This article was published by MediaGlobal News on April 19, 2012 but is no longer available on their website. It has been copied below.
NEW YORK - “The media” is often presented as a monolithic, vaguely sinister entity that is as likely to exacerbate conflicts as it is resolve them. The United Nations Alliance for Civilizations (UNAOC) however, has confidence in the media’s ability to favorably shape global public opinion and policy.
“We come from the side that says media can have a strong and positive influence in increasing understanding, and that is the philosophical grounding from which we do our work,” said Danish Masood, UNAOC’s Media and Partnerships Manager.
Passionately, Masood spoke of access to information as the bedrock of society, "not unlike air and water." In spite of the challenges of filtering the glut of information, he asserted that information is more fundamental than ever to the functioning of democracy, given the unprecedented levels of global interconnectivity.
UNAOC’s Media Literacy Education Project Manager Jordi Torrent explained how raw information is not knowledge without context, a process facilitated by media and information literacy. He further elaborated that media education – the tool enabling the transformation of information into knowledge -essentially relies on cultivating best practices of media production.
Illustrating UNAOC’s efforts to foster such best practices, Torrent presented a selection of award-winning videos created by nine to 25-year olds from around the world for the annual Plural+ Festival, led by UNAOC and the International Organization for Migration. In explaining the impetus for Plural+, Torrent remarked, “We speak a lot about youth and their constant media activity; we know they are constantly making videos, but how often to do we see youth media on television?”
Plural+ encourages short videos (5 minutes or less) focusing on migration, diversity, and social inclusion that appeal to a sense of shared human experience. As one teen in the 2011 video entitled “I believe” put it, “It’s not enough to be tolerant, we must appreciate and celebrate our diversity.”
Award-winners receive professional development opportunities and international exposure through Plural+. The hope is that the positive messages conveyed by these talented young filmmakers begin to attract audience beyond their close friends who follow them on youTube.
The essential message of the evening was clear: the voices of the youth, representing the majority in many regions, can be powerful agents of social change and must be part of the public discourse. In light of so much cynicism about “the media,” it was refreshingly hopeful.
Featured videos were all award-winning films at the 2011 Plural+ Festival.