Drawing on the Open Society Foundations’ research into the worldwide impact of new and digital media, this forum will discuss the role that these evolving forms of media can play in the development and strengthening of democratic societies.
Behrouz Afagh is head of BBC World Service's Asia Pacific Region. He edits and manages the BBC's broadcasts and multimedia services in the Azeri, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Sinhala, Tamil, Urdu, and Uzbek languages.
Afagh began working for the BBC in 1983. He studied at Tehran University and then at the University of Surrey in Britain and has lived in Britain since 1978.
Fernando Bermejo is a faculty associate at the Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where he was a faculty fellow in residence during the 2009-10 academic year. His research focuses on the evolution of the different forms of online advertising and on the process of commercialization of interactivity. As a result of his residency at Berkman, Bermejo is examining the use of communication theory and the philosophy of language to shed light upon current debates on the present state and future development of cyberspace.
Currently an associate professor of Communication at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. Fernando has also taught at IE University, University of Syracuse in Madrid, and Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca. He received his Ph.D. in Communication from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and his M.A. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Internet Audience: Constitution & Measurement (Peter Lang, 2007) and editor of On Communicating: Otherness, Meaning, and Information (Routledge, 2009).
Marius Dragomir worked for 17 years as a journalist; the first eight years for various Romanian media, and then for international media. He was a media critic with the Prague Business Journal. In 2002, Dragomir was a Senior Journalism Knight Fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Atlantic Council of the United States, where he completed a thesis on the reform of the media in post-communist Europe. He signed media columns in publications such as Czech Business Weekly and wrote for several other publications, and conducted field training for Transitions Online.
As a Knight Media Policy Fellow at New America, Tom Glaisyer coordinates the Media Policy Program at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. Glaisyer's tracking and reporting on media policy initiatives at the federal level, and innovative efforts in local communities across the country is featured in the recommendations of the Knight Commission's recently published report, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age.
Glaisyer's research pays particular attention to public media reform policies, efforts to increase independent reporting on issues of public interest, and initiatives to help citizens access and engage with high-quality information.
Glaisyer is a PhD candidate at Columbia University's School of Journalism where he has focused on the interplay between media and political processes and institutions. He holds a master's degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a bachelor's degree in Engineering and Economics from the University of Birmingham in England.
Aboubakr Jamai is the founder and editor of the Moroccan weekly magazine Le Journal Hebdomadaire. He is currently the editor of the French-language edition of the news website lakome.com. He was a visiting Scholar at the University of San Diego, Yale World Fellow in 2004, a Nieman Fellow in 2007, and a Mason Fellow at Harvard University in 2008.
Lakome editor Aboubakr Jamai attests that, even though the extent of the influence is unknown, social media sites were instrumental in fueling the Arab Spring revolutions. "We see a spike in tweets about what will happen in Tahrir Square, and then it happens in Tahrir Square. So obviously there is communication going on there," says Jamai.