Debating The Global Media—In Kazakhstan

Astana, Kazakhstan: Most people wouldn’t bother going half way around the world for their fifteen seconds of fame.  Ok, so maybe there was little fame to be found but, it was still worthwhile to spend two days flying back and forth to attend the two-day annual Eurasian Media Forum in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian nation that is actually the 9th largest country in the world, with ultra wealthy oil and gas fields. 

It was also one of the few countries in the world that gave up its nuclear weapons. South Africa is another one. 

Kazakhstan flickered briefly in our popular culture when the film Borat made fun of the place—it was shot in Romania, not there—and more recently, figured in the investigation into the terrifying actions of the Tsarnaev ‘Bomb Brothers’ in Boston responsible for doing so much vicious damage at the Marathon. It was reported that they had also lived here although local media disputes it. (Two Kazakh kids are said to be in jail now in the US for visa violations although it’s not clear how or if they are linked.)

The forum here deals with political and media issues and attracts top journalists and policymakers to hold forth on panels. I was on one with none other than Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, "Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>a few years back. 

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had links with U.S. intelligence agencies through a very long list of connections.

"Times New Roman";color:#181818″>Izvestia 

Arial;color:#181818″>This issue was not discussed at this year’s Media Forum but there were allegations that the US government does not just fight terrorism but backs terrorists like some of the groups that fought in Libya and are fighting in Syria.Nazarbayev, the daughter of the country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, closed the llth session of the forum held now in a brand new and fancy media center in the country’s recently built capital Astana, with an appeal for more media literacy education. 



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color:#343434;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>“We have seen evolving amid a global media revolution,” she said. 

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“We see that in the past 10 to 15 years alongside the development of satellite and cable television, wider use of the Internet, smartphones, tablet computers and other technical novelties media started playing a much more substantial role in the life of people and the society, compared with how it was, for instance, 10 years ago. 

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“The media revolution and new technologies have changed our world beyond recognition. The changes that took place literally before our eyes never fail to amaze us. 

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“Among certain groups of the audience this causes some kind of exhilaration, euphoria and heightened expectations that new technologies, per se, will solve all life problems. However, the good and the bad go hand in hand. Sometimes distinguishing one from the other is very difficult. 

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color:#343434;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Discussions like these are important. It is significant that this one was organized with the support of a government  not known as supporter of a free press, and drew delegates and speakers from all over the world. 

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color:#343434;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>I found parts of it intellectually stimulating and consistent with the work I and our colleagues arr still doing with the newly relaunched mediachannel.org that tries to encourage this type of discussion online. The fact that I was invited is also a sign of the regard in which Mediachannel is held