MEDIAFORUM Archive 1994

Africa: The Marginalisation by the International Media
by Michael Traber (4/1994)


Somalia, South Africa, Rwanda... so many front-page headlines, so much television news coverage over the last few months. So much so that one is tempted to declare 1994 the 'Year of Africa'. But which Africa do we mean? What image of Africa have the news media been communicating to us? And why at this particular time have the media of the North devoted so much coverage and so many pages of reports to Africa? Could this be a sudden resurgence of a spirit of solidarity, or a somewhat voyeuristic view of a continent overwhelmed by all the ills of the world? Or could it simply be straight competition between the media, a copy-cat reaction to TV coverage by the press, or a response to public demand to see in action 'their' Blue Berets, 'their' soldiers, 'their' compatriots working in humanitarian organisations? In short, the self-regarding white man, making comparisons and congratulating himself on his strength and generosity? It is an accepted fact that Africa has always been marginalised by the international media, increasingly so since the end of the Cold War. But the access of Africa itself to the broader communications landscape seems increasingly threatened and undermined by the current upheavals in the treatment of information and the expectations of the public. However, these transformations may stimulate a revival of interest in Africa on the part of the international media and the public (via openness to other cultures, art, music and dance, fear of immigration etc.). New paths of opportunity could also be created for African media and journalists.

Afrique: L'Union fait la Liberté de la Presse
par Michel Philippart (4/1994)

The democratic process in many African countries - as in Eastern and Central Europe - has opened a new era for the press and the media: the time of only one daily or weekly, a few periodicals, only one State-owned broadcasting corporation is over. We can now count many independent papers and private radio stations. However, they have to face a lot of difficulties: economic and financial constraints, censorship and political troubles... and also absence and fuzziness of legislation. In this respect the existence of strong and independent National Professional Associations of Journalists can play a tremendous role in the defence of press freedom, in the protection and promotion of the rights of journalists, and in promoting professional standards (training, status, ethics) which will contribute to the reputation and reliability of the journalists.

North-South-Policy: Apartheid in another Apparel?
by Karen Watermann (3/1994)

This article discussed the phenomenon which occurred after the so-called socialist empire fell, when hope blossomed that there would finally be "one world" in the 90‘s, at a time when conservatism and nationalism were globally on the rise in all guises, and the idea of South-South co-operation, self-reliance and self-financing, received more attention than ever before in the political and economic circles of the north. The article raises the question of whether this is a signal for a containment policy of the north in order to consolidate, preserve and protect the essential, and to dyke its own foreshore. The author asks for a careful probing of the subject "self-reliance" or "self-financing" in its wider present historical context and globalisation processes.


Self-help and Self-Reliance: The View of Church-related Agencies
by Hans Peter Gohla (3/1994)

During the first decade of development (1960-70), the charitable bodies of the Church followed the same guiding principles as official institutions, governmental and international organisations, i.e. economic development, modernisation and industrialisation and giving particular priority to the establishment of professional training centres. Today, after three decades of development, the vocabulary has been modified, signalling profound changes in development policies and their priorities. Surely the increasing use of the terms self-development, self-financing, self-centred development and partnership point to the continual up-dating of the subsidiarity principle as a foundation on which project leaders and aid agencies should build their relationships with each other if they wish to avoid the pitfalls of dependency and 'easy money'.

Self-Financing: The Dove and the Serpent
by M.X. Pooranam Demel (3/1994)

Father M. X. Pooranam Demel SJ, director of the Culture and Communication Centre in Madras, India strongly maintains that self-financing of Church communication activities is possible, although he remains convinced that it will be a difficult process, requiring both time and the existence of several preconditions. According to the author, the activities of the Church prove too often ineffective, hampered by bureaucratic methods, lack of transparency in decision-making, incompetence and favouritism in management, poor use of local resources and the dogmatic, moralistic tone of the products. He expresses his conviction that rigorous professional standards and a pragmatic commercial approach are the basis for any pursuit of self-financing in the long term.

