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You, Me, & the Media – Mobilise for Change

March 25, 2009

98512395gh8My work is focusing predominantly upon the media and why they don’t report the DR Congo as much as I feel they should.  News is reported within a media logic, and reports are framed by social constructs, often applying the same few paradigms.

In my eyes, and the eyes of many, the media is too uncritical and offers too much space to governments and political leaders.  Media are a crucial institution in perpetuating this social constructs.

This, however, sounds as if I put blame completely on the shoulders of journalists, editors and media producers.  This is not the case.

It’s up to the citizen to demand change from the media.  For a majority of press, for instance, the bottom line is corporate value, dominated by commercial standards. Therefore, ultimately, the challenge is upon all of us.

The media audience must be mobilised as critical consumers of everything they are fed.  When this occurs, the commercial paradigm shifts to meet this new demand, and journalists are able to report the story.

Being critical is important, being mobilised is the key to social development.  When I read or write about the conflict in DR Congo, I often wonder what I can actually do to trigger a tangible change – it appears so overwhelmingly complex.

– 1,500 dead a day

– 5 million already dead

-conflict fought across multiple lines

-350,000 displaced

-1,000 rapes a month

When numbers are applied, it is difficult to truly connect with a story.  In fact, it makes it much easier to disconnect. So how can one humanise these numbers? I have begun to see positive applications of this.

For instance, MSF’s Condition Critical is a great example of humanising the individual victims of the rapes, and letting them tell their own individual story.  1,500 dead a day are 1,500 different, individual stories.

I read a charming blog today by Schooldad, ‘a father of three reports on homeschooling, working, and the joys and terrors of parenting’.  This is a normal, everyday person just like you and I; blogging about Harry Potter, the cat, and his kids.  But he has also found a way to mobilise himself for positive social change:

I loaned $25 to a man in the Congo

March 24th, 2009

A few months ago I loaned $25 to 5 women in the Dominican Republic thru an online micro-lending service called Kiva.  Kiva works with “field partners” around the world, organizations that actually oversee the administration and repayment of each loan.  It turned out that there was a problem (which the field partner in the Dominican Republic identified) which prevented the loan from going thru, so while Kiva and the field partner sorted things out, Kiva refunded my $25 which meant I could loan that money to someone else.

So I looked thru Kiva’s loan listings and selected a man in the Congo who wanted a loan to increase the profit he made in his biscuit-selling business by adding purified water.  And last week I got an email letting me know that he’d already posted his first loan payment of $1.56.  Woo-hoo!

Kiva’s a really neat organization.  If you’re looking for a way to help small (really small) business entrepreneurs in poor countries around the world, and you don’t have a lot of money to lend, this could be the site for you.

Instead of throwing $25 at a charity (which is not necessarily a bad thing), schooldad has found the means allowing him to connect with an individual in DR Congo and support their business, giving that person the ability to develop themselves.

Gordon Brown (I know…) recently quoted a highly successful Olympic coach, which sums this all up:

”The TeamGB cycling coach, Dave Brailsford, has done a great job. He says – maybe it’s true of Manchester United as well – that a big factor in success is what he calls the aggregation of minute differences . So you’ve got the handlebars better designed and he got the fitness improved and the uniform they wear … The aggregation of small improvements has put them at the top of the league.”

The aggregation of the many individual actions ultimately leads to success, you cannot rely on the few.  If more of us behaved like school dad, then things may really start moving.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2009 5:38 pm

    Some thoughts: just finished a paper on the legitimization of political actors and actions through the ritual and technological role of media (oof!).

    You’re probably already come across this stuff. But, the ideas of simulacra and simulation by Jean Beaudrillard is one.

    A bit of a pain to read, but interesting none the less: the play on myths and symbolism to ensure interest in a story; the manipulation of hyper real words like terrorism to distance story from meaning. Very Chomsky-esque.

  2. May 2, 2009 3:34 am

    MJPC to MONUC and Kabila: Enforce the ICC Arrest Warrant Against Ntaganda

    MJPC calls upon the Congelese Government and MONUC to act decisively to enforce the outstanding arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda.

    The Mobilization for Justice and Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MJPC) today called on the Congolese Government and the UN’s peacekeeping force in DR Congo, which is known as MONUC to act decisively to enforce the outstanding arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Bosco Ntaganda.

