Old and New Media

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OLD AND NEW MEDIA: CONVERGING DURING THE PAKISTAN EMERGENCY (MARCH 2007-FEBRUARY 2008) Abstract
Arguments about digital technology, civic engagement, and collective action are often framed in the context of political participation in developed nations, particularly, the United States. Many have concluded that the availability of digital technologies and new media platforms facilitates democratic practices and participatory behavior. Whether this is equally true of the developing world remains to be critically examined. Pakistan is a developing nation where digitally networked technologies and new media platforms are emerging, and where a struggle to establish democratic norms amidst authoritarian superstructures is underway. Between March 2007 and February 2008, a period referred to colloquially as the ‘Pakistan Emergency,’ a state of emergency was imposed, the constitution suspended, a popular politician assassinated, media censorship enforced, and general elections conducted. To help address the knowledge gap about new media and democracy in the developing world, this research paper examines how digital technologies--such as cellphones and live internet streams--and new media platforms--including blogs, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook--were used to promote democracy, coordinate action, and disseminate citizen journalism during the ‘Pakistan Emergency.’ This research finds that the Pakistani media landscape is multifaceted, comprising a combined--or alternating--use of different mainstream media sources, digital technologies, and new media platforms, depending on availability and security. Moreover, the study finds that the participation gap--the ability to meaningfully use digital technologies and new media--impacts participatory behavior and civic action far more than the digital divide, which is often overcome through the combined use of different technologies. The study also concludes that new media platforms are increasingly effective as tools for community organizing and information dissemination, that authoritarian regimes are quick to adapt digitally networked technologies to their own ends, and that news reporting in Pakistan is gravitating towards a hybrid model whereby old and new media platforms collaborate to keep the public informed. About the MIT Center for Future Civic Media

The Center for Future Civic Media (http://civic.mit.edu) supports research at MIT to innovate civic media tools and practices and test them in communities. Bridging two established programs at MIT--one known for inventing alternate technical futures, the other for identifying the cultural and social potential of media change--the Center for Future Civic Media is a joint effort between the MIT Media Lab and the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. It is made possible by a four-year grant from the Knight Foundation. About the author

Huma Yusuf holds a master’s degree from MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. She was a research associate at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media during the 2007-2008 academic year. Her academic research at MIT examined how new media platforms and mediated practices help shape urban identity and negotiate street violence. As a print and online journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan, she reports on Pakistani politics, media trends, development, and violence against women. She is the recipient of the European Commission’s 2006 Natali Lorenzo Prize for Human Rights Journalism and the UNESCO/Pakistan Press Foundation 2005 Gender in Journalism Award. Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Media vacuum: Blocking independent television in Pakistan 3. Disconnected: Jamming cellular networks
4. Student activism/digital activism
5. Citizen journalism: Redefining media and power
6. New media and citizenship
7. Civilians with camera phones
8. Pakistani vs. Western new media use
Appendix A: Timeline of events
Appendix B: Pakistani blogs
Footnotes
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