background preloader

Communicating Complexity

Facebook Twitter

Do aid agencies skew the debate? Framing news in Africa – how journalists approach stories and reinforce stereotypes – By Keith Somerville. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, organiser of the In Amenas hostage-taking, is a useful framing device for journalists in the growth of the War on Terror narrative in Mali. Having worked as a journalist for 33 years and having taught journalism and analysed the processes and performance of journalism for the last five, it is very revealing watching and analysing the development of major stories. There have been two dominant ones in the news about Africa over the past couple of weeks – the Mali conflict and the Pistorius-Steenkamp murder hearings.

Each in their way tell us things about the way journalists work, in general, and in relation to Africa, in particular. One of the basic ways of looking at how news is reported, about how journalists select and represent events, personalities, countries, regions and continents, is through the idea of ‘framing’. A frame for a story is a simple way of looking at what is included in the story, as in the phrase, “who/what is in the frame”. How do we communicate global poverty?

11/03/2012 at 3:51 pm By Hans Zomer One of the easiest ways of getting people in the “Development” sector to agree, is to start a conversation blaming “the media” for their misrepresentation of global development issues. (Just have a look at the debate about the hugely popular “Kony 2012” video.) It is easy, as most NGO workers feel passionately about their work and fail to understand why the rest of the world doesn’t share their passion.

Anyone concerned about global Development should invest some time and energy in this issue, as the way we communicate about poverty and development may well be the greatest challenge our sector faces. Here in Ireland, support for overseas aid remains remarkably high. But some would argue that this support is “a mile wide but an inch deep”. A few years ago, Irish NGOs agreed a Code of Conduct on Images and Messages, in an effort to reduce the stereotyping and simplifications that often come with the competitive nature of NGO fundraising. Like this: Creatively Communicating Complex Ideas. Dochas C-Cubed On 3 May 2012, IDEA and Dóchas hosted C(cubed), a conference about engaging the public on development issues.

The conference aimed to discuss strategies used by Irish NGOs/Development Education organisations in engaging the public in the complex issues of global poverty, development and overseas aid – and to gauge what worked, what didn’t, and how we could do it better. The conference took place in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin between 2:00pm and 4:30pm, following the Dóchas AGM that morning. Participation free to members of Dóchas and IDEA - €15 fee for non-members. Read the C-Cubed Conference Report Download the conference programme Download speakers' biographies Conference resources Conference Programme Speakers' Biographies Ipsos MRBI survey findings - 'Public Responses on Ireland's Investment in Overseas Aid' (April 2012) Speeches & presentations Speech by Minister of State for Development and Trade Joe Costello TD Research documents Communicating Development Social media Tel: Resetting the Aid Relationship.

The aid and deve lopment sector has been a pioneer within the engagement field, developing practical and innovative methodologies such as Participatory Appraisal as well as embedding concepts such as ownership through participation as part of mainstream policy. The focus of such activity has been in developing countries themselves. Beyond one way communication with UK taxpayers, the Department for International Development (DFID) has made limited attempts to engage citizens in deliberation about the trade-offs inherent within the aid world. This is in stark contrast to developments within science and technology, where significant thought and effort has gone into finding ways to open up policy making to citizen voices, hopes and aspirations.

Taking this as the starting point, ‘Resetting the Aid Relationship’ explores what lessons DFID and other development actors can learn from the progress made to engage the public in policies involving science and technology. Finding Frames: New ways to engage. Frames & Values: promoting public engagement. Framing Development.

Using cartoons to Communicate Development « Dochasnetwork's Blog. 10/04/2012 at 4:55 pm On 3 May, Dóchas and IDEA are hosting a conference on Communicating Development: See here. If you are interested in the content of the conference, then this blog post gives you a very good overview of the type of questions we will be raising. (and the links in the article are worth checking out) And if you’re not the reading type, then check out some of these cartoons: NB: If you decide to use any of these, please credit Richard Duszczak of Cartoon Studio Ltd. ( PS: we know: these cartoons don’t communicate “Development” – they merely provide a witty and unfair commentary on Northern NGO communications practice.

Post script: And do visit the cartoons library on Like this: Like Loading... Entry filed under: NGOs. C-Cubed Conference Report. History and the development aid debate in the Republic of Ireland - Policy & Practice - A Development Education Review. Introduction In September 2006, more than thirty-two years after its publication was first discussed, the Irish government issued its White Paper on Irish Aid. Designed to encourage a greater public understanding of the official aid programme, the document contained more than a passing reference to the role of the past in shaping Irish Aid’s present. In the preface, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and Minister of State in charge of Development Co-operation and Human Rights Conor Lenihan drew on the strength of precedence and Ireland’s traditions in the field of development aid: ‘It is important to realise that we are not starting with a blank slate.

Irish Aid, which has been in operation since 1974, has been very favourably reviewed by independent institutions and other international donors’ (DFA, 2006a:5). Experience, they implied, was vital – not least in building brand longevity. Writing aid history This limited treatment of Ireland’s aid history is not unremarkable. Speech by Minister Costello. NGOs Try Out Humor. Does it Work? When done well, humor can prove to be an excellent tool in shedding light on a serious issue.

The tactic has been employed for a long time with satire the most notable form. However, a few recent examples have caught my attention. Pathfinder International In the video, women go to a health clinic where they are served by a flaky doctor, face long wait times, experience treatment shortages and are asked to bring their husband in for permission to access contraceptives. It's over the top, but the point appears to be to show how such practices would be considered unacceptable in the United States.

