By Steven Youngblood, Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism

I had the honor of being the keynote speaker recently at the American Friends Service Committee's "If I Had A Trillion Dollars" film festival in Kansas City. The festival featured peace-themed videos produced by area students. My speech, titled "Viral Peace", is below. Sorry for the all caps--it's just the way I write speeches.

I AM FRUGAL….NOW, MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY PREFER THE UNFLATTERING WORD CHEAP, BUT I KNOW BETTER…I KNOW THAT’S I’M NOT CHEAP OR TIGHT, BUT MERELY BUDGET-CONSCIOUS IN A FRUGAL SORT OF WAY.

THUS, AS I STAND HERE TODAY PONDERING WHAT I WOULD DO WITH A TRILLION DOLLARS, MY FIRST THOUGHT IS, SAVE IT…OK, I MIGHT BUY A CAR, A NEW OR SLIGHTLY USED PRIUS, BUT THE REST WOULD BE SQUIRRELED AWAY FOR A RAINY DAY…OR RAINY YEAR…OR RAINY MILLENNIUM. SINCE I HAVE NEITHER THE TRILLION DOLLARS, NOR A NEW PRIUS, I’LL HAVE TO MAKE DUE WITH THINKING ABOUT HOW—FRUGALLY—WE CAN ALL ANSWER THE CALL TO HUMANITARIAN ACTION….HOW WE CAN STRIVE TO LEAVE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE THAN WE FOUND IT.

AND YOU KNOW, THESE DAYS, IT’S POSSIBLE TO EFFECTIVELY SPREAD PEACEFUL MESSAGES IN WAYS THAT WE WOULD’T HAVE IMAGINED TWO OR THREE DECADES AGO. BACK THEN, IT WAS EXPENSIVE TO MAKE A FILM, OR BUY ADVERTISING SPACE, OR PRODUCE RADIO PROGRAMMING. TODAY, WE CAN ALL DO THIS ON OUR LAPTOPS, ON OUR IPADS, AND EVEN ON OUR PHONES. AND WE CAN DO ALL OF THIS…FRUGALLY, WITHOUT A TRILLION OR MILLION OR EVEN MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

AS I HAVE TAUGHT PEACE JOURNALISM AROUND THE WORLD, I’VE USUALLY WORKED IN COUNTRIES WITH FEW FINANCIAL RESOURCES…PLACES LIKE MOLDOVA OR UGANDA OR KENYA. IN UGANDA, MY COLLEAGUES AND I HAVE TAUGHT OVER 40 PEACE JOURNALISM SEMINARS TO RADIO REPORTERS AND ANNOUNCERS SINCE 2009. OUR MESSAGE—THAT RADIO PROFESSIONALS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR PEACE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES BY EMPLOYING PEACE JOURNALISM.

PEACE JOURNALISM, FOR THE UNITIATED, CAN BE DEFINED AS WHEN REPORTERS AND EDITORS USE THEIR POWER TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO PEACE. THIS MEANS USING LANGUAGE THAT IS NOT INFLAMMATORY…AND TELLING STORIES IN SUCH A WAY AS TO NOT EXACERBATE AN ALREADY BAD SITUATION. UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES OF THE OPPOSITE—WAR JOURNALISM—WHERE MEDIA HAVE STIRRED UP ANGRY MOBS, AND ENCOURAGED HATRED AND DIVISIONS WITHIN SOCIETY. AS JOURNALISTS, OF COURSE WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO REPORT VIOLENCE AND CONFLICTS.

AS PEACE JOURNALISTS, WE ASK OURSELVES TO CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR REPORTING. ARE WE POURING GASOLINE ON THE FIRE…OR ARE WE GIVING PEACEMAKERS A VOICE, AND FRAMING OUR STORIES IN SUCH A WAY THAT PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVES ARE AT LEAST GIVEN EQUAL CONSIDERATION.

OUR PEACE JOURNALISM PROJECTS IN UGANDA AND ELSEWHERE ALL SHARE THE USE OF MULTIMEDIA AS TOOLS FOR PEACE…THESE TOOLS INCLUDE RADIO, ONLINE PODCASTS, PHOTOGRAPHY, WEBSITES, AND YES, VIDEO AS A WAY TO SPREAD THE LESSONS OF PEACE JOURNALISM. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THESE MULTIMEDIA TOOLS ARE INCREASINGLY AVAILABLE, EVEN IN REMOTE PLACES LIKE RURAL UGANDA…AND THEY DON’T COST MUCH, EITHER.

ONE FRUGAL MULTIMEDIA FORMAT I ALWAYS ENCOURAGE IS THE PRODUCTION OF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS, OR PSA’S. THESE CAN BE EITHER VIDEO OR AUDIO, AND CAN BE MADE VERY CHEAPLY USING FREEWARE AND SOUND EFFECTS FOUND ON THE INTERNET.

