Gates & The Media: Propping up the collapse
October 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
The news that the Gates Foundation have now done a deal with ABC in the US and the BBC is really interesting. I for one, welcome increased coverage on development. The foreign / Africa based coverage is on its knees with CNN – despite their excellent editor Kim Norgaard – unable to cover stories out of S Africa and Nigeria. The Guardian now often ask for costs to be covered for stories to be printed, such as this one here http://bit.ly/b56uvi was underwritten by the Global Campaign for Education. Coverage on development is really important to give people a rounded view of the world and we wrote a report on this recently that shows that the “foreign world” of coverage is now shrinking dramatically. W Africa and Latin America appear like exotic rare creatures on British TV, and are even rarer in many other parts of the world. Providing a rich area of information on these issues while the media’s business model suffers is helpful. However does this mean that it leads to:
- All development news to be in the margins of a niche site rather than in foreign / political which is where more influential audiences reside
- Would it be better – like the Girl Effect now no longer sponsored by Nike – for this to be seen as not having a heavy stamp from the BMGF on it so it has more credibility than “assumed advertorial” and give sites kudos for such investment.
This is a good / rounded exit strategy for Katine for The Guardian and not many other organisations could afford to do this. With a trend now set, should INGOs now look to consider “buying” The Independent’s for a £1 to get is message out or bailing out Le Monde’s foreign pages as a more cost effective comms model.
Will INGO multi-media press officers become the new journalists, should INGOs rethink themselves as media organisations in their own right.
At Oxfam we had 20 press officers which may now be bigger than many newsrooms these days.
Being timid, relying on the trusted and being too busy to change is a trap that so many press offices – no matter how talented – fall into. Media departments should be considered in the same light as programmes, comms needs to sit up front in an organisation and be free to innovate and challenge old habits. Rather than relying on the machine to print the news, machines should be built in house and with the Gates Foundation taking the lead, others need to move quickly. The landscape is now changing very quickly.