Thembi Ngubane was 19 when she first met Joe Richman, Executive Producer of Radio Diaries, who handed her a tape recorder and a mike to record her everyday life for a year. Over the course of the year, she kept an audio diary of her inner-most thoughts and her daily struggles. During that time she recorded more than 50 hours of tape, which was then edited into a half-hour documentary.
During her tour of the United States in April and May of 2006, Thembi presented her story to American high school and college students across the country, congressional staff in Washington, DC, AIDS doctors in Boston, celebrities in Hollywood and HIV-positive teens in Chicago. She recorded a video diary for MTV. On the last day of the tour, Thembi was invited to represent people living with AIDS on a special CNN global broadcast with President Bill Clinton and actor-activist Richard Gere.
The diary was first heard on South Africa radio stations in March 2007, following Thembi’s tours to the United States, United Kingdom, and Austria. It was broadcast throughout the country on the national broadcaster, SABC, as well as community radio stations in English, Xhosa, and Zulu. The broadcasts coincided with the launch of a two-week speaking tour of the country, presenting Radio Diaries and Thembi's story at high schools, universities, AIDS organisations, clinics, and other public listening and discussion events. As part of the tour, CDs of Thembi’s AIDS Diary in English, Xhosa, and Zulu were distributed.
Radio Diaries, a United States based non-profit production company, creates first-person documentaries for public radio.Radio Diaries’ Executive Producer Joe Richman produced this documentary. According to Richman, Thembi’s AIDS Diary proved to be a powerful tool in the United States to help reduce the stigma of AIDS and to highlight the need for antiretroviral drugs in Africa.
E-mail received from Joe Richman/Radio Diaries on March 15 2007 and Radio Diaries website.
Launched in November 2009, Shuga is a three-part television drama produced by MTV in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United States President's Emergency Plan for
Filmed in Nairobi, Shuga is designed to be a hard-hitting TV drama series that aims to lift the lid on the reckless sex lives and loves of young Kenyans and their partners. The drama series consists of three concurrent but interlinked storylines, following the complicated sex lives of a group of 'cool' Kenyan students. One of the storylines is about Ayira, a modern girl who wants it all, including her long-time boyfriend and an older man. UNICEF and PEPFAR worked out the priority messages to get across to young people, which were about the dangers of having multiple sexual partners, the need to get tested for HIV, and stigma associated with being positive.
The show was designed to be sexy without being too explicit and to talk openly about sex. The producers were careful not to be too explicit: showing underwear rather than nudity, writhing rather than body parts. But many of the 85 broadcasters in more than 100 territories to whom MTV gave Shuga still opted for a slightly censored version. According to Georgia Arnold of MTV, Shuga works because young people identify with the characters. "They are great, sexy, passionate actors and actresses and people clicked with them. The aim was to make a really good drama that people would watch. There's always going to be a didactic element, but you can make it in a way that it seeps to the back of the brain".
Episodes, as well as behind the scenes video clips, can be downloaded on the MTV Ignite website.
See below for a short musical video with music by Nonini based on the Shuga series.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins University, 60% of Kenyan youth had seen Shuga, knew the main messages, and could identify lessons to be learned. Almost 50% of groups of viewers interviewed talked about the characters and messages with close friends. They also talked about it with family and acquaintances, although only 15% talked about them with a partner. More than 90% of Kenyans and 50-60% of a panel of young Zambians said they believed the show had an impact on their thinking. Kenyan participants also said they were more likely to take an HIV test after watching Shuga.
Click here to download the full evaluation.
Launched in 1998, Staying Alive is a multimedia global HIV and AIDS prevention campaign that challenges stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS as well as empowers young people to protect themselves from infection. The Emmy award-winning campaign consists of documentaries, public service announcements, youth forums, and web content. Staying Alive provides all its television programming rights-free and at no cost to third party broadcasters globally in order to get prevention messages out to the widest possible audience.
MTV, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The IDB Youth Program (BID Juventud del Banco Inter-American de Desarrollo) and the pro-social campaign MTV Grita's Youth as Agents of Change began in October 2006 during the MTV Latin America Awards, which were produced under the banner "We All Are Agents of Change". A special segment was dedicated to recognise youth community leaders and their contributions to development. In addition, the MTV Agent of Change Award was given to Colombian celebrity Juanes for his contributions to peace and social change. Youth were invited to share their development projects by submitting a story online. More than 7,000 stories were received on a wide range of topics, such as environmental protection, microenterprise, health, housing, and art and culture. Six hundred of them were uploaded to the website; from those, 25 were selected from 7 different countries to be filmed and produced as 3-minute segments for transmission on MTV Latin America and local TV stations. The selected Agents of Change have also become part of the Youth Venture Latin America Network, an Ashoka initiative that provides technical assistance and seed capital to young social entrepreneurs.
In the 2009 spinoff summarised here, one of the Agents of Change - footballer Luis Figo - joined with MTV to inspire youth across the region to take on the role of agents of change to stop tuberculosis. On July 1 2009, MTV Latin America launched a 5-minute special report covering the 3rd Stop TB Partners Forum, which was held in March in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This report features an interview in which MTV reporter Ilana Sod visits Figo in Milan to discuss his role as an Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership. Click here to view the report at la Comunidad MTV Agentes de Cambio in MySpace. In addition, Figo starred in a one-minute spot that ran for 3 weeks on MTV Latin America.
Figo has been serving as a Stop TB Ambassador since January 2008. A World TB Day poster campaign featuring Figo was launched in March 2008, soon followed by the release of a comic book featuring Figo as the main character. In Luis Figo and the World Tuberculosis Cup [PDF], Figo and his fellow players (teen-aged girls and boys) together win a match against a team of tuberculosis germs. The comic book was launched as an animated cartoon, which can be viewed in its French-language version here. Organisers plan to broadcast it widely around the world in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
All of Figo's videos are available on Stop TB's YouTube channel.