Latin-America: Autofinanciamiento y el aporte de las agencias de ayuda
by Christoph Dietz (3/1994)

Most of the so-called cultural or educational radio stations in Latin America have received funds from funding agencies to secure or improve their operations. 'The actual debate on financial self-reliance urges, on the one hand, the local responsibles to search for a greater independence from regular help. At the same time, project holders formulate their expectations on how agencies could help them reach this aim. The article summarises some suggestions collected by Victor van Oeyen, adviser of Radio Chiwalaki (Cochabamba, Bolivia), stressing for example the importance of (management) formation and investments in high-quality equipment.

Dominican Republic: Radio Santa Maria and the ECCA model
by Hans Peter Gohla / Antonio Lluberes (3/1994)

The Spanish Jesuit, Francisco Villen, founded Radio ECCA on the Canary Islands in 1965, initially modelled on the Radio School "Sutatenza" (ACPO) in Columbia. Together with his fellow brother, Luis Espino Cepeda, he developed an original concept which turned out to be a novel and exemplary method for a radio school. It was to become the inspiration for a good number of Latin American countries - the first and still best known being Radio Santa Maria in the Dominican Republic. The present director, Fr. Antonio Lluberes SJ, gives a short overview on the administrative profile of the radio, organising the financing in three different funds: operation, agriculture and employees.

Costa Rica: 10 Años Amigos de Radio Santa Clara
by Marco Antonio Solís Villalobos (3/1994)

A possible way to raise local income for media projects is to let their target groups contribute to the financing. For the last ten years, Radio Santa Clara, a diocesan radio station in Costa Rica, has organised its "Club of Friends". The initiative which meanwhile brings together about 15,000 members and 250 collaborators, and covers almost 25% of the station's operational costs, is not only a success from a financial point of view, but the club also facilitates continuous contact with and feedback from the audience, thus integrating the listeners into the programme planning. Fr. Marco Antonio Solis V., director of Radio Santa Clara, gives an overview of the development and the organisational structure of their "Club de Amigos".

SEDE: ¿Financiamiento o Autonomía Económica Popular?
by Javier Morales Valverde (3/1994)

SEDE, "Services for Development" (San José, Costa Rica), supports non-governmental organisations especially in the fields of administration and accounting, and provides them with legal advice. In the following article, its director stresses that financial self-reliance cannot be reduced to opening new income sources. Efforts should also take into account formation in management, strengthening of the organisation's autonomy as well as a continuous improvement of the services offered. In any event, all concepts of a "popular economy" should be rooted in the specific experiences and strong points of the people involved in the project.

ALER: El Reto del Autofinanciamiento de las Radios Populares
by Humberto Vandenbulcke (3/1994)

Founded in 1972, ALER, the Latin American Association for Education via Radio, meanwhile brings together 78 popular radio stations and radio schools operating in 18 different countries of the continent. ALER and its members have, for several years, been paying particular attention to their financial reliability and to the possibilities of increasing local income. Humberto Vandenbulcke who has been the ALER General Secretary for the last twelve years, explains the special need for popular radio stations to compete on the commercial media market: "Stations which do not grow will disappear". If stations accept this challenge their future policy might be characterised by the observance of business criteria, the search for possible sponsors, a continuous evaluation of the activities realised and last but not least, collaboration with other stations following the same objectives.

TV Production: Amateurs s'Abstenir!
by Henrik Boisschot (3/1994)

From 1963 to 1988, Fr. Henrik Boisschot CICM was Director of "Téléstar", the radio/TV production centre founded by the Church in Kinshasa, Zaire, in 1963, and nationalised in 1974; in 1988, he went to Cameroon to set up the Multi-Media Centre on behalf of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Cameroon. Since July 1993, the Multi-Media Centre is operational as a fully professional video/TV production unit, in close collaboration with the National Broadcasting Corporation (CRTV). Based on his experience in TV production at a highly professional level, the author suggests some ways and conditions to generate income and improve the self-reliance of video/radio production centres. Ways: sponsoring, sale of the product to the general public and to broadcasting corporations, taking commercial jobs, renting of equipment and staff, etc. Conditions: professional capacity of the staff and technical infrastructure, full use of the equipment and intensive productions, quality of the productions, attractive and competitive salaries to keep the personnel. However, the editorial policy of the programming must be attractive to prospective sponsors and customers: in this, preference should be given to educational, cultural and developmental programmes rather than strictly religious ones.

