Everyone everywhere has become more media dependent. This development has reinforced the power of the mass media to convey information, shape perspectives, change behavior and inspire people to action. The media is capable of playing both constructive and destructive roles, however. In recent times, we have seen the power of the media in helping to inspire people to topple dictatorships and adopt more democratic forms. We have also seen how the media can be used to instigate people to seek violent solutions -- in places like Rwanda and the Balkans into committing acts of genocide. We have seen how media is capable of encouraging people to better care for themselves and their children and of creating understanding of those living with HIV/AIDS. Yet, we have also seen how the media by communicating misleading information can work to undermine valuable public health initiatives like the global polio eradication.
Empowering Communications believes that the media can be a critical ally in advancing positive social change in all societies and is dedicated to engaging the media to play this role, especially in the health arena, in potentially volatile political transitions, in humanitarian crises and in the area of human rights. Media can help define the context in which the public feels empowered to take positive steps toward achieving greater prosperity, health and well-being for its members. In this sense, a robust, diverse and engaged media can help bring about the "change of heart" (to use Gandhi's words opening this website) that makes democracy a workable and desired form of governance.
Much of the world media is at an important historic juncture. While parts of the world have benefited from the dazzling array of information now available through the Internet, many in developing countries continue to turn to radio, TV and the print media as their primary source of information. In many countries, the end of the Cold War ushered in an era of liberalizations of the airways, both for radio and TV. The promise of the diversification of information that was expected from the liberalization process has often not been realized. However spectacular have been the achievements in the globalization of media distribution, the economics of this "new information order" favor the widespread distribution of information and entertainment products that understandably bear the perspectives of the economically-advanced societies, from whence they originate. Frequently, newly-emergent private TV and radio stations in Africa, for instance, have acted more as distributors of inexpensive foreign imports rather than locally-produced programs. So, there remains the very valuable opportunity to use such outlets for the presentation of local media productions that are designed to constructively address the very real concerns of communities around the world.
New productions will expand the size of the public arena available for discourse, discussion and debate on matters of urgent concern for the health and well-being of individuals and their communities. This challenge is not exclusively one of the so-called "developing" countries. From Los Angeles to Paris, there is an urgent need to enlarge the public media arena to air the many local concerns as a way of bringing marginalized voices into public discourse. Above all, media functions best in finding common ground and viable solutions when it turns away from authoritarian, one-way forms of communication toward inclusive, interactive and solution-oriented communications designed to involve and reflect individuals and their communities.
Empowering Communications promotes local productions, local perspectives and local voices everywhere, as means of enlarging the size of the public arena that is open to address more and more of the pressing problems confronting societies. In the area of HIV/AIDS, for instance, research shows that people around the world turn to the media as their primary source of information. As a consequence, a reliable and attuned media is better able to constructively address the global threat of HIV/AIDS by more effectively speaking to the variety of issues that underpin the pandemic and to the heavy social costs that result from it.
Empowering Communications believes that trustworthy and authentic media help to secure a better future everywhere for everyone.