Radio NafAt the start of 2017, the refugees of Rohingya fled in the thousands from Myanmar. Today, many of their lives are still in disarray as they search for family, look for new homes and deal with the trauma from the violence that drove them out of their country.

Rohingya refugees often lack the information to take the next steps towards these goals. The use of media within camps has been vital to dealing with the emergency and keeping refugees connected with each other and the outside world, so Rohingya refugee media has been given a new voice: Radio NAF.

Radio NAF: A Voice for the Voiceless

In times of crisis like this one, access to information is almost as vital as food, shelter, and water. Local media can and has been used as a platform to update refugees on the status of their hometowns, educate them on sanitary practices and guide them toward necessary resources. Moreover, media has been used as a platform for refugees to voice their experiences and call the rest of the world to action.

Radio NAF is a community-based radio station in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. The station serves the rural and underserved communities in the region, which also happens to be home to the largest Rohingya refugee settlement, Kutupalong. The station interviews refugees and discusses the issues that affect them.

Due to the poor radio reception in these areas, all of the shows are prerecorded and brought to the communities through seven “listener clubs.” While the population in the settlement has declined slightly, listenership and attendance have risen, indicating that this is an invaluable source of information for those that come to and remain at the settlement.

But, another reason for the influx in attendance could also be the station’s ability to provide a voice to the voiceless. The station’s interviews allow individuals and groups in the settlements to make statements and send messages that reach far beyond the Rohingya refugee community. Its programs also tackle important issues like violence against women, and it also provides entertainment of the children in among the refugee, who comprise more than half of the population.

British Broadcast Corporation Media Action

Radio Naf is backed by the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC). BBC’s international development charity, BBC Media Action, has worked in conjunction with local Radio Naf employees—some of whom are refugees themselves—to analyze the issues and needs of the Rohingya refugees as told by the Rohingya refugees themselves.

The charity focuses its efforts on alleviating these specific problems, but it also shares all of its information with the United Nations, NGOs and governments working to mitigate the crisis. Through Rohingya refugee media, the people have the ability to make their voices thoroughly heard and get the message out to these organizations for swift and proper actions.

BBC backed Radio Naf has uncovered sanitary, financial, linguistic and logistic issues that continue to persist in the Rohingya refugee camps while sharing crucial necessities and calls to action to key players in the relief, which has been the focus of Radio Naf and its interviews. But, in order to bring about progress, this hope must be met with an eagerness to hear their voices and act on those issues.

Rohingya refugee media is an essential component to connecting refugees and working to alleviate some of the pain and misfortune that they have lived through. It has developed a platform for the spread of hope. This hope, after even a year into the crisis, echoes from community to community, from settlement to settlement.

– Julius Long
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents ArgentinaMost of the media coverage surrounding Argentina has dealt with the country’s economic struggles, its crime rate, and, following the recent World Cup, its soccer team. The misrepresentation of Argentina by the media is evident due to the fact that negative coverage far outweighs the positive, giving the public a one-dimensional perception of this South American country.

More than a Soccer Nation

Beyond the financial crisis, much of the recent media coverage regarding Argentina has centered around the country’s World Cup run. Soccer is an immense source of national pride and a beacon of hope for many Argentinian fans, particularly during hard economic times. But soccer, while deeply engrained within the national fabric and heavily covered by the media, represents just one aspect of the diverse nation.

Portraying Economic Crisis in the Country

Argentina’s economy has far from met the expectations associated with market-friendly President Mauricio Macri. The value of the Argentine peso plummeted in April, resulting in a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. This, coupled with high inflation, has brought persistent economic hardship to the country and poses a serious threat to Macri’s “zero poverty” campaign promise.

Much of the media coverage surrounding Argentina has focused heavily on the economic crisis and the crime associated with it. While the crisis is prevalent and a resolution is much needed, the rampant and disproportionate coverage of the crisis goes to show just how the media misrepresents Argentina. In doing so, the media taint the perception of the country and fails to portray the true image of Argentina, one of an improving economic and social condition.

Economic and Social Progress

In 2017, poverty in Argentina decreased by 4.6 percent and is currently at 25.7 percent, according to official estimates. Prior to the Macri presidency, transparency about Argentina’s poverty was scarce. The publishing of official statistics only began in 2016, after being halted by the former populist government in 2013. Macri has not only strived for zero poverty, but he has established the proper balances to hold his administration accountable, something that was not the case for Argentina’s recent past.

