My Films

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thesis update: Chat the Planet

Alright, there's a little over four months to go before I complete my 100 page thesis and turn it in. AHHHHHH!!!! Scary at the same time but incredibly exciting, as I will able to compile all that I have learnt and thought about for the past year and half. I've also just switched advisers (the previous one is retiring so I had to get a new one anyways) and I feel good about getting guided down a path of successful thesis writing.

My larger topic is media and peace but that as you can imagine is a pretty broad subject. I've seemed to have successfully ordered every book on that came up while searching for those keywords. Media and peace includes: peace journalism or sometimes called conflict-sensitive journalism; the role news media plays in peace processes; hate and propaganda media; radio-drama peace building media; information communication technology; citizen journalism and so and so on.

And while there is important information to be taken from all the above areas, I'm particularly interested in an uncharted area of media and peace. And that is, how does new media technology contribute to a culture of peace?

What do I mean by that exactly? Well, I'm interested in understanding first what is peace building media. What are the theories behind it? What has to be considered when making media that will effectively contribute to peacebuilding? and then how is the Internet or Web 2.0 being used to distribute this peacebuilding media (ie. through Youtube etc)? and because of the internet acceptability, does it allow for more interactivity and dialog between people (possibly people from opposite sides of conflict)?

My main case study for this thesis will be an organization called Chat the Planet. They are a youth media dialog organization based in New York and for sometime now they have been making media that brings youth together to dialog about issues that are important to them. Right before the war on Iraq began, Chat the Planet organized a two-way satellite TV show that brought young Americans and young Iraqis to talk with each other.

Their latest project is Hometown Baghdad is a webisode about three young Iraqis living under the US Occupation. Originally, they sought funding and distribution from the major US Networks but when they were turned down with reasons such as, "No one is interested in Iraq anymore," and "By the time this airs, the war will be over." They then privately raised money to hire an Iraqi crew to capture these every day stories and distribute it through Youtube. Well, their show was widely popular, so much so that they got a distribution deal with NBC later on.

Anyways, here is the first episode of their series which aired on the 4th anniversary of the war.

I'll be posting more thoughts on media, web 2.0 and peace over the next couple of months. Excited to be moving forward on this~!

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