Media and the mission to educate: ″Success is not immoral″ | Latest news | DW | 26.06.2012
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Media and the mission to educate: "Success is not immoral"

Professor Franz-Josef Radermacher, Member of the Club of Rome, took part in the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn. The opening panel's discussion topic was "Ratings versus Quality."

"What is the right message, and what is the wrong message?" This was the question that Professor Franz-Josef Radermacher posed in his keynote speech to the opening panel of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn. He stressed that this question has to be asked in any discussion of the media's mission to educate. Radermacher, who is a member of the Club of Rome, argued that nobody has a monopoly on truth, not even in the name of freedom of the press.

He discussed the subject "Ratings versus Quality: Media Caught Between Market Pressure and the Mission to Educate" with other experts at the World Conference Center on June 25.

Radermacher, who is Professor of Information Sciences at Ulm University in Germany, said it is obvious that the media have an interest in conveying ideas. But one should not underestimate the "manipulative character" of reporting, which stems from differing perspectives. All media outlets are in a position to spread ideas according to their respective sizes and positions in the market. And "if you have a mission to educate, you must try to be successful. Losers never have influence in the long run." The key is to find the right balance, Radermacher stressed. "It is not immoral to want to be successful."

"A mix of education and entertainment"

Charlotte Cole at the Global Media Forum 2012

Charlotte Cole

Charlotte Cole, Vice President of "Global Education, Sesame Workshop," turned to her special mission of educating children. "Children need change," which must be conveyed to them through examples they can relate to. Cole argued that media must provide a combination of education and entertainment.

Lynne Weil, Director of Communications and External Affairs at the Broadcasting Board of Governors in the US, took the position that the media's goal is to produce a "healthy mix of education and entertainment."

Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation, stressed that we live in a sea of information but do not understand it. The question is whether television sees that it has a mission or whether it is only concerned with its business interests. In any event, television is just a "mirror of real life."

"A huge responsibility"

Trevor Ncube at the Global Media Forum 2012

Trevor Ncube

Trevor Ncube, a media entrepreneur from South Africa, spoke from an African perspective. He noted that Western media continue to dwell on negative themes such as poverty, hunger and slavery when reporting about the continent. He argued, however, that our role as journalists must be to engage on behalf of and be relevant to our audience, as well as to cooperate with it. "This is a huge responsibility."

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Christoph Jumpelt

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