Macri has faced the delicate task of reducing Argentina’s poverty rate while also working to alleviate a large budget deficit incurred by prior administrations. Macri’s administration has focused on reducing this deficit with the help of the International Monetary Fund and the implementation of public-private partnerships. With private companies financing long-term infrastructure contracts, Argentina expects to attract $26.5 billion in investment by 2022, reducing pressure on the budget but also contributing to the fall in poverty through the creation of thousands of steady jobs.

The citizens of Argentina have also exhibited a strong commitment to social progress, pushing landmark legislation to the floor of Congress, the Senate and the offices of President Macri. However, media coverage of these events is brief if existing at all, failing to show a highly positive dimension of Argentina.

Justina’s Law

News that the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of National Congress) passed a grassroots piece of legislation that makes 44 million citizens organ donors was seldom reported. The official increase in donors will depend on how many citizens choose to opt out, but this legislation will undoubtedly ensure the survival of thousands of patients that are in need of organ transplantation. With the approval of this law, also called the Justina’s Law, Argentina would join the ranks of France and Netherlands in this landmark legislation.

While it is typical to hear for the negative aspects of Argentina’s economy and crime, the work being done to solve these issues or the positive impacts that the Argentine people themselves are having on their country is rarely discussed.

Though it may seem that the misrepresentation of Argentina in the media has little effect on the country’s economic and social outlook, this is far from the truth. Macri’s plan for foreign investment depends heavily on the perception of Argentina as a viable place for growth. The current administration’s commitment to accountability and poverty reduction, as well as social progress, show the world that the country is trending in the right direction.

– Julius Long

Photo: Flickr

BelarusThe Republic of Belarus is an Eastern European nation that boasts a free and universal education system, required for ages 6-14. Belarusian youth attend primary school from ages 6-9 and secondary school from 10-14, most remaining an additional 1.4 years until graduation. In Belarus, education is as accessible to girls as it is to boys.

Gender Discrimination in Society

Despite its accessibility, girls’ education in Belarus does not guarantee that girls will have the same opportunities as boys in adulthood. In 2016, the National Statistics Committee of the Republic of Belarus reported that women earned only 76.2 percent of the salary of men. In addition, many of the nation’s most profitable professions, namely in manufacturing, experience horizontal segregation with a majority of leadership positions being held by men regardless of female employees’ qualifications. This encourages high-skilled women to enter into low-wage public service jobs like education and health care, which are occupied almost exclusively by women.

The Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) and the Office for European Expertise and Communications (OEEC) attribute gender discrimination in Belarus to traditional, patriarchal notions that are ubiquitous throughout Belarusian society. These notions portray childbirth and motherhood as women’s greatest value and devalue the importance of their professional success.

The media, aspects of the compulsory education system, politicians and other government officials all contribute to the perpetuation of gender stereotypes. In a 2014 analysis, the OEEC describes the media in Belarus as “gender non-sensitive” and lacks an understanding of ideas concerning gender issues that they put out into their society. The ADC echoed these concerns in its 2016 report, pointing out that media outlets often refuse to acknowledge misbehavior when criticized for producing gender-biased content.

Gender Discrimination in Education

Belarusian schools, private and public, are at the will of the state and considered political bodies. The Education Code of the Republic of Belarus requires instruction in “the role and purpose of men and women in contemporary society.” Boys and girls attend separate classes to teach them their respective roles in society, reinforcing stereotypes rather than promoting individual development. Girls are instructed in matters of homemaking and boys are taught activities such as woodworking and carpentry.

In 2009, Deputy Education Minister Tatsiana Kavalyova highlighted the importance of ideology in schools, calling it “the backbone” of Belarusian education. According to Kavalyova, every educational institution in the country has an ideology department. As of 2009, the government has continued banning teachers and democratic activists in opposition to the government.

Government agencies have failed to enforce anti-discrimination legislation despite having signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration, among other U.N. documents that commit the country to working toward gender equality. As of 2012, 68 percent of government officials and politicians in control of these policies are men.

