|APWW tackles strong links between media and feminist advocacies|
|Thursday, 02 July 2009 17:43|
by Nina Somera, Isis International
Isis International conducted a communications strategy workshop for members of the Asia Pacific Women's Watch network from 12 to 14 June 2009 in Saitama, Japan. The workshop aimed to help women's groups to project their advocacies on violence against women (VAW) both to mainstream and alternative media in ways that they find strategic and appropriate based on their local and national contexts. It also sought to reconcile the characteristics and expectations of both civil society and the media in the creating and disseminating ideas and information.
The workshop aimed to surface the gaps and learn from the success in building a relationship with the media. As one Pakistani woman said in a pre-workshop survey, “Local media is not interested in human and women's rights issue.” Another from the Philippines shared, “ The media often do not read enough such that they sometimes misinterpret data and analysis on gender issues.”
The workshop consisted of three modules: “Understanding Media,” “Bridging the Gap Between Media and NGOs” and “Media Strategies.” “Understanding Media” laid down the various characteristics of media, from one that is a powerful institution and instrument for (mis)representation to one that can be empowering. It also discussed what is referred as the “four As” of effective political communication: agenda-setting, aesthetics, authenticity and audience. It also shared the basics and various tips in writing for print media through press releases, letters to the editor and statement; radio plugs and programme, photo opportunities, media conferences and media briefings and new media.
“Bridging the Gap Between Media and NGOs” further differentiated NGOs and media, even as the latter is expected to be watchdog on various political issues and processes. From this discussion, six criteria for newsworthy stories were highlighted: timeliness, novelty, human interest, personality-based, clarity and proximity of issues.
Finally, “Media Strategies” provided a more comprehensive background on the globalising operations of media and their impact on reporting on Southern women's realities. This module demonstrated the limited creation of information on otherwise public concerns with the increasing concentration of media ownership where a single media corporation or a few media owners have interest in other business ventures, including public utilities such as telecommunications and energy. It also explained the perpetuation of fundamentalist ideas and practices through the media.
As Cai Yiping, Isis International's Executive Director emphasised the need for organisations to seriously include media and communications in their agenda, including budgets and monitoring. “[There is value in] generating information on your own media — publications, website and mailing lists and keeping these and the media updated.”
The participants also had the opportunity to further discuss their experience with both national and international media. Moreover, they managed to apply their learnings through fun and practical exercises.
Based on a post-workshop evaluation, the participants were satisfied with the workshop. As one participant commented, “The workshop can be for any type of advocacy.” Another reflected, “For the effective use of media, it is critical to understand media, who they are, how they work and what attracts their attention.” Still another said, “The actual experience-sharing among participants were useful and interesting.”
The workshop was also a part of the preparations for the Asia Pacific NGO Forum on Beijing+15 which will be held from 22 to 24 October 2009 in Quezon City, Philippines