Thursday, July 29, 2010

Defending their History

People keep pointing at them, staring at them, posing for photos with them, talking about them & taking them for granted. But, who are they & what’s their story?

Photo I:

Michal Zdansky (left), a 36 years old 1st lieutenant, who’s been in the castle service for 2 years was the first who spoke to us about his experience in this job. He gave us an insight of how things go in the castle with the guards; explaining to us that one guard has a 3 hours shift per day; 1 hour by each gate. And when asked about why he does what he’s doing, this is what he had to say “money & patriotism”.

His fellow colleague Lucas Osladil (right), is a 27 years old castle guard who’s been in this post for 7 years now; he does like his job; & when asked about it; he pointed at his chest; having Zdansky translating to us what he said: “heart”.

Photo II:

Number 54 (left): that was the name of the police man whom we’ve talked to in the castle yard, in front of the Presidential office, where he’s been working in for 5 years. When we asked for his name, he said it was a secret & that policemen were identified only by their badge numbers; his was 54.

On his left was Jiri (Czech name for George), a 41 years old castle guard who’s been working there for 6 years was the only one who told us he did this job for the money. He couldn’t tell us about how much that “money” was, but we were able to find out some further details later on.

Photos III, IV, & V:

Petr Syhora, the 23 years old student on the left side of the picture has been working in the army since he was 19. Besides that job, he studies at the Faculty of Physical Education.

His shift-partner (ride side guard) Tomas Kalliel is a 26 years old father of 2 children.
And both Petr & Tomas were finishing their 5-to-6pm shift by the moment.

Photo VI:

Milos Kafka, a 21 years old soldier was kind enough to portray for us an overall picture of how things work there. He told us the following:
The soldiers in the castle are the ‘elite’ part of the army; that’s why many of them chose that job over the military army. And he explained how the Ministry of Defense is divided into an Army department & the Castle Guard one.
On how long they work as castle guards; he said it’s around 10 years; after which they give up their military positions for civil ones. As former militaries, they receive a monthly salary of 4, 000 Kc.
As for why they quit after around 10 years, Milos said it’s mainly because of the knee problems they start suffering from because of the nature of their position. But what keeps them working as guards, according to Kafka is the prestige & the symbolic meaning of guarding the castle & the Czech history!
Besides the prestige, their working conditions are quite good, as they only work for 14 days/a month, with 14 days off, which allows them to have a family life, & to continue with their studies & other jobs.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Photo Esaay : Heat Wave

By the River, On the Bridge

By Emilia, Tricia and Puja

Tourists visit the Czech Republic’s beautiful capital from all over the world in July. Wise tourists spend much of their time near the Vltava River and the Charles Bridge. The bridge offers a spectacular view of Prague’s waterways, and the river offers a number of ways to relax and cool down.

At Kampe Park next to the Vltava River some students practice
pantomime. Kate Uotozkova, 20, dances in the middle. Andrew Holba, 21
(in the green shirt), and Jerry Jole, 24, juggle while Vaclav Pundalo,
24, plays guitar in the background. They practice in Prague and
perform on the Charles Bridge, constructed in 1357, during the day,
but they also perform in France, where they feel street art is taken
more seriously.

Michael Bernatik, a 28-year-old Czech from the city of Kromeriz, came
to Prague on holiday with his girlfriend, Lucia Kourelova,
27, and her dog, Arvika. Here they walk on the banks of the Vltava
river, the longest in the Czech Republic and the subject of many
musical compositions, where Arvika seems to be looking for some fish.

Archibald is an artist who specializes in line and charcoal
drawings. Here he draws three girls who pose for him on the bridge. It takes about three minutes to finish a portrait.

Maya, 27, and her mom Lydia, 55, perform folk and
classical music almost every day on the Charles Bridge, beside many
other artists who perform adjacent to the 30 statues on the bridge. Many stop to listen, but not all listeners pay.

