MEDIAFORUM Archive 1999

FM Esperanza en Buenos Aires: Marginalidad Urbana y la Radio
by Guillermo F. Fossati (3-4/1999)

In recent years an ever-increasing number of initiatives have been launched to fight the growth of urban poverty, a serious problem in many Latin American countries. In addition to health, basic infrastructure and job creation projects, there are groups which plan to organise communication spaces, through which people living in marginalised urban areas can express themselves, communicate with their neighbours, exchange ideas and share their joys and sorrows. In common with the people's communication media in rural areas, they aim to become the voice of those who are deprived of a voice in the commercial and mass media. Guillermo F. Fossati, director of Esperanza FM, describes the experiences of his radio station, which operates in a marginalised area of Ciudadela Norte, Gran Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Las Radios Indígenas en Guatemala: ¿ Radios del Pueplo?
por Aurora Velasco (3-4/1999)

Radio Indígena bears witness to the existence of many forgotten groups of people by bringing them to our attention. After all, as far as others are concerned, a person or group without a voice does not exist. In expressing ourselves orally, we affirm our own existence as human beings, we make ourselves noticed and begin to exist for others, who were previously unaware of us. Through words we express our thoughts, feelings, our faith and our philosophy of life. By becoming real for others, we make it possible to discuss subjects which, as a general rule, are not addressed in the media. In addition, we contribute to an awareness which can often lead to action. For this reason, the communication media are often subject to numerous controls by those in positions of power, by those who wish to impose a certain vision or point of view, by those who know that to be unaware of the existence of others is to act as if they do not exist at all.

Library Network in Peru: Barefoot Messengers
by John Medcalf (3-4/1999)

There are nearly 600 village libraries in Peru. The three principal influences on the network are the pedagogy of Paulo Freire, the barefoot doctors of China and the British public library system. Freire taught that literacy programmes were pointless without the availability of suitable reading materials; China warned us against vehicles, which would be difficult and expensive to maintain; the British system encouraged us to give readers direct access to books (not just to a filing cabinet) and to adapt the Dewey System to our very special requirements. The earliest rural libraries were attached to village schools, but when teachers failed to co-operate, village elders took over control. Librarians were proposed and elected by a show of hands. In addition to monthly visits to Cajamarca City to exchange the books, librarians took on responsibility for all cultural activities and even the protection of archaeological sites from marauders and tomb-robbers.

Chile: TV For the Poorest Sectors
by Valerio Fuenzalida (3-4/1999)

The Christian churches - together with many progressive sectors concerned with the fortunes of those who are most poor, generally have a bad relationship with terrestrial TV in underdeveloped countries. They want didactic television scheduling, education in values and virtues. They bitterly accuse TV of having, conversely, an entertainment schedule which is distracting and alienating. This tension is quite obvious and it has not been beneficial either to television or to the poor. The tension, in my opinion, arises from a great misunderstanding in these sectors towards television and the media; more specifically, it arises from a lack of understanding of televisual language, the devaluation of the reception situation in the home and from the awkwardness that causes the administrative operation of the industrial condition of television. The televisual language has an intrinsically ludic-affective and dramatic character and it is due to this that it is most suited for entertainment. However, in the Christian tradition and in rationalism, entertainment has been negatively portrayed as a useless distraction and something which takes away from the more important chores in life. The intention of this article is to motivate in the search for a more positive relationship with TV, demonstrating that the home is a very necessary place of learning for the poorest sectors of society and that televisual entertainment could be highly educational. In effect, other positive conceptions do exist that value entertainment not only as relaxation but also as a motivating factor and as a fantasy, useful to the extent that it widens self-understanding and the comprehension of reality.

Don Bosco Salesians in St. Petersburg: The Russian Adventure
by Fr. Joseph Tabarelli SDB (3-4/1999)

True to our motto, we Salesians began our "Russian adventure" in Gatchina: We started a joint-venture with an official school there, and integrated a training centre for skilled trades in the technical college. How did this come about? Different Russian concerns had a meeting in Venice in 1999 with their Italian partners. The Russians asked for help in training factory managers and qualified employees. The Italian companies showed their Russian guests a Salesian technical school in Venice and the Russians were very impressed by it. Why weren't there similar schools in Russia? Shortly afterwards we followed up on the invitation to Russia and searched for a place near St. Petersburg to open up our school. This was made possible as the director of a school in Gatschina was willing to co-operate with us.

