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CyberChaikhana

CyberChaikhana’s media chapter: “When the Pen Runs Dry”
Written by , Thursday, 29 Oct, 2009 – 10:00 | No Comment
Image by Flickr user Jason Tavares (CC-usage).

Image by Flickr user Jason Tavares (CC-usage).

Here’s the latest chapter rough draft for the ongoing CyberChaikhana project.  It focuses on the status of media in general and journalism in particular in the region.  I think it actually came out rather well… ;)

(Warning: some of the formatting with the hyperlinks may get a little wacky…)

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Central Asia needs more bloggers: write for neweurasia!
Written by , Monday, 17 Aug, 2009 – 9:00 | 7 Comments

Central Asia is confronted by monster challenges and simmering crises, but it also has rambunctious and lively societies brimming with potential.  Since our start in 2005, neweurasia‘s bloggers have been bearing witness to the region’s struggles with intelligence, insight, and healthy doses of sarcasm.

We are looking for bright young minds (or even old cynical ones) to write commentary and analysis, report breaking news, make webcasts, and post photo-essays. We offer financial compensation on a pay-per-post basis, as well as on a formula basis for special coverage (“blogging assignments”).

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Who Decides the Truth: The Unreality of Journalism, Part 3
Written by , Friday, 17 Jul, 2009 – 9:00 | 4 Comments
In Uzbekistan, even the very notion of truth is political.  Image by Flickr user julianrod (CC-usage).

What is a journalist to believe? Image by Flickr user julianrod (CC-usage).

Editor’s note: neweurasia’s Musafirbek Ozod goes beyond statistics and formal reports to write about what it’s actually like to live and work as a journalist in Uzbekistan. This is the third part of a series, and part of the ongoing CyberChaikhana project.

Here the young blogger reflects upon his own reasons for becoming a journalist.  Recalling a past conversation with an independent editor, he must confront a difficult reality: in Uzbekistan, even the very notion of truth is political, and its pursuit comes at a high price.

If the situation for young journalists in Uzbekistan is so terrible, then why did I become one?  Like my peers, I originally had very naive and idealistic motivations.

Yet, I had never before confronted myself with the question: just what is Truth in Uzbekistan — and what does it take to be a journalist truly seeking it?  But then a few years ago, while interviewing for a job at an independent news agency, I had a conversation that exploded my vague preconceptions.

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Our Youth Must Be Happier Than Us: The Unreality of Journalism, Part 2
Written by , Wednesday, 15 Jul, 2009 – 9:00 | 6 Comments
Young girl in a school in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  Learn more @ OneMinutesJr.  Image by Flickr user chrisschuep (CC-usage).

Uzbekistan's next generation in a Tashkent school. Learn more about the image by Flickr user chrisschuep (CC-usage) @ OneMinutesJr.org.

Editor’s note: neweurasia’s Musafirbek Ozod goes beyond statistics and formal reports to write about what it’s actually like to live and work as a journalist in Uzbekistan. This is the second part of a series, and part of the ongoing CyberChaikhana project.

Here Musafirbek explores the obstacles with which young journalists are faced in Uzbekistan’s journalism industry.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place, they find themselves the victims of a self-perpetuating system hellbent on undermining not only their careers, but their very ideals.

Our youth should be much stronger, better educated, wiser and, of course, happier than us.

This is a frequent refrain from Uzbekistan’s president, one which, no doubt, he will say for long into the future.  But his words ring hollow when we look deeper into the unhappy situation of Uzbek journalism’s next generation.

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Hell Hides Behind Paradise: The Unreality of Journalism, Part 1
Written by , Friday, 3 Jul, 2009 – 16:12 | 8 Comments
Reading the Newspaper (1938), N. Karaxan (1900-1970), Savitsky Art Museum, Nukus, Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, 19 November 2008.  Image courtesy of Flickr.

