More airtime please
This is good. This is what more media need to do. More media need to devote precious space or time to promoting a cause.
I know, there is a danger. The danger is that they will choose to promote a partisan cause, a contentious cause or, worse, a divisive cause. But I think there are some causes which are, by now, evidence-laden or universal enough that we cannot renounce them. One such cause is slavery. Do elephants own one another? Do birds? What gives us the right to own a human being? I thought the feudal lights had been turned off a few centuries back.
But I am not here to debate slavery, I am here to shower praise on any medium that devotes genuine time to a cause; I mean genuine time. Sure, some organizations have signed on to global initiatives such as the Global Media AIDS Initiative (www.thegmai.org). But how much time do they give to the cause? Look at their programming grids — I have — and you will see that they amount of time they devote to AIDS, or any other cause, is dwarfed by their commercial space. I know, they have to generate profit, they are, after all, private enterprise. But the ratio is absurd. There are 168 hours in a week. My analysis is informal and probably poorly informed, but I just looked over ten different programming grids, one in France, two in Italy, one in India and six in the United States. I am appalled. My informal, grossly approximated tally is a grand total of seven hours a week of what I think is public interest programming. That is not per station, that is the total.
Welcome to The CNN Freedom Project (http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/). Let me be clear, at this stage, all I have seen is their promotional spots. I have not seen any programming but the blog is up, they are fundraising and they seem to be throwing some money at the process. What we need now is a snowball. We need media to take up cancer, climate change, human rights and make it their own.
Let me turn back the clock to my own background. I have had the privilege of producing many public interest documentaries and public service announcements. Some were, in my humble opinion, pretty good. Climbing Everest is easier than getting them aired. Airing a public service program requires endless days of begging cold programmers who would rather shave their heads than give you space. Every time we would place a project on a single station we would celebrate. So for me, to see the media evolve to a point where they are willing to push the agenda, is marvelous.
Let’s see how far they will go…