MEDIAFORUM Archive 1997

Samskriti: Trying to Fill a Vacuum
by Fr. P.J. Joseph (4/1997)

In times where the globalisation process and modern communication and information technologies make grounds world-wide there are not only pros but also cons related to this development, emphasised once and again by various scholars and practicians in the field. Many critics from so-called Third World countries already emphasise that these western technologies again dominate and colonise their countries as the new technologies pose a great threat, in particular, to the cultural values, world views and behaviour patterns of marginalised/simple cultures in terms of anthropologists. In the Indian context the simple cultures are the Dalits (ex-untouchables), the Tribals and the Fisher Folk, who form more than 50% of the Indian population, still they are known as marginalised people and therefore marginalised (simple) cultures. The SAMSKRITI (Institute of Cultural Research and Action) is based in a small village in the northern part of the Indian Union State of Kerala and operates under the directorship of Jesuit Father P.J. Joseph. The main objective of the initiative is to promote the culture of these people and to preserve and revive their traditional technology while interestingly the term "technology" in the context of anthropologists here comprises also habits - especially vitally necessary and important survival factors - rooted in cultural traditions.

Red Científica Peruana: Los campesinos y el Internet
por Christoph Dietz (4/1997)

Founded in December 1991, the NGO "Red Científica Peruana" (RCP, Peruvian Scientific Network) has developed into the most important Internet-provider in Peru. Universities, NGOs, human rights groups and cultural associations, as well as the media, the government and trade organisations, offer a great thematic variety of web sites including a considerable share translated into Quechua, the most important indigenous language. In particular, the more than half a million Peruvians living outside the country use RCP extensively. Momentarily, RCP is planning to establish a nationwide network of one thousand "public Internet cabins" to facilitate access to the Internet for the majority of the population, which has neither a telephone nor a computer. Due to the fact that from the beginning private and public institutions, development organisations and universities joined the common project led by an experienced journalist, RCP is at the moment the only non-commercial Internet-network in Latin America of national importance. "Red Científica Peruana" has always been self-financed, and now has 11,000 people registered, and innumerable occasional users.

Plans pastoraux de communication: Un exemple africain
par Michel Philippart (3/1997)

Nowadays no-one would dare question the importance of pastoral plans for communication. But how many dioceses, countries or regions do actually have them? Therefore the steps taken in Central Africa (ACERAC) for the elaboration of such a plan merit mentioning. The keys and main principles of this endeavour are: the conviction and the willingness of the responsibles and communicators in the region, the definition of precise aims, a clear analysis of resources available and the gaps, as well as the determination of precise and realistic actions within the short and long range. The elaboration of such a plan however is not an end in itself; it is a never ending performance, a continued challenge.

Venezuela: La Revista Presencia Ecuménica
por Jochen Streiter (3/1997)

For those knowledgeable of the Christian context of Latin America, it might be surprising to learn that for years already periodicals dealing with ecumenism exist there. One of them is the quarterly "Presencia Ecuménica" published since 1985 by "Acción Ecuménica", an organisation founded in Venezuela in 1977 by Catholics and representatives of various Protestant Churches with the goal of working together in the social, religious and theological field. Meanwhile the publication has gained even continental appreciation, creating an open forum for exchange, informing about concrete activities related to the ecumenical movement and facilitating actual bibliographical information. "Presencia Ecumenica" is an important example for pluralism within and among the Churches, supporting mutual understanding, respect and collaboration, and at the same time resisting sectarianism and self-censorship, which unfortunately is also very real in Latin America. As one of the most important challenges from a publisher's point of view, the author mentions the improvement and professionalisation of distribution to make the quarterly available to a broader public and thus facilitate its self-financing.

Social Communications in Eastern Europe: The Challenge of Freedom
by László Lukács (2/1997)

Seven years after the turbulent events which shook Central and Eastern Europe, the author assesses the position of the Catholic media in this region. Despite the extreme diversity of the media landscape, there are nevertheless several areas of congruence: notably the lack of strategic planning, an extremely broad range of publications, the absence of co-ordination among various initiatives, dependency on Western aid agencies and an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. As a priority, László Lukács recommends a planning strategy suited to the implementation of education and staff training programmes.

Las Radios Comunitarias en Colombia: ¿Qué papel jugarán?
por Christoph Dietz (1/1997)

During the last ten years many community radio initiatives have emerged in Colombia. In comparison to other Latin American countries, the Colombian legislation is in favour of the community radios with regard to the power limit (250 W), and permission to advertise. Originally a movement of urban youth, but recently also rural and church-related initiatives have also emerged. In March 1997 the government adjudicated 400 frequencies, and soon a total of 1,200 communities will have their own community radio. Nevertheless, it will be very difficult for them to become a local alternative to the commercial radio stations due to the impressive political and economical influence of the commercial radio networks, as well as their legal privileges.

Latin America: Video Pastoral y Pastoral del Video
por Victorino Zecchetto SDB (1/1997)

There is no doubt that pastoral video production demands the same quality and professionalism as commercial programmes. Nevertheless, to put this requirement into practice is a continuous challenge for all those involved in this field. The pastoral use of video should not be limited to videos prepared explicitly for that aim. All kind of productions dealing with the real problems of today's people - be they social themes, sexuality, violence or religious experiences - can be of pastoral help when they are used for an active and critical analysis. A video will raise the interest of its audience when people feel personally touched by its story and its presentation. Finally, all those animating video discussions should pay attention to an adequate methodology which takes the group and its dynamics into account.