VIDEO, AS WE SAW WITH YOUR ‘IF I HAD A TRILLION DOLLARS’ FEATURES, CAN ALSO BE AMONG THE MOST POWERFUL TOOLS FOR PEACE. YOU ALL KNOW ABOUT THE VIDEO, KONY 2012…THIS 30 MINUTE FILM DETAILED THE CASE OF JOSEPH KONY AND HIS FOLLOWERS, WHO TERRORIZED NORTHERN UGANDA FOR ABOUT 20 YEARS. NOW, WE COULD SPEND THE NEXT HOUR DISCUSSING THE MANY FLAWS IN THE FILM…BUT I’D LIKE US TO IGNORE THAT FOR RIGHT NOW. INSTEAD, THINK ABOUT THE POWER DEMONSTRATED BY THIS FILM…I JUST CHECKED, AND KONY 2012 HAS ABOUT 96 MILLION HITS ON YOUTUBE. I'VE EVEN FELT ITS IMPACT PERSONALLY. FOR EXAMPLE, I NEVER IMAGINED BEING APPROACHED BY STUDENTS AND COLLEAGUES AND BEING ASKED ABOUT JOSEPH KONY AND THE UGANDAN CIVIL WAR… SO, EVEN THOUGH THE VIDEO ITSELF IS FLAWED, IT NONETHELESS DEMONSTRATES THE POWER TO VIRALLY SPREAD MESSAGES OF PEACE.

OF COURSE, 96 MILLION HITS IS ONLY A FRACTION OF THE VIEWS POSSIBLE WHEN A VIDEO GOES TRULY VIRAL. ANYONE HEARD OF SOMETHING CALLED GANGHAM STYLE? IF YOU HAVE SEEN THIS ON YOUTUBE, YOU HAVE COMPANY…GANGHAM STYLE, AT LAST COUNT, HAS OVER 1 BILLION 100 MILLION YOUTUBE VIEWS. NOW, DREAM FOR A MINUTE…WHAT IF GANGHAM STYLE WAS A PEACE VIDEO? A VIDEO PROMOTING RECONCILIATION, BROTHERHOOD, AND HARMONY? WHAT IF THE VIDEO ENCOURAGED YOUNG PEOPLE TO GET INVOLVED IN POSITIVE WAYS TO DEVELOP THEIR COMMUNITIES? THINK OF THE POTENTIAL GLOBAL IMPACT. THE BEST PART IS, THIS WOULD BE AN IMPACT ACCOMPLISHED VERY FRUGALLY…FOR JUST THE COST OF POSTING A VIDEO.

MY EXPERIENCES LECTURING ON FIVE CONTINENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME THAT PEOPLE WANT TO CONNECT TO ONE ANOTHER, THAT THEY YEARN FOR PEACE, AND THEY WANT TO TELL THEIR STORIES. I TRULY BELIEVE THE MOTTO OF PEOPLE TO PEOPLE INTERNATIONAL, FOR WHOM I’VE CONDUCTED A NUMBER OF SEMINARS. THEIR MOTTO IS PEACE THROUGH UNDERSTANDING. WHAT BETTER WAY TO FOSTER THAT UNDERSTANDING THAN BY UTILIZING MULTIMEDIA TOOLS, LIKE VIDEO, THAT ARE SUDDENLY AVAILABLE TO ALMOST EVERYONE...EVEN THOSE OF US WHO ARE FRUGAL.

THAT'S WHY I'M SO HUMBLED TO MEET YOU ALL TODAY,BECAUSE YOU ALREADY UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR PEACE AND THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF VIRALLY SPREADING PEACE MESSAGES.

THEREFORE, IF I HAD A TRILLION DOLLARS, I WOULD USE IT TO EMPOWER EVERYONE TO SHARE THEIR MULTIMEDIA MESSAGES OF PEACE… I USE THE WORD EMPOWERED VERY DELIBERATELY, SINCE THOSE WHO ARE EMPOWERED AREN'T MARGINALIZED...AND SINCE WE KNOW THAT THOSE WHO DO FEEL MARGINALIZED ARE MORE LIKELY TO STRIKE OUT VIOLENTLY.

SO WITH MY TRILLION, I'D BUY MILLIONS OF LAPTOPS AND IPADS, CONNECT HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS TO THE INTERNET…AND ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO VIRTUALLY JOIN HANDS TO LAY A FOUNDATION WHERE PEACE CAN FLOURISH.

AND ALSO, I'D BUY A NEW OR SLIGHTLY USED PRIUS. THANK YOU

--You can follow me on Twitter @PeaceJourn or at http://stevenyoungblood.blogspot.com

Views: 56

Tags: journalism, multimedia, peace, video

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