Media Education in Asia: A Vital and Necessary Task
by Augustine Loorthusamy (3-4/1999)

Media education or EDU-communication first began around the early 1980s in Asia. We began to study the media under the title TAT or Television Awareness Training. At that time we saw the media and in particular television as "dangerous". We focused on sex and violence in media and those in church circles still do this. We then moved on to media awareness - an understanding that there are other forms of communication in society and that media has sub-consciously taken centre stage. This is still occurring with varying degrees of success. We finally settled down to media education in the mid-eighties. Media education was understood as an activity to help readers, listeners and viewers to be critical, appreciative and discriminating users of the mass media. Over the years the vocabulary began to expand thanks to Len Masterman and John J. Pungente (doyen of media education). Getting acquainted with media literacy helped us in some way to understand media education in a more organised way.

Television and Culture of Indigeneous People: Searching for Niches
by Ruedi Hofmann SJ (3-4/1999)

In this article the author, Ruedi Hofmann SJ, thematises how television can support the culture of indigenous people, despite the fact that indigenous culture can hardly attract advertisers from commercial television. A workshop conducted in Yogyacarta, Indonesia, brought traditional artists together with media experts to verify how television might well become a challenge and a new opportunity not only for the survival of, but perhaps even for a new and exciting development in indigenous culture.

Montfort Media Malawi: Call the Poor to the Feast
by Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba (3-4/1999)

"Invite them to the feast...". This is the last part of a famous parable that Jesus loved to tell, even if it was meant to shock his followers. While it is a very challenging task, the gathering, the calling of the poor to come together, it is the ideal that Montfort Media is trying to achieve. Situated in a small town in Malawi, Montfort Media has a very simple approach to implement the proclamation of the Good News, in words and deeds. In 1993 the magazine "The Lamp" was launched with the subtitle "Christians, Politics and Culture". A mobile bookshop carries the simple publications to even the very remote parishes and small bookshops are being established in the effort to reach, in particular, the people in the villages.

Radio Don Bosco en Madagascar: Une Radio Proche aux Pauvres

Since its creation in June 1996, Radio Don Bosco (RDB) has been regarded as the "Madagascan station for Madagascar". It is a cultural and educational radio station¾ inspired by the Christian message and the teachings of the Church¾ which aims to participate in the development and general advancement of all the people of Madagascar, but especially of its young people, who make up the majority of the population.

Femmes & Media en Afrique: L'Assault de la Citadelle
by Rokia Ba Toure (3-4/1999)

'A woman is not the mistress of her own mouth' declares a proverb of the Mossi people of Burkina Faso. But what is the place for women in the media in Africa? Few in number, they often occupy subordinate positions. The Media and Women project pursued by the Panos Institute in West Africa aims to promote the access of women to professions and positions of responsibility in the media.

Funding Agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from ADVENIAT
by Michael Huhn (3-4/1999)

In the fiscal year 1999, Adveniat has approved more than 4,800 projects, about 90 of which can be considered media projects. The following is a list of the most important types of media projects in the stricter sense: production of radio and TV programmes and videos; buying broadcasting time for Catholic radio and TV programmes; subsidies to sell videos at a reduced price; purchasing equipment for Catholic radio and TV stations and printing machines; scholarships and travel allowances for journalists and other media people; media seminars, work-shops and congresses; contributions to the on-going expenses of media organisations, media departments of Bishops' Conferences etc.

Funding Agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from EMW (Evangelisches Missionswerk)
by Glenine Hamlyn (3-4/1999)

The project support arm of our organisation, EMW (Protestant Association of Churches and Missions in Germany), is not organised regionally but according to four fields of activity, one of which is communications. Hence the Communications Desk deals only with projects in media. We receive about 150-200 applications a year, some of which are sent on to us by sister organisations in the AG KED (Association of Church Development Services of the Protestant Church in Germany). The number of applications reaching us has increased markedly over the past three years, while our funds have been decreasing.

Funding Agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from KIRCHE IN NOT (Church in Need)

The number of media projects we received has stabilised over the last few years: its percentage fluctuates at around 1-2 % of the total number of projects. We received 183 projects in 1994; and 177 in 1998. There have however been some changes in the regions: for instance Africa used to send more media projects. This has decreased sharply and is now steadily increasing in Latin America. Eastern Europe remains our priority region for media projects.

