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Monday, 20 June 2011, 4.00 p.m., Room Aeltestenrat


“Those who do not have power over the stories that dominate their lives, power to retell them, rethink them, deconstruct them, joke about them, and change them as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.” (Salman Rushdie: One Thousand Days in a Balloon)

The recent upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have once again highlighted the power of social media networks to galvanize communities and bring about massive social and political transformation.

New technologies and especially mobile phones are radically changing the ways in which information is shared in communities living on the margins of the “information society” andhe convergence of affordable new media is opening up previously closed spaces.
Yet when we look at these massive and rapid social changes we often focus on the technology used rather than on the empowerment of creating and sharing our stories and building alternative perspectives of what is possible. Community media practitioners have for a long time recognized this power and advocated for more democratic and alternative perspectives of our world. New technology is making this easier and more democratic, but the task remains and it is community communication that empowers.

Out of the limelight of mainstream media, community media around the world use very basic means to empower marginalized communities through the sharing and communication of their realities. These brave media professionals frequently stand alone, with the marginalized people they represent, in the face of brutality and suppression, often without the protection or even the knowledge of human rights groups. Yet they are on the front line of the defence of human rights, providing diversity and alternative perspectives of the often hidden stories of oppressed people.

Alvito de Souza
Secretary General, SIGNIS,Belgium

Steve Buckley
Expert in comparative media policy, law and regulation, former president of AMARC, UK

Brenda Burrell
Co-founder and Technical Director of Kubatana.net, Head of Freedom Phone, Zimbabwe

Ian Pringle
Communication Specialist, Commonwealth of Learning, Canada

Frank Smyth
Journalist security coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), USA

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