Reading the Newspaper (1938), N. Karaxan (1900-1970), Savitsky Art Museum, Nukus, Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, 19 November 2008. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Editor’s note: neweurasia’s Musafirbek Ozod goes beyond statistics and formal reports to write about what it’s actually like to live and work as a journalist in Uzbekistan. This is the first part of a series, and part of the ongoing CyberChaikhana project.

A few days ago, Chris Schwartz, one of neweurasia‘s managing editors, asked me to write about the disconnect between what the news reports about Uzbekistan and what life is actually like there for journalists. I started quoting reports by international organizations but he immediately stopped me.

“No, don’t think like a journalist this time; think like a blogger,” he said.  “Write from life, not statistics.”

As you can imagine, breaking out from the dry officialdom of journalism and speaking with one’s own inner voice is a challenge, but “writing from life” is what neweurasia is about.  So, here goes…

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CyberChaikhana updates
Written by , Thursday, 14 May, 2009 – 12:45 | 2 Comments

neweurasia‘s book project CyberChaikhana: Digital Conversations from Central Asia, is going forward at full steam.  Check out some of the chapter rough drafts and various ruminations.

The crowdsourcing portion of the CyberChaikhana blog’s run is complete.  We are currently mulling over options for its future.  If you have any ideas, e-mail them to schwartz [at] neweurasia [dot] net.

Audience and methodology
Written by , Thursday, 14 May, 2009 – 11:37 | No Comment
Photo © Life Picture Collection, 1952

Photo © Life Picture Collection, 1952

A big question every author or editor must face is: who’s our audience? As a network operating in seven languages and bridging two worlds, neweurasia has long struggled with this problem.  Being a blogging platform further stirs the pot.

On the one hand, the most valuable aspect of blogging is its ability to cultivate a plurality of opinion in countries dominated by restrictive state and cultural media practices.  Indeed, not only does the informal style and quick response time of bloggers present a dramatic opportunity to increase the circulation of alternative information, but beyond this, blogs can provide an interactive conduit to the outside world for freethinkers.

On the other hand (and simultaneously), blogging can also open a window into cultures for Westerners and other outsiders who are interested in breaking down the barriers too often erected between societies.  It is with this in mind that neweurasia strives to connect young bloggers from within and without Central Asia of all backgrounds to work together in wedging open the channels of communication between “developed” and “developing”, “Western” and “post-Soviet”, and expanding what it means to be informed.

Consequently, neweurasia has a rather broad dual audience: native Central Asians, be they currently in the region or dispersed around the globe, and non-natives interested in the region for one reason or another. But what about a book like CyberChaikhana?

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Rough draft: Tajikistan, “Central Asian Sisyphus”
Written by , Wednesday, 13 May, 2009 – 10:18 | One Comment

What follows is the rough draft for the Tajikistan chapter.  It is focused on the privations and struggles of the nation.  What’s needed are more examples of the tiny beauties in Tajikistan life, as opposed to the gruelling brutalities.  Please feel free to leave comments or e-mail your thoughts. Read the full story »

In Den Haag
Written by , Saturday, 2 May, 2009 – 12:51 | No Comment

Quick update: I’m still alive! I’m in Den Haag working on the book and checking out the city sights. My internet is very spotty, which doesn’t help, but I’m getting by. More to come…

“Leaving on a jet plane…”
Written by , Sunday, 19 Apr, 2009 – 20:36 | No Comment

…so goes the song. Next Friday, April 24th, is the big day: ready or not, Europe, here I come!

I’ve been extremely busy preparing for my move to Europe.  As you can see by the photo, dismantling my life in Philadelphia has been a process not too dissimilar from the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompei (and don’t even get me started about all the paperwork I’ve had to complete on this side of the Atlantic).  The plan is for the book to be completed once I’m in the Netherlands with Ben; will keep you all posted.

Meanwhile, barcamp Central Asia 2009 has been a resounding success.  Check out our round-up on the event (ENG).

“Sons of my ancient mother, you riders of the tides, / How often have you sailed in my dreams.  And now you come in my awakening, which is my deeper dream. / Ready am I to go, and my eagerness with sails full set awaits the wind.”  — Khalil Gibran, The Prophet