Funding Agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from MISSIO-Aachen

Missio aids the local Churches in Africa, Asia and Oceania in the areas of pastoral work. Missio's priority is the basic and advanced training of Church personnel (e.g. lay leaders, sisters and priests). The means of social communication play a significant role in today's pastoral. This is mirrored in Missio's project policy, which promotes a comparatively high percentage of media projects.

Funding agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from MISSIO-München
by Barbara Pauli (3-4/1999)

As Missio-München, we would like to introduce three media and communication ventures, which play a major role in the wide range of projects supported by our agency: a training course of two regional conferences of the Catholic Church in Africa; the radio station "Parana" in the diocese of San in Mali and the ecumenical publishing house, Word Publishing Company in Papua, New Guinea.

Funding Agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from RENOVABIS

Renovabis concedes that media work in countries of the former Eastern Bloc is of importance. Besides the main areas of concern - pastoral work (including building), social and educational projects as well as the promotion of the laity in the Church - Renovabis also refers to media work in the annual reports as an independent area in order to stress the significance. Since the official opening in 1993, 252 media projects have received financial support. In 1998 alone 63 projects were approved. The main emphasis was centred in Poland, where between 1994 and 1998, 34 media initiatives were subsidised followed by "international projects" (32) and Russia (26).

Funding agencies and "Media for the Poor": Statement from WACC (World Association for Christian Communication)
by María Teresa Aguirre (3-4/1999)

Concern for the poor lies at the very heart of WACC's support for media projects and activities amongst grass roots, NGOs and churches in the south. Since its creation, some 25 years ago, WACC has prioritised and emphasised the crucial role of communication in the transformation and democratisation of societies. This commitment was crystallised during the 1980s in WACC's Christian Principles of Communication which encourage us to strive for the kind of communication that creates community, is participatory, liberates people and contributes to the support and development of cultures.

30 years of CAMECO: Workshop 5: Internet - A Medium for the Poor?
by Christoph Dietz and Nina Fluck (3-4/1999)

The western public in general considers the Internet as an important means of democratic culture as it facilitates the direct experience exchange and discussion between citizens. User groups share their common problems and sometimes the actual information provided by the Internet can't be found elsewhere. The workshop "Internet for the Poor" asks the question, if the developing countries - and especially the poor sectors - can also profit from the new technology. On the one hand, the telecommunication infrastructure especially in Africa, but also in the extended rural areas of Asia and Latin America are so deficient that there is no access to the Internet (or it is very expensive). On the other hand, most of the contents of the Internet reflect the needs and interests of the industrialised countries, or of the local economic and scientific elite of the developing countries. The workshop presented three case studies: the Peruvian Internet Provider Red Científica Peruana (PCP), the NGO information exchange in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the use of satellite broadcasting and Internet by the Latin American Radio Network ALER.

Indonesia: United Media Presence
by Ruedi Hofmann SJ (3-4/1999)

The author Fr. Ruedi Hofmann SJ, the founder father of the Puskat audio-visual studio based in Yogyacarta, Indonesia, thematises the need for inter-religious productions in mass media and a "united religious presence". He gives a lively insight into the experiences - good and bad - gained by Puskat to support inter-religious dialog in and with their work. Many obstacles have to be tackled by the Puskat team when producing TV programmes in Indonesia, be it government censorship or the protests of viewers from different religions with different tastes or cultural backgrounds. As a result Fr. Ruedi Hoffmann concludes that the production team is learning through their experience and letters received from viewers, whether critical or appreciative, they are very supportive and important to the team's learning process. Puskat's objective is to follow an inter-religious approach in order to make their viewers happy and to convey messages of friendship and happiness for all religions: Christians, Moslems, Buddhists or Hindus.

Poland: Church in Public Serbice TV
by Grzegorz Dobroczynski SJ (3-4/1999)

The author gives an overview on the involvement of the Catholic church in public service TV in Poland. Dobroczynski describes how the perception of the Church's role in society and the (mis-)understandings about the functions of the media influenced the reporting on the Church as well as the work of the religious departments of public broadcasting. Although the legal structure guaranteed the Church access to state-owned media right after the breakthrough in 1989, a phase of open conflicts followed, where people working for Church broadcasting were seen as "Church agents", new "aparatchicks" or "Church propagandists". A period of indifference or acknowledgement could be observed before the author could state, that the "general climate was close to normal".

