Carleton University hosts major round table on Media and Mass Atrocity
From newspapers to the newsfeed—international journalists, dignitaries and academics examine the media’s role in cases of mass atrocity
Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, in collaboration with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University, will host a major international roundtable — Media and Mass Atrocity: the Rwanda Genocide and Beyond — from Dec. 1–3, 2017, at Carleton.
As the 25th anniversary of the 1994 Rwanda genocide approaches, there is still much to learn about the nexus between mass atrocity and the media, an issue laid bare by the Rwanda tragedy. The roundtable will bring together an international network around the question of media and mass atrocity.
Members of the public are invited to join in this three-day event, to observe the proceedings, take part in question-and-answer sessions and interact with the members of the roundtable.
But participants must register in advance of the event. The full conference registration package includes a dinner and event opening ceremony on Friday, Dec. 1 (being held in the Atrium on the second floor of Richcraft Hall), as well as coffee breaks and lunches on Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3 during the roundtable, being held in the third-floor conference room of the Residence Commons building at Carleton. The registration fee is being charged on a cost-recovery basis.
Register via Eventbrite:
- $125 — institutional fee (if your registration costs are covered by your employer)
- $100 — individual registration and seniors
- $40 — student registration fee, for students currently registered in a post-secondary institution
- $10 — one day only, does not include meal packages. Registrants must indicate which day they wish to attend.
As more information about the Rwanda genocide becomes available and as the narrative of those events continues to evolve, we still have much to learn from the important case study of Rwanda about the role of media in stimulating and responding to mass atrocities.
In particular, in an era of social media saturation, near-ubiquitous mobile device penetration, and dramatic shifts in traditional news media, it is more important than ever to examine the nexus between media and mass atrocity.
Advances in information and communications technology have reshaped the media landscape, rendering mass atrocities in distant countries more immediate and harder to ignore. And yet, a cohesive international response to mass atrocities has been elusive.
Social media tools can be used to inform and engage, but also — in an echo of hate radio in Rwanda — can also be used to demonize opponents and mobilize extremism. With enhanced and relatively inexpensive communications technologies, ordinary citizens around the globe can capture live footage of human rights abuses before journalists have the chance, making social media itself a global actor, affecting the responses of national governments and international organizations to threats against peace and security and human rights.
And yet, despite the extended reach that technological advances have afforded traditional news media and social media, the media impact in mass atrocity events is still a complex subject. Specifically, we are left with many troubling questions, still unresolved despite the passage of time since Rwanda.
What role do media play in alerting the international community to looming mass atrocity? Could more informed and comprehensive coverage of mass atrocities mitigate or even halt the killing by sparking an international outcry? How do we assess the impact of hate media reporting in a killing spree? What is the role of the media in trying to encourage amelioration of the conflict or post-conflict reconciliation? What do the lessons of Rwanda mean now, in an age of communications so dramatically influenced by social media? Media and Mass Atrocity: the Rwanda Genocide and Beyond, grapples with these very questions.
Tentative roundtable agenda (subject to change):
Friday, Dec. 1
5:00–8:00 pm Atrium and Ateliers — Richcraft Hall, Carleton University
Roundtable Registration — Orientation, dinner and Opening Ceremony
Allan Thompson — Round table chair
Dean of Faculty of Public Affairs Andre Plourde — welcome from Carleton University
Keynote: Paul Watson — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author
Saturday, Dec. 2
Residence Commons building, Carleton Univ. — third floor conference room
Allan Thompson welcome, introduction of keynote speaker
Keynote: Roméo Dallaire, former commander, United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR)
9:30–10:45 1st Panel: Looking back at Rwanda: conflicting narratives
Chair — Frank Chalk (MIGS)
Linda Melvern — Investigative journalist (via Skype) — “Fake news, disinformation and the falsification of history.”
Filip Reyntjens — University of Antwerp — “The RPF’s information and communication strategy.”