The OEEC found in 2014 that 86.6 percent of the general public viewed women’s lack of representation in politics as either the natural order of things or as a necessary consequence of their primary roles as wives and mothers. Some men in government have publicly expressed the same sentiment, claiming that “gender equality is perverting society,” that women are “apolitical by nature” or that they should “sit at home and make borscht, not roam around squares.” Yet, in the face of these challenges, there is promise that more progress will be made.

Hope for Girls’ Education in Belarus

The data that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has published paints girls’ education in Belarus in a favorable light. In the organization’s most recent statistics, Belarusian girls have consistently, if only slightly, come to surpass Belarusian boys in academia:

  • In 2015 and 2016, Belarusian girls had higher net enrollment rates in primary and secondary education. Rates for both girls and boys have steadily climbed from the low to high nineties since 2008, and the difference between boys and girls is less than one percentage point.
  • The 2015 transition rate from primary to secondary education was 0.34 percent higher for girls at 98.25 percent.
  • As of 2009, girls 15-24 years old have a 99.85 percent literacy rate, compared to the boys’ rate of 99.8 percent.
  • In 2016, 6,747 girls and 7,654 boys were out of school. Although these numbers fluctuate, there have been more boys out of school each year since 2010.
  • According to ADC’s 2016 report, 56.1 percent of women, compared to 43.9 percent of men, had a higher education.

With girls’ education in Belarus set firmly in place, NGOs have been able to focus on gaining gender equality in other ways. These organizations are able to focus their efforts on both preventing domestic violence and human trafficking and helping victims. Their work has also led to the National Scientific Research Institute of Labor’s development of a concept of gender equality and a gender assessment of current legislation by the National Center of Legislation and Legal Research.

One such NGO is Gender Perspectives, established in 2010. Gender Perspectives offers social, psychological and legal help to victims of domestic violence in Belarus, either directly or by referring them to other organizations and institutions. The organization created a hotline for victims in 2012, which responded to over four thousand calls in 2012 and 2013 and provided 117 with direct assistance.

In 2012, 54 women were selected for the National Assembly in 2012, which consists of 174 total delegates. Although they comprise only 32 percent and their admission was a result of a quota, women’s presence in the government offers hope that the state, with the help of NGOs, will establish gender equality that reaches beyond the sphere of education.

– Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Madagascar
The perpetual stereotype that surrounds Madagascar is that its population consists of very few people, an enormous number of animals and an increasing rate of poverty. In fact, the first page of a ‘Google Image’ search of Madagascar provides half a dozen photos of people and dozens of photos of lemurs and other animals. The ways the media misrepresents Madagascar creates a skewed image of this African country as a place populated mostly by animals and an increasing rate of poverty.

Pivot

Several organizations advocate for the population of Madagascar. One such organization, Pivot, has created a district in Madagascar called the Ifanadiana District, which focuses on providing health care benefits for Malagasy people. Its population is now 200,000.

The organization aims to transform Madagascar’s health system through rights-based care delivery, strengthened public systems and a new era of science guided by the needs of the poor. Before this organization was located in the Ifanadiana District, one in seven children died before age five. Patients also had to find and pay for all medicines and supplies before treatment.

However, there was a 19 percent decrease of under-five mortality after Pivot intervened. Pivot has built hospitals and provided vaccines and health care to enlighten the people of this impoverished country. Pivot has made an extraordinary difference to the country of Madagascar and will continue to do so until it’s health system has been completely transformed.

Halt Poverty

Halt Poverty is another organization working to reduce poverty in Madagascar. The group’s current crowdfunding campaign is to support the building of a provision of safe water in vulnerable households surrounding areas of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. The endeavor will only cost $2,945 to serve 200 people safe water, or $14.98 per person.

Halt Poverty uses adventure tourism to advocate for the support of poverty reduction in Madagascar. By exploring the natural landscapes and villages of this country, people are able to see the nation as it truly is. These tourists will support the local economy, protect the environment, respect the local culture and participate in poverty reduction.

These programs offer a deeper cultural insight than the one offered by tourism. Over the course of the trip, tourists will get a deeper intercultural understanding of Madagascar and gain exposure to volunteer opportunities that reduce poverty.

Reality of Madagascar

The media misrepresents Madagascar by portraying the nation as an impoverished country lacking in aid from poverty-reduction organizations, but this is not the reality. Although Madagascar experiences immense poverty, the poverty rate has actually decreased in the past couple of years.

