Towards a responsible media - a call for action
In the last 40 years, the communication world has exploded and has reached virtually every corner of society. But has it grown in responsibility? This is the question which challenged British publisher Bill Porter. In 1991, when attending a conference in the international centre of Initiatives of Change (IofC, then MRA) in Caux, Switzerland, he decided to launch a worldwide campaign, the International Communications Forum (ICF). Its purpose? Helping all who work in the media - leaders and the rank and file - to become fully aware of how their work and power affect the lives of billions of people. Since then twenty eight forums have been organized around the world in cities as varied as Nizhny-Novgorod, Melbourne, London, Denver, Cape Town and Sarajevo. The ICF has attracted the attention of world leaders in the media.
Before his death in 2009, Bill Porter passed the baton to our President, French journalist Bernard Margueritte. The men and women who have worked steadily with Bill Porter and Bernard Margueritte are reaching the age where one can no longer pretend to be young and creative. A new close-knit team is urgently needed to take the work of the ICF forward under Bernard's leadership.
Enhancing awareness of ethical standards in the media has an increasing urgency. Recent scandals in the press cruelly pinpoint the relevance of such a requirement But with the growth of dangerous tensions and conflicts around the world, whether economic, social, religious or cultural, another urgency faces the communications world: opening dialogue between communities that differ, reinforcing the mediation role of the media. The tools used by the media may have changed with the development of digital technology, but their essential mission remains the same. It is, more than ever, to empower the citizen to be a pillar of democracy and at the same time to respect and understand the “other”, be it the other country, the other person, the other religion, ways of life, problems, dreams, etc.
If we hope to get out of the worldwide crisis of civilization we are in, we require a living democracy and a greater cooperation of people of good will around the world. The ICF vision is that this can be achieved only with the help of the media and only if the people of the media are faithful to their fundamental mission. Never has an honest media, nor the fight for media dedicated to serve the citizen, society and the world, been more needed.
We are addressing a call to the growing number of motivated individuals who would feel a readiness, or better a conviction, to tackle the ICF's work among the media for the next five years. What is this work, and what help are we seeking? We have a track record of successful conferences, and we have invitations to continue with these around the world, in particular in Africa; we have organised workshops in schools of journalism on media ethics, and have the potential to extend this programme; we have plans to develop exchanges of articles or even journalists themselves between antagonizing factions or countries. The size of the challenge however calls for new imaginative, explorative and executive action. Within this strategic frame, many skills are needed. The first of these will be money raising. Financing is of course a major challenge, but we believe that when the issue is to fill a definite objective to serve society, it can be found. Secondly administrative talent. We need individuals with time and dedication able to deliver our projects successfully.
ICF Executive Committee:
Bernard Margueritte, Hugh Nowell), Jean-Jacques Odier, Mike Smith, Robin Williamson
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