Madagascar: Isika Mianakavy et le Développement Rural
by Alain Pichard (3/1994)

Founded in 1955, "Isika Mianakavy", is a 12-page monthly paper in the Malagasy language, with a circulation of 32,000 copies. It offers information and articles to the rural population of Madagascar on agricultural techniques, health, politics, with a focus on democratic processes on the island and on national and international events of interest for farmers and rural people. Isika Mianalcavy is also used as a reading book in many primary schools throughout the country. A key to the success of the magazine among the rural areas and farming communities is the acceptance of subscription fees in goods, rice or coffee during the harvest time. The author also questions why the rural press is so rarely integrated into development programmes so heavily subsidised by international NGOs and organisations.

Planning - Marketing - Networking: Break Through to the Other Side
by Myron J. Pereira (3/1994)

Myron J. Pereira is editor of "Jivan", the magazine of the Jesuits of Southern India, published in Bombay. He is concurrently a member of the management team of the Xavier Institute of Communication in Bombay, which produces audio-visual material and publications on development topics. In the following article he stresses the difficulty of achieving self-financing in the sphere of education, instruction and training. He is convinced that this sector is still, to a great extent, dependent on subsidies and donor aid. He also highlights the lack of professional marketing skills in the Churches' organisations and calls for stronger collaborative links among the various initiatives launched by the Churches. Finally, he declares the necessity of paying salaries comparable to prevailing national pay scales of those working in Church structures. Otherwise, these structures risk being dependent on underpaid, poorly qualified staff, a situation which can only have a detrimental effect on production quality.

Media Centre Bangalore: Nothing is too Good for the Lord
by V.J. Naidu (3/1994)

Joe Naidu SJ has worked for many years in the Church's media sector, not only in his home country of India but also at international level, particularly during his term as secretary of OCIC Asia. In this article, he shares with our readers the experiences of the Media Centre in Bangalore, India, of which he is director. The Media Centre actively pursues a policy of self-financing, even though it is difficult to offer competitive salaries and to ensure the continuing training of staff. Very often it is only devotion which motivates lay personnel to continue their labours on the 'grapevine of the Lord'.

Bangkok Conference: Women Empowering Communication
by Karen Watermann (2/1994)

Last February, 428 women communication professionals from more than 80 countries met in Bangkok for a conference devoted to the place and role of women in communications. Along with the conference delegates, we also have to acknowledge that, even after several decades of official equality between men and women, the position of women in today's world remains uncertain and subordinate. And the media - which largely remain under the control of men - are by no means the least of the vectors for the macho attitudes which perpetuate sexist stereotypes. The meeting in Bangkok was devoted to research, to sharing concrete alternatives to current approaches in the media and to strategies permitting the reinforcement and modification of the place of women in communication. However, these should also be applied to communication among women themselves, a subject insufficiently discussed at the Bangkok conference.

Catholic Radio Station in Poland: Geared to the PULS of Time
by Andrea Sofie Jannusch (2/1994)

In less than one year of existence, Radio Puls has become the most popular radio station in the Silesian town of Gliwice, in Poland, achieving nearly 30 percent audience penetration. However, nothing predisposed this diocesan radio station to overtake its five local competitors, two of which are commercial stations. Launched on a purely provisional basis with makeshift equipment, its only tools were the hi-fi sets of its first contributors and its capital - the result of fund-raising collections and the sale of founding director Father Skawinski's car. Radio Puls put several key factors for success into effect in the sphere of local radio. They created a small team of professionals in all sectors of the station to supervise and train voluntary workers. The public are encouraged to participate directly in the majority of programmes and to take on the role of interviewer, commentator, or even producer. A distinctive musical flavour has been created, which allows listeners to identify 'their' station instantly.

Video Pastoral en Latinoamerica: Imagen y Realidad
by Iván F. Rodrigo Mendizábal (1/1994)

In the meantime, video and television are leaving their mark on the everyday life of the majority of the population of Latin America. Various religious initiatives e.g. congregations as well as some national Bishops' Conferences, can already look back on considerable experience in the production of films for video and cinema. In this article, the General Secretary of OCIC Latin America (1990-1993) gives an overview of important new productions which he classifies - in accordance with prevailing main intentions - as religious, catechetical, educational or socio-political films. He also briefly characterises some central questions concerning the concept of pastoral videos. In spite of the continent-wide scope of television, video films are still - in the Christian media field primarily in use for group media.