In fact, the poverty rate decreased from 77.6 percent to 72 percent between 2012 and 2018. The World Bank reported that the Malagasy economy has been gradually improving ever since the return to legal order in 2014. Since 2016, the economic growth rate in the nation exceeded 4 percent. With trends such as these, one can see that Madagascar is improving in terms of its economy and poverty at a fairly quick rate.

On the Horizon

Although Madagascar is misrepresented in the media, there is, in fact, a great deal being done to give Malagasy people a better life. However, the misrepresentation of this country in the media has caused its issues to remain predominantly unknown.

The combined efforts of organizations like Pivot and Halt Poverty suggest improvements in tourism, health systems, poverty reduction and ultimately, a brighter future for Madagascar, are on the horizon.

– Megan Maxwell
Photo: Pixabay

How the Media Misrepresents South SudanAccording to most of the international media coverage, the situation in South Sudan is hopeless. When it became the 54th country to join The African Union on July 11, 2011, there was hope that the decades of violence and poverty that had plagued the southern end of Sudan would become a memory. But, two years into South Sudan’s formation, a civil war broke out between the country’s two most powerful politicians–President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar. The war has been ongoing.

How the Media Misrepresents South Sudan

Despite the problems that plague South Sudan, there has also been a lot of good news coming out of the country; however, the public rarely hears about it. This is because of how the media misrepresents South Sudan. The international media is more likely to focus on the tragic than on the uplifting.

Most outlets have not covered the all-woman police unit from Rwanda that was just sent to South Sudan as part of The U.N. peacekeeping mission or American actress Ashley Judd’s recent visit to a maternity hospital in a U.N. camp in the country to empower women who have been victims of sexual assault. Instead, the media misrepresents South Sudan by pumping out stories that resort to a familiar narrative: tribal groups fighting and killing one another.

Often, articles are filled with stereotypes and simplistic generalizations. For much of the world, the only representation or knowledge of the Sudanese is of suffering. For example, one recent article in The Guardian is titled: “Born out of Brutality, South Sudan, the World’s Youngest State, Drowns in Murder, Rape and Arson.” The problem with this type of language is that it can make the reader feel helpless, unable to enact change.

Sensational headlines also dehumanize the people behind the images. While the horrors that the South Sudanese are facing must be recognized, it is equally important to acknowledge the moments of hope, the small victories and the people who are trying to rebuild their lives amid the chaos and violence. Here are two recent events in South Sudan that many people haven’t heard about due to how the media misrepresents South Sudan.

Two Important Positive Events That Took Place in South Sudan

On June 28, President Salva Kiir sat down at the capital with his former vice-president and the country’s largest rebel group leader, Riek Machar. It was their first meeting in two years. After five years of civil war, they announced a permanent cease-fire. While the ceasefire agreement has not been altogether effective, (fighting resumed soon after it was implemented), this agreement has other benefits that can help the South Sudanese people.

Most importantly, the agreement allows humanitarian aid to resume, which has slowed in recent years in part due to the fact that South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an aid worker. The U.N. Humanitarian Response is calling for 1.72 billion in aid for South Sudan in 2018. As of July, donor countries have already contributed $706 million.

In May, over 200 children were released by armed groups in Pibor County, Jonglei, bringing the total number of children released up to 806 since the beginning of 2018. Many of these children were child soldiers who are now receiving medical and psychological care. It is expected the in the upcoming months that more than 1,000 children will be released.

Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, said that “Every time a child is released and able to return to their family, it’s a source of great hope – hope for their future and for the future of the country.” The challenge now is how to reintegrate these children into civilian life and create opportunities for them to succeed in an unstable country with limited employment and educational opportunities.

Ignoring or glossing over the good news is a good example of how the media misrepresents South Sudan. And in doing so, the media fails to acknowledge hopeful events like the two listed above that may lead to peace. In the coming months, it will become apparent whether or not Kiir and Machar’s agreement holds any weight. Regardless of the result, fair media coverage of these events along with coverage on the way people are making a difference in the country is crucial to the public’s understanding of what is going on in the country.

– Evann Orleck-Jetter
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents AngolaHow the media misrepresents Angola, a country located in Southern Africa, can be answered in its portrayal of the country as a postwar nation infested with mines, HIV epidemic and yellow fever outbreaks.

Despite the problems, the country is at the beginning of a hopeful transition after the recent 2017 elections and many organizations have partnered up with the government to provide aid.  

