From the Arab Spring to Afghanistan, the media takes center stage in Citizens Rising: Independent Media and the Spread of Democracy, a new book reflecting decades of experience at the front lines of social change, from the perspective of independent journalists and activists working to revolutionize information. This is the first book to recount the story of the media activists who helped transform contemporary history with consequences that will continue to reverberate into our future.
The shift from media controlled by a few, to media owned by all of us portends a revolution as great as that which followed the invention of the printing press,
says author David Hoffman. Hoffman is an expert on international media and co-founder of Internews, a global non-profit organization that has supported the emergence of independent news media and information technology in more than ninety countries.
From the fall of the Soviet Union to the Arab Spring, media have played a decisive role in political affairs across the globe. It is only since the rise of social media, however, that journalists, historians and policymakers have begun to recognize how media activists have been behind many of the revolutionary changes shaping our recent past. This is the first book to present a comprehensive look at the emergence of media as a primary actor, and not just an observer, of global affairs.
In these pages we will see how media have been used effectively to topple dictatorships, prevent conflict and develop civil society; how they help build a nation after a war, as in Afghanistan; or lead to genocide, as in Rwanda. Media have the power to bring about massive social change, such as improving the status of women, or act as first responders in humanitarian emergencies as in Haiti, Somalia or Darfur where information is as vital as food, water and shelter.
Today, the Internet, mobile phones and social media are transforming politics and society more profoundly and more rapidly than anyone ever could have predicted. China, with 500 million people online, is a vastly different country than it was just a decade ago. With the rise of digital technology the power of media to intervene in global affairs is in the hands of everyone, everywhere, transforming us from passive spectators to lead actors on the stage of world events. This book is the first one to examine media’s historic impact and offer a roadmap to the future.
As the founder of Internews, the largest non-governmental media development organization in the world, I had a backstage pass to many of the seminal events described in the chapters that follow. Most of the leaders and activists profiled in the book are trusted colleagues or close friends with whom I’ve worked for over three decades. Some reveal confidences never before shared. Together their stories demonstrate how the information revolution is transforming our politics and our destiny.
David Hoffman is President Emeritus and Founder of Internews Network, a global non-profit organization that fosters independent media and access to information worldwide. The organization has helped build thousands of television and radio stations in some of the most difficult environments in the world that reach hundreds of millions of people. Hoffman has written widely about media and democracy, the Internet, and the importance of supporting pluralistic, local media around the world. His articles and op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, and The San Francisco Chronicle. He has also testified before U.S. House and Senate committees on issues of press freedom and access to information.
Hoffman was project director of the internationally-acclaimed and Emmy-award winning television series Capital to Capital (1987-1990), produced in association with ABC News and Soviet State Television; he organized broadcasts of the War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, for which Internews was awarded the first European Commission’s ECHO Award in 1996. Hoffman was a founder of and serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Global Forum for Media Development, a cross-sector initiative of more than 500 leading media assistance organizations from over 100 countries. From 1980-1982, he was the editor of Evolutionary Blues, a journal of political thought on international conflict, the threat of nuclear war, and U.S.-Soviet relations. Prior to that, he was National Director of Survival Summer, the coalition of 140 national peace and environmental organizations that launched the peace movement of the 1980s. Hoffman has a BA in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University and has completed doctoral work at the University of Colorado in the Social and Intellectual History of the United States.
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