Thursday 7 January 2010

Overcoming negative stereotypes in the South Caucasus

New media can be good and bad as any media can be good and bad, depending on the content of communication and the presentation of the content.

Earlier this week we could witness how the interplay of new communication forms and the machinery of the traditional media companies trying to make money from attention interplayed to create a hype around something without real importance, distracting from the questions that need an answer in our societies or, speaking as a cosmopolitan, in our common society.

Yet, there are things that won't make it into mainstream media, but which actually deserved to be there - like the project "Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the South Caucasus". The project lacks a Mr Bean picture, but we can raise interest by telling its story.

So what is the project about:
"The project aims to promote positive examples of ethnic groups coexisting peacefully in a volatile region riven with frozen conflicts in an attempt to provide an alternative to what is usually a partisan local media that not only self-censors, but also spreads misinformation and negative propaganda. As with the first stage of the project, the focus was on ethnic Armenians and Azeris living in Georgia."
It is great to see that bloggers and journalists co-operate with the help of new media to show that two ethnic groups whose countries still haven't resolved their conflict over Nagorno Karabakh are able to live together peacefully and with joy in a third country.

Through the project, its texts, and its picture series we learn that what looks like a "natural" conflict is nothing but political conflict economy, that people and peoples can live together if they aren't told that they can't.

And through the new media we can all find out.

You can see this in the way I found the project:

I follow @letzi83, Media and External Relations coordinator for the European Youth Forum in Brussels, on Twitter.

She retweeted a message from @ianyanmag informing about the project, including its Twitter account @caucasusproject that has 58 followers by now and will hopefully get more - please follow them and amplify their voice(s)!

The last tweet of the project includes a link to a blog article on Global Voices Online titled "Caucasus: Unity in Diversity" reporting about the latest new media coverage on the project.

And via this post you can get to an article from the end of December titled "Overcoming negative stereotypes in the South Caucasus" including the summary of the project that I have quoted above. There is also a great article by the Ianyan Magazine with more background information and story telling on the project.

In the end, the countries of the Southern Caucasus - Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia - are European countries, all three members of the Council of Europe, and what is happening there is happening here in Europe. And since remote conflicts can become close conflicts as we have seen during the Georgian-Russian war in 2008, I am more than happy to see that Europeans use new media to tell positive stories trying to end these useless conflicts.

Now the question is: When will the old media learn to tell these stories, too, instead of pushing for conflict stories that dominate the daily news all over the place?


Onnik Krikorian said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this post about the project. Appreciated, and thanks to Ianyan for giving it more visibility too.

Onnik Krikorian said...

And, of course, especially to @letzi83 who sent me the link to your post. :)

ianyan said...

:) Thank you for the mention Julien, I appreciate it and great question you pose at the end.