Post-War Effects

In 1997, Princess Diana brought the world’s attention to the war-stricken Angola. She visited mine-infested areas in an effort to advocate their removal. Mines from about 22 countries lie under various regions in Angola now.

The civil war that lasted for 27 years took the lives of 1.5 million people. Unfortunately, the town of Cuito Cuanavale still lives with the constant reminder of those horrific days as the villagers nearby are exposed to an 18-mile area covered in active mines. 

HIV Epidemic

UNAIDS reported in 2016 that HIV remains a challenge in Angola as 130,000 adults have died as a result of it, while 90,204 people are receiving treatment for the disease. HIV is the third cause of death in Angola.

Yellow Fever Scare

In 2016 the outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, in Angola took the lives of 376 people. Angola had not seen such an outbreak in the last 30 years.

Successful Partnerships

The Halo Trust, UNAIDS and UNICEF are examples of what happens when organizations partner up with the government to create successful outcomes for its citizens. Angola has been able to recover from a history of debilitating conflicts because of these partnerships.

  • The Halo Trust

Angola aims to eliminate all its mines by 2025 and The Halo Trust, a humanitarian organization that was created in 1988, is helping them achieve it.

Thanks to their efforts, Huambo province will soon be a mine-free area. The organization has already eliminated a total of 95,000 landmines in Angola.

It uses drone technology to research areas that cannot be accessed due to active mines and help map out the affected rural regions.

Cutato village is a successful example of its efforts as people now have access to schools and clinics. They are even able to do simple housework such as washing clothes in the river as the area is mine-free.

They also receive help from the US Department of State, that has given about 124 million dollars in aid to clear the postwar areas of Angola since 1993.

  • United Nations HIV Aid

Another fact about how the media misrepresents Angola is the stigma of HIV that Africa carries in the global scenario.

However, UNAIDS, a UN partner organization that leads the HIV battle in African countries is changing that. In Angola, where 260,000 adults live with HIV, education is the only way to decrease the number of HIV cases.

The youth in Angola are sexually active as early as 15 years old, however, only 51 percent of males know that the use of condoms prevents HIV spread.

For this reason, a comprehensive sexuality education program was implemented in schools and communities in Angola to raise awareness of HIV prevention. 3,000 teachers have been trained to reach out to Angolans with UNAIDS funds so far.

UNAIDS also has a 30 million dollar HIV grant for the years 2017 and 2018 to keep working in the fight against AIDS in Angola.

  • UNICEF’s Yellow Fever Action Plan

“While many children cry when they receive the vaccine, Isabel grins from ear to ear,” reported UNICEF from the town of Cacuso when the 10-year-old girl rejoiced at getting her yellow fever vaccine in 2016.

The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Yellow Fever Control partnered up with UNICEF and provided 20 million vaccines to fight Angola’s yellow fever outbreak in 2016.

The numbers keep getting better as 16 million people out of a population of 25 million people in Angola are now protected against yellow fever. Communication is the key to the success of this type of program as UNICEF trained 3,000 people to educate communities about the viral disease.

 

Despite the long period of wars that hindered the country’s growth for decades, now it is the time for doable action plans to change how the media represents Angola.

Angola has a slow recovery ahead from its devastating civil war but the future is bright if its leaders put in the same amount of effort as these organizations to address its challenges.

– Nijessia Cerqueira
Photo: Google

how the media misrepresents MoroccoMorocco lies in the west of North Africa and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of California. The country is both scenic and fertile with the Atlantic Ocean to its west and the Mediterranean Sea to its north. It’s in how the media misrepresents Morocco, a country with a great history, that much of its beauty is lost.

As of 2015, Morocco is the fifth richest country in Africa. Since it is one of the most visited countries, it generates two-thirds of its GDP through tourism and telecommunications.

Media Misrepresents Morocco

How the media misrepresents Morocco, however, is through the depiction of its people’s faith, geographic location and traditionalism. An astonishing 98 percent of the country’s population are Muslims. They follow Islam—a religion that has a history of conflict and controversy with the Western world. Since September 11, 2001, the Western media has continuously exposed the wrongdoings of the Muslim faith causing further tension.

Moreover, Morocco is also an African nation, which, given the continent’s history of mass poverty, has only added to the media’s bias.

