This morning I attended a very broad and interesting side-event on “Global Information and Communication Policy” organized by Consumer’s Union. The event featured an international panel of speakers including :
- Luiz Fernando Marrey Moncau, Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor, Brazil
- Rosemary Okello-Orlale, African Woman and Child Feature Service, Kenya
- Bjarne Pedersen, Consumers International
- Andrew Puddephatt, Global Partners UK
- Jamie Love, CPTech
Andrew issued a provocative challenge to the media reform community to show the evidence of their claims. What follows are some of my notes from his talk…
Andrew Puddephatt, Global Partners UK
I want to give you a broader human rights point of view. Media plays a central role in political discourse.
Freedom of expression is one of most important rights in International Declaration of Human Rights:
Includes the right to impart and receive information. This is broader than the First Amendment, which just covers government’s infringement of the freedom of the press.
The Ford Foundation has funded us to look at issues of human rights, freedom of expression and media and telecommunications policy. In the advocacy community the claim and opinion often transcends the evidence.
There are two issues relevant to this conference that I am thinking about:
1st Issue: Does the digital interent environment offer opportunities for political discourse that the traditional media doesn’t?
The evidence is mixed. How do people get information globally: the most important medium is TV, then radio, print, and the last is the Internet. Part of this is related to cost and access of course.
If you look at th information that people trust, the pattern is the same. People trust TV, radio, print, and last is Internet.
Traditional gatekeeping role of media is disappearing, either the state or corporations. They can’t control what information we have access to.
We are interested in moving toward a curating model of information. Information needs to be curated in a way that shows the information that you want similar to how a museum curates a large body of information into discrete exhibits and presentations that people can understand and digest.
If you lose the structure of the net, you give up on curating and you go back to gatekeepers.
The other question is who is doing the curating? Is it going to be bottom-up or done by Bill Gates and Google.
2nd Issue: Do new technologies offer possiblities for new forms of social organization?
The Internet combines 1-1 communication and traditional broadcast. How effective are we at using the Internet to organize? The evidence is mixed.
We are effective at mobilizing on national level. South Korea, Philippines, Brazil as examples of national mass mobilization using information technology.
We have not showing that its effect transnationally. The most effective transnational network is Al Queda – has reconstituted itself on the net.
The problem is not technology or capacity – we have lots of geeks. It’s an organizational issue – we are divided and unable or unwilling to connect with each other across borders.
- We have the potential to organize transnationally.
- We have to tackle structural inequalities. I.e. the Digital Divide.
- We have to examine how we operate. I.e. our own behavior, and inability to organize transnationally.