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27.08.2014 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Providing voice to the voiceless, an inclusive media for all

Bali, 27 August 2014. How can media empower the communities who are left behind? Development practitioners around the world have long been puzzled by this. While the increasing use of internet and mobile devices creates new opportunities for global citizens, there are many “isolated pockets” in different parts of the world that are disconnected from the mainstream media.

Moderated by Mr. Charaf Ahmimed, Programme Specialist at UNESCO Jakarta Office, the second parallel session of the Global Media Forum explored this issue in a diverse panel discussion featuring speakers from Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mongolia and Timor-Leste.

Many communities are marginalized due to geographical reasons. Different ethnic, social and complex political backgrounds make the situation even more complicated. Even within a well connected society marginalized communities still exist, such as people with disabilities. The panelists shared specific case studies from their countries and also analyzed the overall landscape to explore ways to make media more inclusive for marginalized people across the world.

Mr. Harry Surjadi, an expert on Environmental Journalism and Communication in Indonesia, kicked off the discussion by sharing his experience of developing a mobile phone citizen journalism model that became the largest citizen journalism network in Indonesia.

He trained community members in Kalimantan on how to send news to TV using SMS, which enabled them to fight for their rights on local resources and also allowed them to push the local government about pressing issues like reconstruction of broken roads. From his more than 20 years of experience he emphasized on people’s involvement in the media, saying that they “should have ownership of communication channels.”

Community radios can act as a bridge between local decision-makers and local community groups, explained Ms. Naranjargal Khaskuu, Chairperson of Globe International, Mongolia.

However, the concept of “community radio” is comparatively new in Mongolia and challenges persist, such as a lack of regulations to differentiate community radio from public media. She pointed out that despite having good laws, the implementation is questionable as in Mongolia not everyone understands the importance of community media.

The discussion took an interesting turn when Ms. Ana Catalina Montenegro, Coordinator at the Onda-UNED, Costa Rica strongly advocated for democratization of the media landscape. According to Ms. Montenegro, 60% of the TV channels in Costa Rica are owned by one company and 80% of the information published in media is sourced from the capital city, thereby reflecting the interests of only a few.

Alternatively in Argentina, a company can own a maximum of 10 licenses. She believes as democracy is an important factor in freedom of expression, the more players participate actively in the field, the harder it becomes to control and manipulate the content.

On the other hand, Mr. Francisco da Silva Gary, Director of Timor-Leste Media Development Centre shared that Timor-Leste does not have a media law yet. However, a new law is being considered in Parliament and next month policymakers will discuss it with civil society and journalists.

All the panelists agree that while providing media tools to the community is an important step, there is no alternative to training them in effectively utilizing them. These days media users are also producers and if we want to build an inclusive media, we must find ways to reach the unreached.

For more information about the Global Media Forum, visit the website at bali-gmf.com or contact Mr Charaf Ahmimed, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO Jakarta Office at c.ahmimed(at)unesco.org

Written by – Anjali Sarker

Please also visit www.bali-gmf.com

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