Finally, about 24 percent of the population is the Arabized Imazighen and about 21 percent are Imazighen—a community of people who are descendants of an Afro-Asiatic family which directly descends from the ancient Egyptians. The Imazighen are strictly traditional and often live in Morocco’s mountainous regions to preserve their language and culture.

An example of how the media misrepresents Morocco is how it has depicted the country as an ‘unjust’ and ‘unfair’ nation. One such report came from Freedom House’s 2015 report on journalism, which ranked Morocco lower than other nations which have a history of violence with reporters although it does not have a history of violence.

It is true, that in essence, the Qur’an is the source of law, however, Morocco does have a French-inspired legal code. After the legal system was met with pressures from Moroccan women for a more balanced system, in 2004 the parliament issued a more liberal and balanced legal code.

Constitutional Monarchy in Morocco

The country is headed by a constitutional monarchy, which shares its power with the parliament. The monarch does have power over religious affairs, the country’s armed forces and the national security policy. The monarch also has the power to choose the prime minister.

The monarch’s political affiliation and power have been a subject of much controversy and debate—particularly in the last 30 years. Nevertheless, the Moroccans have voted in favor of this system, though they did vote to expand the parliament’s power in 2011.

Modernization in Morocco

Another aspect of how the media misrepresents Morocco is that it seems to ignore how the country is rapidly modernizing. It instead capitalizes on how Morocco has kept much of its ancient architecture and customs. The Western media reports the country to be “stuck in its ways” and “archaic” but ignores how it has tried to promote women’s equality, human rights, religious tolerance and social liberalization while upholding its Islamic heritage.

Morocco has seen much migration and urbanization of its communities. Its standard of living is also rapidly increasing. In fact, it is the most visited African nation with 10.3 million tourists in 2016 alone.

Battling Malnutrition in Morocco

While one-third of Morocco experiences malnutrition, the government is actively trying to better the living conditions of those affected. For instance, in 1999 the Moroccan government set up a loan fund to help small businesses grow. In 2017, the government provided its impoverished communities with electricity and piped water.

Morocco, in fact, is one of the few Arab nations which could be self-sufficient in food production. It can produce two-thirds of the grains necessary for domestic consumption in a year. Morocco is trying to capitalize on this by attempting to use its great potential in hydroelectric power.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr

Documentaries For Expanding Your WorldviewDocumentaries are unique in that they provide a compassionate, immersive experience for the viewer — something that a news story often does not provide. In recent years, documentaries have become a method of awareness and education in the growing media industry. While documentaries shown in the United States are often focused on domestic issues, there are also many films dedicated to places and issues overseas that provide an educational, artistic and fascinating look into the world. Here are 5 documentaries for expanding your worldview.

5 Documentaries For Expanding Your Worldview

  1. For the Love of Water (Flow): “Flow is an eye-opening, troubling 90 minutes that makes us think twice about an element we take for granted” — The Boston Globe. For the Love of Water is a 2008 documentary by Irena Salina focused on the world’s most precious resource — water. Salina exposes the politics of the water industry and privatization, along with the concerns of pollution and human rights tied into the broken system which turns water from a basic human right to a source of power for those who control it as an economic resource. Through interviews with experts and scientists, who share the goal of creating a world of equality through grassroots organizations and new technologies, Salina creates a haunting portrait of a world without access to water — a world we already live in.
  2. Fire At Sea: “Fire at Sea occupies your consciousness like a nightmare, and yet somehow you don’t want it to end” — NYT critic review. Fire at Sea, winner of the Best Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016, paints a moving picture of an ongoing European humanitarian crisis. Focusing on Lampedusa, a small island south of Sicily, director Gianfranco Rosi documents the migrant crisis as refugees from Africa and the Middle East cross the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Stark and bleak as it may be, Rosi’s style provides audiences with an educational and artistic view into a world and life many do not yet understand.
  3. The White Helmets: “The picture that emerges is the reality of living through this intractable and unbalanced conflict, bringing home the scale of the international community’s failure” — The Nation. The Netflix short documentary, The White Helmets, follows three volunteer rescue workers of an organization of the same name in Aleppo, Syria and Turkey. Directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel, The White Helmets highlights the power of those dedicated to saving and protecting the lives of citizens affected by the war. An Oscar winner in 2016 for Best Documentary Short, this film provides insight to not only the current situation in Syria, but to the heroes risking their lives for the safety of others.
  4. City of Ghosts: “City of Ghosts isn’t merely about the personal sacrifices of these men, but a testament to the necessity of a free and open press the world over” — Arizona Republic. The widely nominated documentary City of Ghosts takes an in-depth look at ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,’ a citizen journalist collective in Syria. This group is dedicated to exposing the atrocities and human rights violations committed by the terrorist group ISIS. Director Matthew Heinman follows the group as they face the dangers of activism and protest in an era of silence (Rated R for violence).
  5. Why Poverty Series: The Why Poverty series is a collection of 8 documentaries and 34 short films focused on a variety of issues across a global scale. Created by The Why Foundation — a Denmark based organization focused on educating and broadening the horizons of the world’s population through a global outreach campaign — the Why Poverty series aired across 180 countries on networks such as BBC and PBS. Poor Us, one of the 8 documentaries, is an animated film on the history of poverty. Director Ben Lewis covers 10,000 years of history in just 58 minutes, from hunter-gather food insecurity to industrial revolution laborers to the poverty plaguing so many people, even in the 21st century. This film encapsulates the question The Why Foundation poses with their series — why, with the world’s resources and advancements in science and medicine, does nearly half the world’s population still live in poverty?

