Summary of exchanges on the discussion list in preparation for the Communications and Citizenship Workshop

2001-01-22 00:00:00

We have received various reflections and proposals on the list and also
via email. In all, four or five issues stand out.

ALAI approaches the issue from a human rights perspective and the fight
for democratization of communications. They cite the right to
communicate as a broadening of the right to information. The right to
communicate, which embraces all rights inthis field, is taking on a new
urgency in the present day context of current developments in technology
together with the increasing inbalance in the communications field.
ALAI referred to several citizen initiatives around the democratization
of communications which are attempting to place this issue firmly on the
agenda of the people.

Several contributions refer to the role of mainstream media in
developing a public consciousness, o inversely, in manipulating people.

Juan Gonzales of the Centre for the Promotion of Social Initiiatves in
Peru talked about the case in his country. President Fujimori, up until
his recent downfall, used the media in Peru to his own ends, sometimes
by exerting pressure, but also at other times with their consent. With
the downfall of Fujimori and Montesinos, suddenly overnight the media
are portraying themselves as ?democratic? defenders of the freedom of
the press, while avoiding reflecting critically on their previous role.

VivVer (Brazil), has told us that they are preparing some video material
to encourage reflections on the manipulation carried out by the media of
the general public during the commemorations for the 500 years of
colonization of Brazil in April 2000.

Another theme is communication and participation in local government.

Nadège Figarol (France) asked: ?What communications mechanism could be
used so that exchanges between all groups can be truely egalitarian?...
Who should set up communication mechanism? Elected officials? Partners??
She concludes that not just elected officials should be left in charge
of communications, because in this case, we run the risk of the
officials using the media to heighten their own profile and legitimize
their power. She asks how communications can allow citizens to actively
take part in public debate and not become simply spectators or consumers
of municipal activities.

Dialogue Public (France) thinks that ?this workshop should be an
opportunity to exchange experiences carried out at the international
level, in order to facilitate direct dialogue between the elected and
the electing citizens.

Another theme is citizen communications initiatives.

Joelle Palmieri, of les Pénéloppes (France) talked about the creation of
an international, independent, non-neoliberal media which places itself
at the service of citizens and in fact emerges from the people
themselves. Her proposal is based on the premise that access to
information is a right that should be free and not considered a
commodity. As editorial guidelines, she proposes themes absent in
traditional media: horizontal multimedia approaches, ?nomadic? media,
without borders, placed in the hands of those who make the content. Her
proposal is based on new technologies and the concept of an economy of

Julio Fermin of EFIP (Venezuela) refers to communication as a crucial
element needed to underpin alternative socioeconomic proposals and
policies from civil society. He believes that its not enough to reject
neoliberal policies but that there must be a focus on a future vision.
He points to communications as the way to ?strengthen and build new
points of reference?.

Finally, the issue of gender in communication was brought up by Joelle
Palmieri and Anne Guedheu Youmbi, of Cameroon. Anne is a representive
from the Association de Profesionelles Africaines de la Communication
(APAC), a network of women working in the media. Her association is
fighting for a more just and truthful representation of gender in media,
and against alienating publicity and images which degrade women. They
are working to improve conditions for professional women and for the
development of new communications technologies in Africa.