For two weeks civil servants, activists and some politicians are meeting in Madrid for the 25th summit of the UN’s conference of the parties – COP25. By Friday, 13 December 2019, they will have debated issues concerning the climate – once again. Will it help? Hopefully, but only time will tell. The Guardian has compiled an excellent overview of what to expect before the climate conference started on 2 December. Read it, but also do your own research, for instance on COP25’s own website. For instance, how many did Norway send to Madrid during these two weeks? Did the UK send anyone, or were they too busy campaigning ahead of the general election on 12 December? Has COP25 actually achieved anything now that there are only days left, or are they postponing most things until next year and COP26, since most countries has 2020 as one of their deadlines, whether for attaining the previous targets, set in Copenhagen, or revising the objectives set in the Paris Accord.
Press freedom and journalistic independence are values that democratic societies cherish. Unfortunately, too many countries do not respect these values. Today we will look at press freedom in the world. You will each be allotted a country. Spend the rest of the lesson doing research on this country’s treatment of the media, and condition and status of free press.
Write 2-3 paragraphs on your blog about this (the country’s treatment of their media, and the condition and status of a free press in the country). No evaluation- but you should be prepared to discuss your findings in class.
Use the websites Reporters Without Borders (https://rsf.org/en) and Committee to Protect Journalists (https://cpj.org/). You may use other sources as well. If you come across specific stories about journalists/bloggers/ others who have somehow been punished for their involvement in and use of media, tell us!
-IN THE NEWS-
What is going on in Hong Kong?
Every day, the situation in the former British colony Hong Kong seems to be escalating. Today you are going to find out why there have been so many demonstrations, what the latest development is and how the protesters have organized themselves. You should also comment on the election results- what does it say, and how do you think this will affect Hong Kong’s future?
Look at two various English-speaking media to find information about this. Write a blog post in which you write about your findings, using your own words.
You have read two texts about water, showing how water is essential not only to maintain life but to experience quality of life. Choose one or more of the areas that the texts discuss, whether they are social, environmental or economic issues, and write a blog post about how water is an integral part of your chose area(s).
Last week you worked to help enable youth in DR Congo choose education over working in mines. But did you know that that is only one issue the country is facing? Another is Ebola, and an epidemic has plagued the country since August 2018. Sadly, people working towards spreading information and trying to prevent the disease from spreading further are becoming targets… Read this short update from BBC for the current situation and yesterday’s violent attack on a journalist and his wife.
Fake news is an expression often used by the US President and he is known for criticizing media. On October 24, President Trump announced that the White House should cancel its subscriptions to The Washington Post and The New York Times. The reason why, is, according to the Guardian, that these newspapers present unfair coverage of him. Trump’s administration now instructs other federal agencies to do the same, to “save costs”.
What does Tump signalize by doing this?
In which ways can democracy be undermined by almost banning certain media outlets?
Read this article by the Freedom House. Look at the map, and find out which countries have the greatest challenges with press freedom .
Find a country that is described in the article, and summarize, using your own words, what the media situation is like in this country.
Where and when do you read? Do you only use digital platforms and read news, social media feeds and fiction online? Or do you sometimes pick up an actual newspaper or book to read? And how long does it last until you get distracted? By your thoughts, by something popping up on you cell phone screen, or by actual people, or real-life events?
Did you know that research shows that onscreen reading makes us more impatient? And that this Guardian article draws upon the same research, and adds a number of other studies from across the world to prove its point? The first task for you in today’s lesson is to read these two articles, the second longer than the first, and track your own reactions. As the first challenges you overtly to react a certain way, the second challenges you more covertly. How do you respond? Monitor your reactions and take notes along the way.
The second task this lesson is to read two more articles, one from BBC and one from UC Berkeley. They both encourage you to read, but for different purposes and within different genres, thus also presenting different strategies. Take notes, depending on your previous experience with study techniques. Did you learn anything new from reading these articles? Or do you already employ these strategies on a daily basis?
But the main question for today is: how did you do when asked to read almost an hour in one sitting?
Mohsin Hamid’s captivating novel from 2007 takes us on a journey to Pakistan, the USA, Greece and the Philippines. Through the eyes of the main character Changez, we learn about his past and present life in addition to real-life events.
This week you should write a brief blog entry about the novel. In your blog post, write about what you think of the novel so far. Do you like it or not, and does it seem realistic? Why? Why not? Explain your viewpoints.In addition, you should write a brief summary of what has happened so far.
Did you know that Ebola is still not eradicated? Nor HIV, despite existing medicines? Nor measles? Nor a number of other diseases? Why, in today’s day and age? Two weeks ago, the New York Times published an article about the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has been five years since the world was scared almost into hysteria during the “last outbreak”, but was it really the last outbreak?
A week ago NRK published a series of pictures released by Doctors Without Borders, listing several forgotten humanitarian crises. I have not been able to find that topic mentioned in other media the last month.
And on a considerably different note, the Saudi Crown Prince was interviewed last night by the CBS show 60 Minutes. He was asked about wide-ranging topics, from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago, to women’s rights, to the war in Yemen. Did you know there is a war in Yemen?
Tomorrow in class you are going to write for 90 minutes. The tasks will invite you to discuss media in terms of global crises. You might not use any of these topics in your discussion, and media’s focus on Greta Thunberg, or on the Notre Dame fire rather than the fires in Brazil’s rainforest, could be equally interesting starting points. But you do need a starting point, a point of reference, when discussing how media works, or for whom media works, or in which situations we rely on media, or however I plan on phrasing one or two tasks for you. Good luck, and do not hesitate contacting me if you have any questions for tomorrow!
The name and actions of Edward Snowden has been a presence in debates about both media and democracy during the last six years, and a recurrence has been posing the question “hero or traitor?”. Why the need to use such polarizing labels? Does that mean that people see the world in either – ors? Black and white? Right and wrong? Good and bad?
Write a blog post in which you reflect on reasons behind and / or effects of polarizing a debate. You may exemplify through the debate around Snowden, but you are welcome to use other examples as illustrations of a polarized debate as well.