Fostering Awareness, One Show At A Time

These five documentaries for expanding your worldview will provide a deeper understanding of the issues faced in the 21st century.

Filmmakers dedicated to exposing the world to both issues and those fighting to make the world a better place provide a perspective that many news outlets cannot.

– Anna Lally
Photo: Google

Mass Media in Developing CountriesRadio, newspapers, television, Internet, social media, etc., all of these are forms of mass media. Each of these outlets has the capability of bringing information to thousands of people with one device. While in some communities it is easy to take advantage of these communication outlets such as television and Internet access, not everyone has access to such outlets.

Radio is one of the most common forms of mass media in developing countries because it’s affordable and uses less electricity than many other forms of mass media, but only approximately 75 percent of people in developing countries have access to a radio, and roughly 77 percent of people in rural areas have access to electricity.

For developing countries that have implemented forms of mass media in their communities, there have been numerous positive outcomes. Here are five positive impacts of mass media in developing countries.

  1. Brings people together- With implementing mass media in societies in Tunisia and Egypt, citizens were able to reach out to each other through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and create, organize and initiate street protests and campaigns. Furthermore, having access to social media in developing countries, people are able to connect to those that they usually wouldn’t have the chance to talk to.
  2. Provides educational opportunities- In many countries, the division between local and national languages as well as issues of literacy can make communication difficult. With the use of mass media, a bridge can be built between these two gaps. In India, there is a radio station that provides information in local languages and respects local culture and traditions.
  3. Watchdog for the public interest- Media is the watchdog for public interest in many ways. One of the main ways is to create public awareness of what is going on with businesses and government officials. The media plays an important role in giving people the opportunity to act against injustice, oppression and misdeeds that they otherwise wouldn’t know about.
  4. Information on available healthcare- In Burkina Faso, a mass radio broadcast was sent out encouraging parents to seek treatment at local healthcare facilities for their sick children. With this mass outreach on healthcare, the encouragement of people to take their children to healthcare facilities saved thousands of lives. This easy way of encouraging others and bringing awareness about certain diseases was made possible through a simple radio broadcast.
  5. Brings social issues to life- Similar to “watchdogging”, media brings many social issues to life that otherwise would remain unknown to many people. In developing countries and communities like Burkina Faso, when the radio broadcast was released about malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia, people were educated and moved to action and knew to take their children to healthcare facilities for preventative care.

As it is seen, having access to different media outlets is vital for those in developing countries. Here are three ways that those in developing countries can implement mass media to help their people and communities.

  1. Provide radios or newspapers in public places- By providing radios and newspapers in public areas it gives community members to access news, information and emergency warnings. Even though radios can be on the cheaper side, there are still many people that can’t afford to have a radio in their home. By providing one in a local place, not only would it better educate the community members but also it will bring the community together.
  2. Have the community involved in sharing the news- When making individual communities responsible for providing their own news it not only makes them independent and proud of the work that they are putting out but it also has a positive effect on local economies. The media can provide many jobs that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.
  3. Make media outlets a two-way platform- Creating a two-way platform between the community and those who are behind the radio stations, newspapers or broadcasts makes the community feel involved and that their voices are being heard. An organization called Soul City in sub-Saharan Africa is showing how well two-way platforms work by engaging their listeners and having them contribute thoughts and ideas about complex issues.

