Video Volunteers (VV) envisions a world in which all disadvantaged communities have their own locally relevant and locally produced media that celebrates their culture, voices grassroots concerns, and stimulates dialog to find solutions to endemic problems.
Our mission is to empower the world’s poorest citizens to right the wrongs they witness by becoming players in the global media revolution. Providing disadvantaged communities with the journalistic, critical thinking and creative skills they need, VV’s models for locally-owned and managed media production teach people to articulate and share their perspectives on the issues that matter to them – on a local and a global scale.
Statement of need
Globalization’s greatest revolution could be in communications. However, access, format, and content continue to exclude the poor in developing countries from participation in both the production and meaningful consumption of media and the purposes it serves: to inform and inspire discussion, debate, and solutions to problems.
Mainstream media in the developing world doesn’t give the poor the information they need, and it largely excludes their voices from its dialogue. Widespread illiteracy (30% in India) bars the utility of print publications (which also generally fail to address issues relevant to the poor), and often there is no TV. The internet – the great equalizer in the west – also requires literacy. Without information, the poor have no way to fight corruption or hold local elected officials accountable.
Lack of access to training in technologies and basic journalistic skills prevents the poor from producing their own stories. Globally, very few stories from rural and undeveloped areas actually make their way to broadcast in the global media. Locally, communities lack platforms to share ideas and find solutions.
The absence of a functional cost-effective system that disseminates perspectives and stories from poor rural areas to government or the mainstream media continues to exclude the voices of the poor majority from policy-making about global poverty in forums from national government to the UN, leaving the policy makers unable to benefit from the knowledge of the people they mean to help and the poor unable to advocate for themselves.
Most development and aid programs are still “top down” and so don’t result in lasting change. One of the reasons there is relatively little community-led development is that hardly any investment is made in the “minds” of the poor – in the critical thinking, public speaking, debate and leadership training that is critical if communities are to come up with their locally-imagined solutions to their problems. The poor must have a voice and access to information if they are to fight corruption, exercise their franchise, advocate for themselves with authority, and participate as equal members in the global media dialog.
Video Volunteers’ programs address all of the above issues.
Theory of Change
Social change in the developing world today needs to be more bottom-up rather than top-down. Communications processes and voice are the central underlying factor that must be in place in order for any bottom-up development to take place because only if there is dialog can people come up with and take ownership of different solutions.
Voice is a human right, and people also have the right to speak directly rather than be spoken for.
The mainstream media is powerful and is the lens through which we see the world. So therefore, if we want to change the way people think we must change the way the media operates. Community media can become a global movement today because of the cost of technology and the ease of distribution, which presents the possibility, for the first time in history, that the needs and knowledge of the poor can be heard on a massive scale.
An informed citizenry with access to a free and representative media is necessary to the proper functioning of a democracy. Developing community media is a vital way to highlight concerns of people in developing countries, allowing the poorest citizens to advocate on their own behalf.