    Shocked and outraged by recent report by BBC that an indicted ICC war criminal is playing a leading role in the UN mission in the DR Congo, the MJPC is strongly urging the UN Security Council and the entire international community to put pressure on the Congolese Government and MONUC to enforce the ICC outstanding arrest warrant against Ntaganda as soon as possible. “While it seems absurd that the 17,000 UN troops in Congo have not yet taken steps to enforce the ICC arrest warrant against Ntagada, it is alarming and even horrifying that they are engaged incoordinating military operations with someone accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity of inconceivable magnitude”, said Amede Kyubwa, Executive Director of MJPC.

    “Unlike other countries where there are ongoing investigations on cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the ICC has the power to enforce its arrest warrants in the Democratic Republic of Congo because of the 17,000 peacekeeping soldiers of the UN in the country, but so far these troops have not yet made attempts to arrest Ntaganda despite knowing his whereabouts and coordinating military operations with him. Warrant issued by the ICC must be respected and enforced by MONUC and Government of Congo” added Mr Kyubwa.

    Ntaganda is accused of several war crimes and crimes against humanity including: the massacres of 150 people in the town of Kiwanja in 2008 in his duties as military chief of staff of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), torturing and killing of hundreds of civilians of Lendu and Ngiti ethnicity between August 2002 and March 2003 when he was chief of military operations of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), slaughtering of at least 800 civilians on ethnic grounds at Mongbwalu, including the first priest killed in the Ituri conflict, Abbe Boniface Bwanalonga, killing of a Kenyan UN peacekeeper in January 2004 and kidnapping a Moroccan peacekeeper later that year, and recruiting child soldiers in the eastern region of Ituri. The MJPC is strongly urging the Congolese Government and MONUC to execute the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against Ntaganda.

    As part of its global campaign against impunity in Congo, the MJPC has set up an online petition which can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/24459.html asking concerned citizens around the world to demand the UN in Congo Mission known as MONUC and the Congolese Government to act decisively to enforce the ICC outstanding arrest warrants against Ntaganda.

    About MJPC
    MJPC is a nonprofit organization working to add a voice in advocating for justice and peace in the DRC particulary in the east of DRC where thousands innocent civilian including children and women continue to suffer massive human rights violations while armed groups responsible for these crimes go unpunished

    For more information about the MJPC and its activities, visit http://www.mjpcongo.org. or call Amede Kyubwa @ 916 753 5717 or e-mail: info@mjpcongo.org . The online petition calling on the Congolese Government and MONUC to act decisively in enforcing the outstanding ICC arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/24459

  3. July 1, 2009 6:57 am

    MJPC blames the Congolese Government for the Deteriorating Situation in East Congo(DRC)

    “There is no excuse for missing to pay salaries to soldiers in lawless eastern Congo for six months”

    Following the deteriorating situation in east Congo, the MJPC called today for the Congolese Government to urgently pay the salaries to thousands of soldiers who have not been paid for over six months in eastern Congo, take swift action to enforce the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant against Bosco Ntaganda and to hold accountable perpetrators of sexual violence against women for their acts.

    “Failing to hold accountable individuals who commit war crimes and crimes against humunity continues to be the leading cause of widespread and systematic sexual violence acts against girls and women in the easten Congo” said Makuba Sekombo, Community Affairs Director of the Mobilization for Justice and Peace in the DR Congo (MJPC).

    Mr. Sekombo again criticized the government of Congo for not only the continuing failure to protect women and young girls from sexual violence, but also for “encouraging conditions that create opportunities for sexual violence to occur”. “There is no excuse for missing to pay salaries to soldiers in the lawless eastern Congo for six months” said Sekombo. The MJPC has also renewed its call for the Congolese government to take urgent needed action to end human rights abuses in east Congo, hold perpetrators accountable and ensure reparation for the victims of sexual violence.

    The MJPC has been urging the Congolese government to compensate the victims of sexual violence in order to also help combat impunity in eastern part of Congo where sexual violence against women and children has been widely used as weapon of war for more than decade. The MJPC online petition calling for for help to put pressure on Congolese Government to compensate victims of sexual siolence in Eastern DRC can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/26180.html

    About MJPC
    MJPC works to add a voice in advocating for justice and peace in the DRC particulary in the east of DRC where thousands innocent civilian including children and women continue to suffer massive human rights violations while armed groups responsible for these crimes go unpunished

    For more information about the MJPC and its activities, visit http://www.mjpcongo.org. or call Makuba Sekombo @ 1-408-8063-644 or e-mail: info@mjpcongo.org. The online petition calling on the Congolese Government to put urgently in place a comprehensive program of compensation for the victims of sexual violence in eastern Congo can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/26180.html

  4. June 11, 2010 4:14 pm

    I wrote a similar blog about this subject but you did a better job :)

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