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24 Apr 2008 - 28 Dec 2011
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Why media matters
We live in an ever more complex global society, on a planet where more than 2 billion people try to survive on less than $2 a day. Many people in developing countries are confronted with massive, desperately difficult challenges: hunger, HIV and AIDS, population growth, climate change, war and the daily struggle of poverty.
Media matters because it underpins how societies respond to the problems they face. This makes media not only relevant to the most urgent problems of poverty and marginalisation - it makes it critical to solutions designed to address them.
It is not clear to most people, including most people working for development agencies, why we should be concerned about media and communication in this context.
To the extent that the media is considered important, it is its ability to draw public attention - especially in rich countries - to the plight of people living in poverty that is considered significant.
Sometimes the media is also considered important because it can provide a more rounded and positive insight into the realities of life in developing countries and can counter stereotypes.
More than a source of information on poverty
We argue that media matters more than as a source of information on poverty. It matters too because it is a critical part of strategies designed to address poverty.
We argue that media matters more than as a source of information on poverty. It matters too because it is a critical part of strategies designed to address poverty.
There is one very simple reason for this, and several less simple reasons.
The simple reason is that humans are uniquely successful as a species because they are uniquely able to communicate with each other. This capacity underpins all development in all of history.
The media, and increasingly new technologies, is increasingly how humans communicate with each other.
How well we communicate with each other has a good deal to do with how successful we're likely to be in confronting the massive problems we face.
Making informed choices
Media enables people to access information on issues that shape their lives, without which they cannot make choices.
  • Media enables people to hold their governments to account and provides a critical check on government corruption
  • Media and communication enables people and communities to understand, debate and reach decisions on the issues that confront them
  • Media enables people to understand the risks they face, such as from HIV and AIDS, and the steps they can take to protect themselves
  • Media and communication can be immense and powerful instruments for change and empowerment in society
  • Media can be an important part of the solution to development challenges. But they can also be a part of the problem
  • Media can be used as instruments of oppression, manipulation and hate
Truth can be distorted as well as illuminated, malpractice hidden as well as revealed.
The character of a country's media tends to determine the character of a country's democracy and society. It underpins how people learn, understand and shape change.
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