30 years of CAMECO: Workshop 2: Is There any Perspective of Self-Sustainance for the Press in Africa
by Michel Philippart (3-4/1999)

During the era of one-party political systems and media monopolies in Africa, the Catholic press was one of the few independent critical voices. The 'springtime' experienced by the press in the early 1990s put an end to this situation. Today, the Catholic press in Africa is faced with competition and marketing difficulties. Low circulation, distribution difficulties, high production costs and retail prices out of the price range of potential readers are all negative factors. Is the Christian press condemned to an existence of aid dependency?

ELCM Community Radio during War-Time Liberia: For Peace and Justice
by Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis, Monrovia (3-4/1999)

Mgr. Michael Kpakala Francis, Archbishop of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, retraces here the troubled history of the FM radio station in his diocese. This is the story of its transition from its origins as a community station working for evangelism and development to its current status as a promoter of peace, reconciliation and justice in a country ravaged by a long and terrible civil war.

Africa: Hate Media - Peace Media
by Julienne Munyaneza (3-4/1999)

The electronic media in particular are in some cases fashioned into tools of terror, as was the case in Uganda during Adi Amin's dictatorship when radio was used to maintain his reign of terror. And the most recent example is of course the "hate radio" also known as the "killing radio", la Radio/Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) du Rwanda. But, can the media play a positive constructive role, in particular in Africa? They definitely can. But unfortunately, we think of the positive role of the media, a curative one, after conflicts have destroyed people's lives and the socio-economic fabric of a nation is torn to pieces. Following what happened and is still happening in the Great Lakes Region and in other sub-regions on the continent, WACC in collaboration with other partners launched a very interesting programme targeting armed conflict and other critical situations with special emphasis on the role of the media. I know also that the PANOS Institute is doing the same. Under this programme, radio broadcasts in Rwanda, focusing on reconciliation, trauma healing, peaceful co-habitation, forgiveness, love, etc. have been supported through the Council of Churches.

Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Realities
by Lászlo Lukácz (3-4/1999)

Besides the excellent and well established Catholic media of Poland, the relatively free Church press in Yugoslavia, the restricted but existing press in East Germany and Hungary, there was nothing at all like Catholic media in the other communist countries, so they had to start their activities from a zero-point in 1989-90. For shortness' sake I would like to characterise the new situation of Central and Eastern Europe after the political changes of 1989-90, by describing three illusions, three types of transition and five needs of the present and the future. The illusions were: freedom = earthly paradise; freedom = boom in religious practice; rebirth of church life = construction of institutions. The types of transition are: from personal micro communication to freedom of expression; from monologue to dialogue; from discrimination to freedom or privileges? The challenges and needs for the future are: wounds to be healed - fear and mistrust; need for money; need for professionalism; need for media pastoral planning; need for training.

The Philippines: Media and Women in the South
by Anna Leah Sarabia (3-4/1999)

We see that the media for women, as a rule, is to connect women with each other so that they understand that they have common needs as well as differences across boarders and races, across cultural and historical backgrounds and across differences in economic styles and opportunities. We believe that women should understand each other due to having been, for many centuries, strangers to themselves. Women still don't really know what is occurring around them or how to develop their full potential. Whilst under Martial Law, all media in the Philippines was censored and it was forbidden to gather in groups of more than three. Because of this, the skill of public speaking had to be relearnt after we won democracy and the media has been helping women do this. Media can connect women with the mechanisms for their own social, political and economical development and when women are able to do this they can change and improve and develop the next generation of people. Media can help women achieve their own potential so that they can contribute to social class formation and we believe that women, when educated, when articulate, when able to express themselves, are a very powerful force.

Radios Populares in Latin America: Concepts for the Future
by Humberto Vandenbulcke (3-4/1999)

Over the last 30-40 years, the Latin American radios populares, have made great efforts to support the marginalised people of Latin America. During this period, hundreds of radio stations were born, with a vocation for community service. Additionally, thousands of community radio stations presently serve their local communities in the various countries of the continent. A variety of work models have been developed. A number of alternative communication experiences accumulated, which contributed to the process of change. While the basic inspiration for many of the radio projects was solidarity with the poor in terms of "development" and the improvement of their quality of life, we also note that some stages during the growth of the radios populares project movement can be distinguished by their particular style and way of making radio for the poor. The radio schools emerged firstly with the idea of "educating" poor people. Throughout the ‘1970s the radios populares wanted to change the unjust structures of their societies. In the 1990s they promoted the process of democratisation and the strengthening of civil society.