Whether through radio or cell phones, forms of mass media are constantly being used to inform, educate and strengthen people all over the world whether they be in urban or rural communities.

One easy way to help gain access to mass media in developing countries is to reach out to government officials in the United States. Click here to email U.S. Senators about The Digital GAP Act and ask them to give first-time access to mobile or broadband Internet to 1.5 million people in developing countries by 2020.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Media Misrepresents Papua New Guinea
Western media often sensationalizes the unknown, and the country of Papua New Guinea – just over 90 miles north of Australia – has undoubtedly fallen victim of media sensationalism and stereotyping. The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea as a country with no development, little civilization and stereotypes the entire country as primitive and poor.

While a majority of the country is rural, Papua New Guinea is a developing economy with a steadily growing urban population, and the diverse population of the country is working to create a different image of Papua New Guinea in Western media.

Economic Growth

The economy of Papua New Guinea is heavily dependent on industry, mining and agriculture, notably timber, fish, coffee, cocoa and rubber. Agriculture currently accounts for 25 percent of GDP and supports more than 80 percent of the population. The media often disregards Papua New Guinea as a country with extremely little economic growth.

However, this is a misrepresentation of the country since the economy is continuing to develop and offer more people the opportunity to make more money. In addition, export opportunities from increased mineral and energy extraction have offered more trade and economic influx in the country.

The GDP of Papua New Guinea has experienced some of the highest growth in the world, largely due to energy extraction sector developments. In 2015, the GDP experienced 10.5 percent growth and has continued to steadily increase at a rate of two percent since then. The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea by stereotyping the country to have no real economic change; in reality, Papua New Guinea is beginning to develop more rapidly.

Urbanization

The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea as being stuck in the forest with little desire and opportunity to urbanize. While urbanization has been a challenge in Papua New Guinea due to the extremely dense forest and lack of infrastructure, this developing economy has led to more attention to urbanization.

The media, though, does not discuss such large strides towards infrastructure development. The World Bank’s Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project has restored more than 800 kilometers of national roads and plans to continue with its reparations. In addition, rehabilitated and replaced bridges have benefitted an estimated 1.3 million people, or about 27 percent of the population.

While a majority of the population lives in rural areas of the country, globalization and the development of cities like Lae and the capital Port Moresby have led to an increase in urbanized population in Papua New Guinea. In 1960, only 3.75 percent of the population lived in urban areas of the country; contrastingly, approximately 13 percent of the population lived in urbanized areas in 2016.

Diversity

The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea as a nation lacking diversity and constantly at war between a handful of tribes. In reality, the country is extremely ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse. Although only 7 million people live in Papua New Guinea, the country’s 820 languages spoken give it the world’s highest level of language diversity.

In addition to language isolates, English and English-based languages like Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin are commonly spoken between people throughout the country. Tok Pisin, an English Creole, is understood by over 50 percent of the population, and English is a lingua franca.

While there are thousands of tribes in Papua New Guinea, the media misrepresents the ways in which tribes interact with one another. Most tribes actually work together and are peaceful with each other, and showcase this annually through gatherings that emphasize the nation’s diversity called Sing Sings.

During Sing Sings, like in Mount Hagen or Goroka, as many as 100 different tribal groups come together to practice their different cultures, and the custom has continued for more than 60 years as a way to promote peaceful interactions between tribes.

A New Perspective

Although Papua New Guinea is a poor and largely undeveloped country, the media misrepresents and misconstrues the country as a lawless, tribal jungle with little economic growth and even less diversity. Despite this common perception, the economy of Papua New Guinea continues to grow — they’ve experienced a remarkable improvement in GDP, urbanization and globalization have catalyzed development within even rural areas of the country, and tribes in the country are largely peaceful and extremely diverse.

As a country whose motto is “Unity and Diversity,” Papua New Guineans have utilized their diverse cultural and physical landscape to make positive changes in their country. Now, it’s up to the media and the world to truly understand all that Papa New Guinea is and can be.

– Matthew Cline
Photo: Flickr