Two sailors, Lassi, 36, and Mayo, 29, help tourists onto a
tour boat. The tour leaves every 10 minutes from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
and it costs 290 Krona. The name of the tour company is Prazske
Benatky. Many other companies operate on the river, among them one
which offers a jazz performance. Popular stops on the tour are Prague
castle, the Strahov Monastry, St. Nicholas Church and the Petrin

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Challenges of Changing Media Landscape: Marius Dragomir, Policy reports Editor, Open Society Foundation

Dragomir’s talk on Thursday revolved around the following:

· Changes in the way journalism is produced and distributed

· The need for “legacy” journalism to adapt to new platforms or die

· The crisis of public sector broadcasting

· New patterns of news packaging brought on by the Internet

· Increased need for new technical skills for journalists

· Over regulation and over control of news

· The collapse of the traditional business model

· Dismay at the direction in which quality journalism was going.

His thoughts were distilled from the report “Mapping Digital Media” ( a global project covering 60 countries, undertaken by the Open Society Foundation ( and to be released next summer. The project looks at the state of journalism across Europe, Africa, Latin America, India, Japan and the Middle East to decipher how traditional journalism has responded to the changes brought about by the digital media.

Within the above broad parameters the report finds that

· There is a major refocusing of consumption of news from traditional to digital media

· Public sector broadcasting is languishing (in Macedonia when the government made it optional to pay for such broadcasting, collections fell from 83 percent to 0.01 percent). This could be because of the politicization of stations (eg. in appointment of key personnel) and the following loss of credibility leading to a loss of almost 90 percent market share

· Within society digital media is giving rise to digital activism (eg the Twitter Revolution in Iran)

· There is increase in the amount of available information and the speed with which sources of information can be reached although on the downside this is leading to the death of investigative reporting and giving a fillip to recycling and repackaging of verified and unverified information

· For a lot of the younger generation the main source of information and news is often in the form of non-serious, colourful websites like where news is a hotch potch of other content

· Only one or two established media outlets feature in the list of top 10 news websites, where social networks are most visible

· Changing technology affects journalists in myriad ways. For example the allocation of spectrum permits the number of channels to increase exponentially and one broadcaster might get more frequency to keep new players out

· There is growing ownership of telecom companies of media outlets, especially in the US and Europe which is not good.

· There are new gate keepers in the digital age who package and relay content to the viewer’s home. This includes the producers of Electronic Programming Guides who can put down or yank off the list a particular programme

· There is growing legislation regarding who owns content on the Internet. (In Romania for example Internet bloggers deemed offensive are punished by asking the ISP to cut off their connection)

For more information e mail Dragomir at:

Nathaniel Carden

Puja Awasthi

Ethics blog post group

Rehman, Anil, Emilia & Mariam:

Your task is to take the ethics scenarios we worked on as a class this morning. Select one that was not discussed as a class. List your considerations as a list of questions. Beneath your list of considerations, spend a paragraph or two talking about what action you would take.

Your deadline: Friday by 5 p.m.

A code of ethics to consider

A code of media ethics:

1. Write the facts as you see them.
2. A story without a source is a source of trouble.
3. A source is not a source when the story is based on rumour.
4. When in doubt, leave it out.
5. Prejudge no one.
6. Be objective.
7. Divorce comment from news and label each as such.
8. Commentators are not exempt from the duty to be accurate.
9. Never incite racial or religious division.
10. Enlighten, lest we fail to understand one another.

From the International Media Council

Media ethics websites + other resources

A handful of sites that I find useful.

The Society of Professional Journalists, a broad-based American organization of journalism with a website full of helpful information.

The European Journalism Centre, a Netherlands-based organization focussed on rights, issues and resources for European journalists.

Global Post, international news for a digital age.

The Hub, the world's first participatory media site for human rights.

A group dedicated to anti-censorship software worldwide.

Global Voices, a site for bloggers around the world, citizen media.

Center for International Media Ethics, a site created by former EJI participants.

A site that links to 320 codes of ethics from journalism outlets around the world.

A blog from the International Media Council, an international group of journalists and opinion makers concerned about international media.

International Center for Journalists, a website of resources and a list of trainings and workshops for young journalists.