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Ethnography of diaspora journalism

Patricia Cruz

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The study “Examining Diaspora Journalists’ Digital Networks and Role Perceptions: A Case Study of Syrian Post-Conflict Advocacy Journalism” by Rana Arafat from City University of London sought to understand how diaspora journalists maintain their connections to the homeland and how they advocate for human rights and political reforms from afar. 

Previous research on diaspora journalism has mainly focused on the level of professionalism in the journalists’ online media, promotion and advocacy through conflict reporting, and the threats, physical and digital, that influence the practices.

The study at hand employed digital ethnography of two digital diasporic networks, Syrian Journalists’ Association (SJA), with 500 members and 12,743 followers, and Syrian Female Journalists’ Network (SFJN), with 150 members and 7,331 followers, in order to understand advocacy content, practices, and dynamics of interaction. The networks were created by exiled journalists.

In addition to studying the interactions in Facebook, the study had a second step where 12 in-depth interviews were conducted on Syrian diaspora editors and journalists, whose work involved opposition news. The purpose was to gauge how the interviewees perceived the changing nature of their roles and the various forces influencing their efforts.

The digital networks do not serve the purpose of generating news content for the general public. Rather, they serve as gateways for the diaspora journalists to fulfill several functions. The observation revealed seven functions, ranging from promoting homeland-related advocacy and connecting the struggle to international issues to informing journalists about professional opportunities.

Syrian Journalists’ Association was more focused on the larger Syrian community including Syrian Kurdish Journalists’ Union, and assuring access for both diaspora journalists and local Syrians to the forums. Syrian Female Journalists’ Network on the other hand, involved non-Syrian actors in its work under the umbrella of the larger feminist movement in the Middle East.

Both of the forums presented the Syrian government and state-controlled media as the “opponent”, but also strongly emphasized the role of civil society organizations. , The SJFN, despite the large role of the diaspora in Turkey, opposed Turkish intervention in the area.

To link the cause to international movements, the networks engaged in hashtag activism. Additionally, the hashtags helped to organize the posts in the websites. This was combined with offline efforts to join up with the international community to take action. 

Of the journalists’ perceptions, the study found out that all the participants refused to categorize the work they do as “activism”, because the term has loaded connotations in Syria as many armed terrorists and fighters there call themselves activists. Rather, they framed their work as “advocacy” within the framework of constructive journalism. 

There were four narratives arising from the interviews of the first group: a) challenging the regime’s authoritative voice, b) truth-telling and avoiding the state-like propaganda , c) promoting opposition without being identified with any oppositional group, and d) practicing public-service advocacy while avoiding political activism and mobilization journalism.

The second group running the digitalized networks focused on two narratives:  a) mobilizing for a social change, and b) lobbying the regime and opposition authorities to defend journalists. Two among this group perceived their work as involving the empowerment of democracy and press freedom, as well as defense of human rights of journalists and human rights people. 

As for the influences the journalists encountered, organizational influences were present in the diasporic newsrooms itself, as the journalists clearly had political backgrounds at odds with the regime and this influenced the coverage despite the adoption of more international standards. The author sees a danger that if the political leanings are one-sided, the diaspora journalism becomes a mere mirror image of the state news in one-sidedness. 

Procedural influences involve the constraints for reporting transnationally. Information verification is difficult as is access to sources. This is particularly so in Syria, where all non-state media is considered “fabrication” and “against the state”, and local sources understandably fear talking to opposition journalists. The diaspora journalists depend mainly on local journalists who at times may be too shell-shocked by the events to be able to report.

Political influences involve the surveillance and transnational repression faced by the journalists. Sometimes host states such as Turkey impose censorship on certain topics. They find it hard to criticize the Turkish government without the fear of being shut out or their headquarters in Gaziantep shut down.

The author states that the study contributes to the ongoing discussion in three ways: it proposes that there are advocacy-based functions in the journalists’ networks that go beyond the normal functions.

 Second, hybridity is rethought in regards to journalistic role perceptions, by proposing two unique approaches to serving democracy in exile. The journalists do not perceive a conflict in their roles as advocates and journalists, and do not believe that they risk the quality of their media work.

Third, for the traditional hierarchies of influence, this paper adds and connects a new set of local and transnational sets of influence that shape the diasporic journalism practice. There are specific constraints on performing advocacy and storytelling in diaspora. 

The author suggests that future research should focus on cross-country comparisons between different groups of exiled journalists. 

The study “Examining Diaspora Journalists’ Digital Networks and Role Perceptions: A Case Study of Syrian Post-Conflict Advocacy Journalism” by Rana Arafat is in Journalism Studies. (free abstract). 

Picture: Untitled by aladdin hammami.

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Journalism

The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout

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In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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Journalism

How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout

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Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.

Exercise

Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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Journalism

10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout

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Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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