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  • First there was the Ghaddafi "Amazonian Guard" or "Lady Guard":

Gaddafi Lady Guard

"Women should be trained for combat, so that they do not become easy prey for their enemies." -Ghadaffi

  • Then there were the Egyptian martial-arts trained "Lady Guards" created by an Egyptian security company to help wealthy women feel more comfortable while being guarded:

Egyptian Lady Guard

  • And, there were reports about female boxing champions being considered for future Olympics:

Afghanistan female boxer

  • And now we see the rise of Iranian female "ninjas":

Iranian female ninja


A few months ago, I saw the recruitment video on BBC that was played on Iranian television to recruit female warriors.  The video is a bit humorous to watch, but the message remains the same: Middle Eastern women are gaining momentum.  Perhaps one can argue that the original intent of the male leadership was to create an infantry of women who could be sacraficed first for a given cause, but empowering Arab women to such a degree will likely be as significant as giving American women riveting jobs during WWII.

Unfortunately, Reuters decided to add their own spin to this evolution.  Instead of reporting the facts of this bizarre campaign, mass media--Reuters in this case--decided to spin it to be as eye-popping and news-worthy as they could make it by labeling them as "terrorists" to perhaps inspire shock and awe.  Such contentious language should have been more carefully considered before use.  And yet, many wonder why mass media isn't generally as trusted these days?  Western mass-media is a public diplomacy ambassador in it's own way.  Their words and actions can have ramifications for other journalists as well as other nations.


Iran suspends Reuters news bureau 'indefinitely' -AFP, 2 Apr 2012

TEHRAN — The Tehran bureau of international news agency Reuters has been "suspended indefinitely" because of a report it issued mischaracterising Iranian female ninjas as "terrorists," authorities said on Monday.

The head of the department in the culture and Islamic guidance ministry that monitors foreign media in Iran, Mohammad Javad Aghajari, announced the decision in a statement published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

"The decision was taken following the production of a video clip by this news agency's video department branding some Iranian female athletes who practice ninjutsu as terrorists," he was quoted as saying.

The report referred to was sent to Reuters clients in early February and showed female ninjas training in the city of Karaj, northwest of Tehran.

Reuters said last week the report went out with the headline "Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran's assassins" but, after complaints were received from Iran, it was changed to "Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran".

Iran's state-funded Press TV reported that several female ninjas in the story planned to sue Reuters for defamation.

In a report on Monday, Press TV said Reuters had failed to apologise for accusing the female ninjutsu practitioners of being "undercover assassins in the service of the Islamic Republic."

Aghajari, in his comments published by IRNA, said the Reuters report "left a very negative image" by insinuating that "the teaching of assassination and terrorism (occurs) in Iran."

He said the ninja report showed "a desire within this news agency to manipulate public opinion."

Aghajari said the Reuters bureau was suspended "until the complete review of the issue."

The Iranian authorities routinely monitor and restrict the activities of foreign journalists.

Their sensitivity over the way Iran is portrayed in Western media has become more acute in recent years, since the coverage of mass protests in 2009 over a disputed re-election win by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Newly released IREX audience research shows that while Iraqis continue to rely on television as their primary source for news and information, social media and mobile devices play an important role in the consumption and distribution of news and information in Iraq. The Iraq Audience Measurement Survey, a periodic study of media usage in Iraq, was commissioned by IREX as part of the Media and Technology for Community Development program.  D3 Systems of Vienna, Virginia conducted the survey.

The 2011 edition of the study builds on the 2010 wave of audience research released by IREX but now includes a new section focusing specifically on how Iraqi youth consume and share information. Interestingly, nearly half of Iraqis surveyed cited “Friends and Family” as a source of news. Reliance on social sources of information and overall low levels of trust in media outlets indicate that Iraqi media consumers, while extremely interested in news, remain skeptical of national and local media.

The study found that Internet usage in Iraq is overwhelming social, especially among younger users. Of the top five reported online activities, four involve social networking or personal communication while work related tasks, commerce, and research rank significantly lower. Iraqi youth who use new media to access news are just as likely as the rest of the population to use traditional media. Youth are actually more likely than the general population read newspapers and magazines for news.  

D3 and IREX presented the survey results to over 100 representatives from news outlets from across the country at a recent conference in Erbil, Iraq. Roundtables and discussions with media managers, led by D3 Systems’ Robert Johnston, followed to assist media outlets in interpreting the data and using the results to better serve their audiences.

The study is part of IREX’s ongoing efforts to support the development of a sustainable and professional media sector in Iraq and is funded by a grant to IREX from the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL).

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2012, journalism across fronteras, is a web community for Latino student journalists, a two-way bridge connecting the classroom and the newsroom.

I love that Borderzine focuses on the multimedia aspect of allowing those who don't live in the border region to experience the visual textures and colors of everything that people do in their daily lives via a multimedia platform.  Not everyone may be able to travel to where I live (San Diego-Tijuana border area), but anyone can appreciate the photos and videos produced by these really talented young Mexican-American journalists.

Columbia Journalism Review


"Awareness of Borderzine continues to grow with this story in Columbia Journalism Review about the five-year-old multimedia website that publishes stories about borders and assists Latino college journalists in honing their multimedia skills and landing internships and jobs in 21st century news media. Please read the well-reported story and pass it on along to friends and others who share the vision of a future where the nation’s newsrooms adequately reflect the dynamic demographic diversity of our country and the world." (Article via Zita Arocha, Borderzine, " featured in Columbia Journalism Review", March 22, 2012).

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