What stands out here is the way that the message is driven home at the end by explicitly saying how absurd the short is while connecting it to the reality for millions of women. Gates Foundation Senior Communication's Officer Diane Scott is giddy as she describes the process by which the Gates Foundation has undertaken to create fake poop in the Impatient Optimists blog. ONE Campaign. Want me to listen? Tell me a story. If you’ve ever had any doubts that international aid or global health is a business, then one visit to an International AIDS Conference will clear them away.

Between the free frozen yogurt from big pharma and bookend speeches from the Clintons, it was hard to ignore what a “sexy” disease HIV was last week in Washington D.C. At a pre-conference meeting, I made a presentation on the nexus of storytelling and M&E, which begged the question–if program people could understand the key elements of a good story (i.e. protagonist with which we identify, obstacle, overcoming of obstacle and resolution), how would we represent the value of our programs? And I don’t mean the sad, formulaic, public relations pieces that many organizations use in which those on the receiving end are passive characters in the story, i.e. so-and-so was poor or sick, they received our help, and now they’re not.

If more stories were told by those of us in international aid and global health, would we actually learn more? Data Visualisations. ChangeNation. What’s the Message? – Communicating development better together. What’s the Message? – Communicating development better together 12/06/2012 at 10:53 am Guest blog by Franziska Fehr If the ‘customers’ don’t get the message you’re trying to get across, it’s not their fault – it’s yours. This statement seemed particularly timely considering the results of the Ipsos/MRBI opinion poll commissioned by Dóchas. These somewhat counterintuitive findings are challenging us working in Irish development NGOs to ask ourselves about how we talk to the Irish public about development issues. What is it that people see on the TV or read in the paper that gives them such a gloomy perception of, for example, Africa and other countries is the global South?

A number of speakers at the C-cubed conference pointed to two questions that Irish NGOs might need to reflect on. A tale of two styles? The Ipsos/MRBI poll also found that 90% of the Irish population names television as their primary source of information about the developing world. A glance at the Irish context Like this: Irish NGOs and Social Networking: “Think Relationships, not Campaigns” 06/01/2012 at 11:24 pm Guest post by Jeanne Spillane and Ger Skerrett The way we use the internet is constantly changing and evolving.

The overwhelming amount of information available online means that what we see is often dictated by the search engines we use or the sites we access. In recent years, the explosion in the use of social networking and sharing sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Stumbleupon, MySpace and LinkedIn has led many people to filter the information they receive through friends and followers via these networks. The relevance of this to NGOs and Nonprofits is the subject of an ever-growing body of research in the United States. Related research in the Irish context is quite limited. Of a potential pool of over 2 million Irish Facebook users, the 43 members of Dochas currently have only 85,000 followers between them, with the top three, Amnesty, Concern, and Plan Ireland, accounting for half of these.

Like this: Like Loading... Humanitarian Appeals: Messages and Connotations. 30/01/2012 at 2:40 pm Guest post by Emer McCarthy and Grace Duffy* Our perceptions of the Developing World shape our interactions with it. The media can play a role in creating tensions and negative, over-simplified connotations of the Developing World. The competitive nature of NGO fundraising and media communications can encourage NGOs and the media to emphasise and sensationalise the poverty and direness of life in the Developing World. It is often reasoned that the full potential of fundraising from the general public will not be achieved unless provocative images are used, that is to say that images and messages of empowerment and success are believed to be associated with lower levels of response. The real challenge is in representing and satisfying a need whilst remaining true to reality.

The aim of the study was to examine the extent to which Irish NGOs are using images and messages in their public communications. Like this: Like Loading... Entry filed under: NGOs. Of Haitian Puppet Shows: Communicating Better. A lot of work has been done in recent years to ‘professionalise’ humanitarian aid and development work. Reputable organisations don’t see themselves as ‘charities’, paternalistically handing things out to their many grateful dependents. They’re not staffed entirely by well-meaning volunteers with no immediately-observable skills. There’s been a shift, over decades, to focus less on chucking stuff off the back of trucks, and more on dignity, sustainability, accountability, empowerment, impact. The last thing we would want to do as aid workers, then, would be to use people in the ‘third world’ to feel better, or worse, about ourselves.

This recent video shows people in Haiti reading out statements from twitter, repeating people’s #firstworldproblems. I lived in Port au Prince for a decent amount of time, working as a Communications Manager for a very large aid organisation. “Please get me a story about a 5-8 year old girl, living in [insert really bad situation]. Mind the gap: knowing and acting. Engaging Minds: Language analysis. Winning the Story Wars - The Hero's Journey (2012) Winning the Story Wars - The Myth Gap. Becoming a Networked Nonprofit. Redesigning your nonprofit organization to become more participatory, open, authentic, decentralized, collective, and effective—via social media, networks, and beyond.

The environment in which nonprofits are doing their social change work has changed dramatically over the past five years. It’s more complex, online networks are central to our lives and work, and stakeholders want more involvement. Seeing tangible results from your organization’s social change efforts now requires two things to be successful: leading with a network mindset, and using measurement and learning to continuously improve. It is just not about using the tools—having a Facebook brand presence or tweeting as the CEO of your organization—it is a total redesign of your organization. A network mindset exercises leadership through active participation, openness, decentralized decision-making, and collective action.

Success happens for nonprofits if they take small, incremental, and strategic steps. The Crawl Stage.