11:00–12:30 2nd Panel: Hate media
Chair — Kyle Matthews (MIGS)
Frank Chalk — Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies — “Does Hate Propaganda Really Matter? Assessing Recent Research on the Case of Rwanda, 1993–1994.”
Theo Dolan — Peacetech Lab — “Online Hate Speech in South Sudan: Towards a New Methodology for Combating Hate Speech.”
Alan Davis — Institute for War and Peace Reporting (via Skype) — “Anti-Rohingya hate speech in Myanmar: how and why it happened.”
12:30–1:15 Lunch (Third floor — Residence Commons)
1:15–2:45 3rd Panel: International media coverage of genocide
Chair — Susan Harada (associate director, School of Journalism, reported from Rwanda for CBC)
Catherine Bond — World Bank — “Listening carefully and looking harder: how propaganda obscures fact.”
James Siguru — Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University — “We have failed as a continent: Covering Darfur for an African audience.”
Simon Cottle — Communications, Human Security and Atrocity in Global Context Research Group, Cardiff University — “Human Security and Communications: Ten years on from the publication of The Media and the Rwanda Genocide.”
3:00–4:30 4th Panel: Rwanda — after the genocide Rwanda
Chair — Allan Thompson (Carleton University)
Anjan Sundaram — author of Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (via Skype) — “Post-colonial journalism in Rwanda.”
Paul Rukesha — Rwanda Genocide Archive — “Digitizing the Genocide.”
Mark Frohardt — Internews — “The Role of Media in Fostering a Culture of Critical Engagement in the Context of Mass Atrocity.”
4:30–5:45 5th Panel: Journalism and Mass Atrocity
Chair — Jeff Sallot (reported from Rwanda for the Globe and Mail)
Martha Steffens — School of Journalism, University of Missouri — “Filling the gaps in foreign coverage.”
Lauren Kogen — Department of Media Studies & Production, Temple University (via Skype) — “News you can use or news that moves? Journalists’ rationales for coverage of distant suffering.”
Paul Watson — Freelance journalist — “Where War Lives: Redux.”
Sunday, Dec. 3
Residence Commons building, Carleton Univ. — third floor conference room
8:30–10:00 6th panel — Social media — the new media actor
Chair — Stephanie MacLellan — Centre for International Governance Innovation
Geoffrey York — Globe and Mail, Africa correspondent — “Social Media in Africa.”
Nick Monaco — Digital Intelligence Lab — “Computational Propaganda: Where Digital Democracy Meets Automated Autocracy.”
Mette Mortensen — University of Copenhagen, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication (via Skype) — “Witnessing Atrocity: Conflict imagery on social media.”
Nadia Hai — School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University — “The Caliphate’s imagined Soldiers: Analysing the promotion lone wolf attacks in Rumiyah magazine.”
Yannick Veilleux-Lepage — University of St Andrews — “A Typology of Islamic State’s Social Media Distribution Network.”
10:15–11:45 7th panel: Echoes of Rwanda
Chair — Kyle Matthews — MIGS
Michael Petrou — 2017 Nieman fellow, Harvard University — “More Important than Jihad of the Sword”: Islamic State’s Media Strategy and the Yazidi Genocide.”
Joachim Savelsberg — Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota — “Journalism on Darfur between social fields: global and national forces.”
Michelle Betz — Betz Media Consulting — “Commitment amid conflict: The experience of Central African Republic journalists covering their country’s war.”
11:45–12:15 LUNCH — (Third floor — Residence Commons)
12:15–1:30 8th panel: Prevention
Chair — Marie Lamensch — MIGS
Steven Livingston — George Washington University — “Genocide Prevention and Advanced Digital Technology.”
David Smith — Okapi Consulting — “Media as a tool in countering violent extremism: case study The Lake Chad Basin & Boko Haram.”
Bert Ingelaere — University of Antwerp — “Radio and Rwandan rebels (FDLR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”
Rafal Rohozinski, John de Boer — SecDev Group — “Violent Extremist Narratives and Social Media: the case of Bangladesh.”
1:30–2:30 Closing Plenary — Chair — Allan Thompson