Broadcasting Board of Governors, Innovation Series website, 13 Apr 2012
, Davin Hutchins, managing editor of VOA Middle East Voices: "What does the future of international broadcasting look like in the age of mobile? Should journalists focus on providing objective information even though information is no longer scarce in the age of the Internet? Should public diplomats focus on explaining a foreign policy or rather sparking discussion and promoting free speech even if it’s critical of that policy? These are questions we ask ourselves daily – no hourly – at Middle East Voices. Middle East Voices is a newly launched 'social journalism' project hatched out of VOA English. The website soft-launched in November of 2011 and is gearing up for a bigger debut after the MEV team completes its 'innovation boot camp' with the 'incubators' at the BBG’s Office of Digital and Design Innovation (ODDI). Originally conceived as a community that uses participatory journalism to focus on Arab Spring uprisings – which we still do especially in Syria, Egypt and Bahrain – we are expanding our scope to address the wider phenomenon of grass-roots democratization across the Middle East, including the Arabian Gulf and Iran. While the Arab Spring is usually associated with revolution and regime change, our sense is Arab Spring 2.0 will revolve around monarchies implementing reforms, citizens demanding more civil and social rights and the free exchange of ideas about what home-grown democracy should look like in the region. As a digital-only project, Middle East Voices has become obsessed with conversing with our sources and audience on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and WordPress. We obsessively pour over Google Analytics in real-time – and over long periods of time – to draw conclusions about the issues Arab countries really care about so we can constantly refine our coverage. We have learned a lot about how international broadcasting must evolve – and quickly – to serve a vital role in this rapidly changing landscape. We’ve come up with five rules on innovation that journalists and public diplomats should follow to remain relevant to their audiences." -- The same five rules for journalists and public diplomats? Journalism and public diplomacy are very different, indeed adversarial, endeavors. Is Middle East Voices journalism or public diplomacy? Or is it trying to be some combination of each?
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"Innovation means risk and risk often means failure. We have 10 new ideas per week and 7 of them fail. But 3 don’t. Lessons learned from risks are invaluable." -- Agree completely.
See also Middle East Voices.
Family Security Matters, 13 Apr 2012, John Hajjar: "In her post which appeared in Middle East Voices this week, Cecily Hilleary (pictured above) regurgitated the same Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) talking points about Professor Walid Phares that Brooke Anderson of Beirut’s Daily Star did back in January. Both women parroted CAIR spin saying that 'many American Muslims have expressed concern about Romney’s choice of Walid Phares as an adviser,' but neither offered a single shred of evidence to support their claim. ... I do not know how Congress which funds VOA will look at this biased reporting. The situation is serious as Hilleary wrote for the taxpayer-funded organization. According to MEV’s website the organization is 'a new social journalism project powered by the (US Congress-funded) BBG and Voice of America. Designed as a collaborative journalism and engagement platform, it seeks to combine investigative journalism, crowdsourcing, participatory writing and social media technology to redefine how stories in and about the Middle East should be told.' All of this bias ... raises the specter of penetration of the US bureaucracy by pro-Islamists. Congress should investigate the real story behind Hilleary’s article along with other propaganda pieces which are funded by taxpayers."