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Monday, September 20, 2010

Call to the Media

Mountain House (Photo: Martin Baumann)We, the participants at a conference in Caux, Switzerland, (July 2010,) dealing with the role of the media in creating a multicultural, inclusive community urge the media to restore the credibility and dignity of their profession.

We are living in a time of fundamental crisis, which is not only economic but a crisis of civilization itself.  This is the age of a pseudo-civilization of materialism, consumerism and hedonism. We are convinced that the media should play a crucial role in helping to find the way towards a new, enlightened civilization. In fact, without honesty, open mindedness and dedication to this cause in the media there is very little chance that we would emerge from this current global crisis.

To realize this goal, we need not only a strong community of citizens and a thriving democracy, but also a world of mutual respect and understanding. We are deeply convinced that without honest media, conscious of their proper mission, we will not be able to establish a new covenant in the world, and we will not succeed in creating a civilization of love, of respect for the dignity of the human person in all aspects.

The current crisis of the media is but a part of the global crisis. The media, however, can and must be a big part of the solution. By giving our citizens not only what they want, but what they need to exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities, we will help restore an authentic democracy. By going to the world, not only respecting the diversity, but rejoicing in it, not only tolerating the “other”, but trying to see reality through his/her eyes, not only promoting a dialogue between cultures, religions and communities, but also learning to get enriched by the values of others, the media will help us to move from a world of hatred and violence to a world of mutual understanding and peace.

We therefore call on the media not only to restore their own dignity but to embrace this new vision to help build a civilization of love and a world of peace.

1. Call to Action within the Media

We urge all media owners, publishers, producers and journalists to take the following steps to revive our faltering democracy and create a world based on intercultural  understanding and trust:

·         Bear in mind that readers/viewers are not only interested in problems, but also in solutions to problems.

·         Provide context and  in-depth analysis to help citizens reach a better understanding of the meaning of the news, and therefore of the world.

·         Seek out a diversity of voices, not only people representing institutions of power, but ordinary citizens from across the social and cultural spectrum.

·         Always keep in mind that profit, however important, is not  the main  goal of journalism.  We are a special trade. Media people are citizens and human beings are citizens and human beings, addressing other citizens and human being. Moreover, quality can bring profit.  It has been proven that quality sells.

·         Do not concentrate on bad news. Positive news may be even more interesting and certainly  more stimulating.

·         Stories about personal reform and transformation--for example, corrupt individuals who willingly make amendments for past wrongdoing and anti-social behaviour --should be highlighted and presented as linked to the public good.

·         Balance freedom of the media with respect for the religions, beliefs and identities of all.

·         Journalists should always conduct themselves in a respectful and ethical manner as they pursue their calling.

2.   Call to  Action on the part of Media Consumers

We, the participants  of a Caux media workshop, believe that citizens can also play an important role in improving the quality of the media.

 We want to empower the citizens of the world. You are decision makers. You have the choice to shape what the media feeds you. By choosing to read the honest newspaper and not the superficial one, or watching the serious TV programme and not the sensationalist one, you are making the call and deciding what the media will be.

 Citizens of the world, take a step to discuss the news with others- listen and share opinions. Ignorance is multicultural. But you have the power to be an informed citizen of  a multicultural world.

Broaden your horizons.  Get out of your comfort zone and look at alternatives. Another view/ angle is just a click away.

Demand honesty in the media. It’s your citizen’s right!