Changing Media, Changing Societies

Manila Bulletin, July 19, 2008 | Go to article overview

Changing Media, Changing Societies


Eight years had passed since the MDG launch but there is little awareness of its impact and its implications. This is an admission that media and communication has failed in building awareness on key issues -- that the MDGs are basic human rights and a means of empowering the poor. And that if the poor are empowered, they will demand their rights. Case studies on social change in several countries show how grassroots- initiated movements have resulted in revolutionary changes. Today, the media can support legislation, monitor performance, and make governments accountable. They can fill information gaps in the provision of services, highlight best practices, encourage the collective partnership among government, NGOs and other sectors, provide independent assessment and feedback, and supplement government information.

But these have to be packaged in a good human interest story, compelling and moving, so that as Vice President Noli de Castro emphasized in his opening day keynote address, it "will keep shaking societies and government out of complacency, remind them that the only way to achieve the MDGs is through our collective sense of compassion and generosity." Former President Fidel V. Ramos, keynote speaker on the second day, reminded us of the goals of sustainable development -- to be caring and sharing. But we must now be more "daring" and imaginative in our media strategies if we have to make a difference, he noted, citing current realities -- statistics on access to primary schooling, burgeoning population and the food crisis to show the magnitude of our communication task.

The reality today is that rising oil and food prices may force millions of people back to hunger. The implications of commercialization of agriculture -- transforming lands into factories or using them for biofuels must be translated into advocacy stories.

Disturbing trends such as growing inequality and where the media is shown to support elite interest groups must be examined. …

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