Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Developing countries and the media

I shall allow myself the liberty of going slightly off the usual subjects. I was reading the very interesting Developments magazine, produced for DFID, on the train the other morning. One article which caught my eye described training film makers in Kenya to make films on environmental issues in a way that would catch the attention of Kenyan villagers or school children. These are short films, involving and made by local people, different from documentaries or conservation films made by people visiting the country. The project, funded by the Darwin Initiative, involves Dr David Harper of Leicester's Department of Biology.

The other thing on a related topic concerns TV coverage of developing countries, a report commissioned by the CBA-DFID Broadcast Media Scheme and the International Broadcasting Trust. It found: news coverage of developing countries is limited and may often involve voices from outside, not inside the country. People may not watch documentaries, but they may read novels that change their perception. TV dramas (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is mentioned) may be presented as rather "soft" and "Sunday night", but programmes like Long Way Down and Top Gear may present a rather more realistic and full portrayal of developing countries - I do remember being very taken with the Long Way Down programme that took Ewan Macgregor and Charlie Boorman through Ethiopia. There is more about the report here.

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