An Editorial of the new edition of the WACC-Pacific regional newsletter: Voice of the Pacific
By Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, WACC Pacific Vice President also Executive Director – FemLINKPACIFIC
In the Pacific Island region the strategic priority of WACC “Strengthened public voices and participation of poor, marginalized, excluded and dispossessed people and communities in communication,” resonates as Pacific communities continue to be systematically denied the right to communication.”
The power of the mainstream media is not just about the issue of ownership being in the hands of the few with the economic power to own and define media systems, but also reflects how too often the limited viewpoint reflects only those who wield political and economic power both through traditional media forms as well as the new media, such as online media.
|WACC Pacific members at a planning session in Nadi, Fiji
Communication rights for all are often an issue of tension due to the traditional structures and systems of hierarchy within communities, including faith based communities. Within these systems, the voices of the children, youth and women are marginalized because they lack access to spaces of power.
And so, while the (most recent) Global Media Monitoring Project highlighted that only 8% of stories on poverty focus centrally on women, 9% of stories on education, 39% of stories on HIV and AIDS, 4% of stories on the environment and 19% of stories on global partnerships. Further, the GMMP research reveals that only 5% of poverty stories, education (5%), HIV & AIDS (16%), environment (3%) and global partnerships (1%) clearly challenge gender stereotypes.
The 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) included data drawn from research undertaken in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Australia and New Zealand were coordinated by volunteers drawn together by Fiji Media Watch, Ma’afafine Moe Famili Inc (Tonga), Vois Blong Mere Solomon, Divine Word University (PNG), Victoria and Massey Universities in New Zealand and Queensland University of Technology in Australia
The GMMP is nearly 20 year long project of WACC, is a model for what can be achieved through a network of researchers, monitors and advocates. The GMMP has provided a solid research-based platform for highlighting the under-representation of women in the mainstream media. We will continue this monitoring project and leverage the research findings into policy changes that ensure women’s voices and perspectives are increasingly heard.
WACC partners in the Pacific are also concerned about how we should not only respond to the media biases such as gender stereotypes but we also work to strengthen voices using a range of communication tools, including inter-personal communications.
In the Pacific Island region, WACC members are using a range of communication strategies to contribute to building networks of communicators to advance peace, understanding and justice:
Increase Communication Rights
- With the global increase in attention towards communication rights at the international community & new forms of communication are created, ethical & moral questions about communication are multiplying.
While the 2006 Pacific Communications Ministers affirmed that community broadcasting has a practical role in the implementation of the Digital Strategy of the Pacific Plan, especially as it utilizes low cost broadcast equipment which makes servicing remote locations in local languages possible and also media accessible by special interest groups such as women's groups, there has not been the development of a substantive gender inclusive and rights based approached to the Community Radio aspect of this regional plan. Greater effort is needed to link the roll-out of the Digital Strategy from a community rights perspective, rather than simply the creation of information communication infrastructure, building on civil society use and expertise of community media.
Electronic Media/Social media
- Use of media to mobilize grassroots & further consolidate information control & censorship by governments and global conglomerates.
In the Pacific Island region, urban youth have certainly claimed the space of social and electronic media for campaigns which range from Anti Bullying messages to community
activism, however the lack of infrastructure in rural communities, particularly the lack of rural electrification exacerbates the rural-urban divide.
- Develop new approaches to media literacy to accommodate the rapid changing landscape of information processing.
Fiji Media Watch and other civil society groups continue to utilize media monitoring to provide the qualitative and quantitative baseline for education and literacy programmes.
However, with a growing commercial media landscape, including the ICT sector, requires enhanced capacity for Pacific Island leaders to deepen their understanding of the context of media and ICTS in order to develop media education strategies that are not reactive but responsive to media consumerism patterns.
From the pulpit, to the use of community media and radio, as well as claiming spaces in the media through the development and production of our own media content WACC is enabling Pacific communities advance the voices and other marginalized groups. Through a practical and informed use of television, radio and print media our content is working to transform policies and influence decision-makers whether it is about social and political reform economic justice or peace building, we are demonstrating just how the integration of communication rights is vital in the work to ensure human rights for all.
Read full newsletter here: http://pacific.waccglobal.org/lang-en/newsletters-layout.html