Evangelisation of the Multimedia Culture
by Archbishop John P. Foley (3-4/1999)

Firstly, the most important task of Catholic communications efforts all over the world must be an enthusiastic response to the mandate of Jesus Christ "Teach all nations". Secondly, the air waves and the printing presses are filled with the messages of many false prophets - whether they be the fundamentalists of many different religions or the seductive voices of materialism, consumerism and secularism, and we have only ourselves to blame if some succumb to the siren call of such false prophets if we have not offered, in the most attractive and convincing manner possible, the authentic Good News about Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.The most important conviction all of us must have, however, is that, in evangelising, in communicating the Good News of Jesus Christ, we must ourselves live that Good News and, as St. Francis de Sales so wisely said, "be reservoirs and not merely conduits" of what we communicate.

30 Years of CAMECO: A Look back ... to the Future
by Dr. Daniela Frank (3-4/1999)

The anniversary of an institution which has been existing for 30 years is an opportunity to have a look of the beginnings and to see how the goals set initially could be realized or have changed during the years. Various people attended our seminar, directly affiliated with the foundation of CAMECO. Together we shared memories and reflexions at a roundtable.

Communication Training in the Americas: Leaving Traditional Grounds
by Adán M. Medrano (2/1999)

The congruence that can be seen in both Latin American and US media training programs is a sign of hope that the church, as in every age, is intent upon the faithful inculturation of the Gospel in the media era. By taking advantage of academic research and innovative practice, new training programs are evolving which break down the traditional separation between media specialists and other ministries like religious education, liturgy and youth apostolate. It will be the continuing dialog and networking of north and south that will lead to ever more clear methods for moving from instrumentalism to inculturation.

Les agences de presse chrétiennes en Afrique: Au Carrefour des Inforoutes
par Michel Philippart (2/1999)

The new information and communication technologies could be an unexpected chance for African news agencies, especially for those which are church related, in that it would finally make the rest of the world take notice of African affairs. However, the challenges to be faced are numerous: in the first place a stronger collaboration among the news providers needs to be implemented in order to reduce operation expenses and to offer a wide coverage of the whole continent. Secondly, the problem of a lack of qualified manpower and appropriate technical equipment has to be solved and finally, the challenge to reach an excellent quality of subscriber service has to be faced. Examples from news agencies in Kinshasa and Nairobi document the long and winding road to be tackled.

Radios Comunitarias en El Salvador: Solución Creativa
by Oscar Pérez (1/1999)

Although in El Salvador a new telecommunications law was approved only in November 1997, this legal corpus is still incomplete and does not reflect the actual broadcasting situation in the country. The Association of Participative Radios and Programmes (ARPAS) which brings together more than 20 community radios, especially criticises the limitations in authorising FM frequencies in the rural areas of the countries. As part of its strategy to support the democratisation of social communications, ARPAS decided to purchase a national FM frequency which - according to the new telecommunications law - can be fragmented as often as technically possible. This means, that those community radios whose local frequencies were not authorised, are now able to transmit their signals, thanks to a regional segment of the ARPAS national frequency. Using legal possibilities, this strategy facilitates the expansion of community radios in all regions of the country, although the law itself specifically tried to avoid this development.

Transmisión de la Santa Misa en la TV alemana: Presentar a Jesús Invisible
por Eckhard Bieger, SJ (1/1999)

In German public television, the transmission of the Sunday Eucharist is one of the few programmes having a constant and even growing audience. One of the criteria of quality - and it can be supposed that it is also one of the reasons for its success - is the specific visual language developed during the last years. This "mystagogic direction" which aims at expressing the presence of the invisible Jesus Christ, includes for example a relatively slow rhythm of pictures, preferring fading to sharp cuts. Instead of commentaries in the off, the director uses rites, gestures, symbols and images to facilitate access to the mystery of faith, celebrated in the Holy Mass. As a matter of interest, more and more people, who no longer celebrate Sunday Mass in a parish, tune in to this transmission very regularly - a fact which might imply a new pastoral challenge for the Church. This article is also available in German. To receive a copy, please contact CAMECO.