As the sources are limited and small money in the sector, it is almost impossible to pay an avarage wage to the labor. That is the reason why, underground press provides its labor from volunteers.

 

Having volunteer has economical advantages for sure. However, it also has a lot of disadvantages. First of all, it is hard to find a qualified labor who took certain, neccessary training or/and had enough experience in the current field. Those volunteers are mostly young people who wants to get some experience and do not have a lot of financial obligations or people who already have current jobs but want to get involved in underground press because of their worldview/interests. In both sides, working volunteerly as a part of underground press definitely related to their world view. If you do not share the similar perspective with the underground press that you are part of, it is hard to work for it volunteerly. As a result, it is essential to determine your target audience as they are and will be your volunteers as well. Instead of gaining a wider readership, actually led to a decline in circulation , since many of the potential audience felt that their sectional interests were already better served by specialist publications that concentrated in grater detail on particular area. (Khiabany, G. 2000) In other words, in underground press sector, you need to have specific worldview, specific target audience who share the similar worldview with your press. After you recruit your volunteers, it is the first step in order to make them feel that they are not just working for your press but they can use your press as a chanel to express themselves.

 

Second of all, another disadvantages of having volunteer labor is, you can not be sure from the sustainability. As they are not tied to your underground press economically, it is understandable if they decide to move on from different field. For this case, it is important to have a certain person who is responsible from the volunteers. As a result, this person can observe the involvement process of the volunteers and strengthen volunteers’ ties by using certain methods like one-to-one discussions to get feedback as well as setting new goals for them in order to keep them still interested in the subject. Of course, it will help to broaden the horizons of the volunteers to keep them in the organization. However, I believe giving different job descriptions also very crucial. For a volunteer, it is important to enjoy and improve her/his potentials. If a certain person does same things, first it may seem interesting to learn and challange themselves but after a while, it becomes monotone and not very enjoyable. That’s why, periodicly shifting the vacancies and encouring volunteers to work in different areas will make them enthusiactic to stay more in the underground press.

 

In conclusion, it is  hard to run a underground press as the sources are scarce. However, using different strategies will help the organization to figure out what they should not do and what they should do by making mistakes. Making mistakes is not a fault but making same mistakes again and again and not learning from them is not realistic and rationalistic.

 

References;

Khiabany, G. (2000) “Red Pepper: a New Model for the Alternative Press?”, in Media, Culture and Society, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 447-463

 

 

 

 

 

Diversifying the Media

One of the best thing about Alternative Media is, it is not racist, not political, not corporate base, not nationalistic etc. and at the same time it is. There is absolute uncertanity about the Alternative Media’s background as it is not directing by any kind of dominant actor.This condition help us to observe the daily life not only with the help of traditional media but with multi-dimensional news source.

Alternative Media is also can be seen as little earthquakes as they prevent the bigger earthquake to happen. Alternative Media helps marginalized identities(gays,lesbians, women,youth,handicup people etc.) and minorities to express their needs and expectations as well as their perpectives for current issues. These groups have almost no representation in legislation levels in order to adress their needs and solve their problems. As a result, with the help of critical media they can predicate themselves in public arenas. One should add here that there can be and are situations in society, where the consciousness of the dominated class is manipulated and one only finds a weakly developed multitude. In such situations, critical media that express the experiences of these masses, although they are not politically conscious of their being, are still necessary and will take on different organizational forms from situations of heavy class struggles or revolutions.(Fuchs)

In some extend dominant actors are using alternative media in order to implement their interests and get feedback from their target communities.However, they do not have full control to direct it. On the contrary, we are aware of the link between Agenda-Setting Media/Elite Media and major powers like political,business,doctoral managers and journalists. Maybe this is one of the reason why people start chucking out their televisions and stop watching it.