According to organisers, TB kills 5,000 people around the world people every day, and nearly 2 million people per year.
MTV Networks Inc. owns and operates MTV Latin America, Nickelodeon Latin America, Vh1 Latin America, Viacom Networks Brazil, and the digital channels of MTV Networks. Spanish and Portuguese versions of MTV, Vh1, and Nickelodeon are viewed in more than 20 countries across Latin America. MTV Networks Latin America also connects with its audience in an interactive manner through its web pages, its pages for broadband users, and its online communities of musicians and music lovers.
The Stop TB Partnership is an international health partnership whose secretariat is housed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
BID Juventud is a programme that promotes active participation in development projects by the youth of Latin America and the Caribbean by facilitating communication between young people and their governments, the private sector, and civil society so that youth can express their opinions and actively contribute to social change.
MTV Networks Inc., The Stop TB Partnership, BID Juventud.
"MTV Premieres a Special Report about Footballer Luis Figo and His Role as a Stop TB Ambassador" [PDF], July 1 2009 press release from Stop TB Partnership News; and IADB website, August 26 2009.
This initiative draws on television and the internet to inspire youth to make a difference in the world by introducing them to peers who embody lifestyle change, rather than simply preach about it. Amongst the young people profiled on Element are, for example, Emmanuel Jal, formerly a child soldier in Sudan, who is now "an internationally acclaimed performer using his music to combat poverty and promote disarmament." Another individual whose story is highlighted here is a man in his twenties who began fighting child slavery at the age of 12; "his efforts have created the world’s largest network of young people helping young people. They've changed laws, built over 400 schools and more." One may view all of the episodes on the Element website, which also features information on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - communicated in part through online video snippets - and which seeks to engage youth in dialogue through various blogs.
The second Element series, launched as part of MTV's global climate change campaign "MTV Switch", narrows the topical focus to that of the environment while expanding the reach of the media being used to share young people's experiences. Amongst the individuals who are tackling climate change head on are a Brazilian student whose prolific urban food gardens are slowly spreading across Rio de Janeiro and an environmental blogger from Iran. The Element Climate Change Series is being made available across MTV's network of 165 localised TV channels in 162 countries. Educators worldwide are also invited to contact TVE to obtain the entire series for use in schools and universities; the series is also available for screenings at conferences and special events. In addition, organisers have also selected several European and United States (US)-based creative agencies to develop a series of PSAs.
Youth, Environment, Rights.
The United Nations (UN) Environment Programme (UNEP) Director of Communications comments: "It is fascinating to see how many of the young Element entrepreneurs already have their feet firmly in the new carbon economy that UNEP is promoting. These films will reach global TV and internet audiences during exactly the period that the UN will be convening vital international negotiations in the run up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, and have the potential to galvanize action and inspire leadership within dozens of communities and across a generation of MTV viewers..." A sixth Element film profiling Jeff, whom organisers describe as "a pioneer in virtual reality and climate change teleconferencing", will be presented to delegates and policymakers meeting at the Poznan UN Climate negotiations in December 2008.
MTV, TVE, Internews, OWBT, the European Commission's EuropeAid Cooperation Office, Oxfam-Novib, and the Com + Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development that includes UNEP, the World Bank, and the Reuters Foundation.
TVE Press Release, September 10 2008; "Internews Helps Produce Climate Change Series for MTV Viewers"; and Element website; and email from Emily McDowell to The Communication Initiative on October 10 2008.
Programmes in 'The MDGs in Focus' address the development issues underlying each of the 8 MDGs. These films are divided into various series, each with its own web-based site - some of which enable visitors to view the films online, to learn more about the issue(s) and protagonist(s) featured in the film(s), and to discuss how to take action. The following examples from each series illustrate some of the communication strategies used by the filmmakers:
- Life - a series of 5 TVE films that explore the obstacles that prevent industrialised countries from delivering the promises they made at the Millennium Summit in September 2000, as enshrined in MDG #8 - the global partnership for development. Example: "Kill or Cure?" examines what the membership of India (known for over a decade as the powerhouse behind the production of low-cost generic drugs) in the World Trade Organization (WTO) means for the provision of affordable medicines.
- Element - six 5-minute programmes developed for MTV which bring the issues of climate change, poverty, and discrimination to young viewers through the stories of young people. Example - Craig started fighting child slavery at the age of 12; in his twenties he created Free The Children, a global network of young people helping all children have access to primary education - to the end of meeting MDG #2.
- Africa Calling - 8 short films featuring ordinary Africans - from Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone - delivering a powerful series of messages direct to the G8 leaders meeting in Gleneagles in July 2005 about the things that would most improve their lives. Example: Abimbola runs a business manufacturing lenses for spectacles in Lagos, Nigeria. Continuous power cuts, coupled with the lack of a reliable water supply, mean his equipment is always breaking down. He explains to the G8 leaders how cancelling the debts of his country would enable Nigeria to invest in improving its infrastructure to boost manufacturing industry.
- "Dead Mums Don't Cry" - a BBC Panorama documentary that tells the story of Grade Kodindo, an obstetrician committed to trying to deliver on the MDG#5 promise to cut maternal mortality in the West African country of Chad, a country where one in 11 mothers die from preventable causes in childbirth.
In an effort to reach the greatest number of viewers, TVE and OWBT have teamed up with media broadcasters and foundations to air many of the films on television. For instance, the Life films have been broadcast globally on BBC World, as well as in over 18 countries. In the summer of 2008, for instance, GoedTV, in conjunction with Dutch media foundation lokaalmondiaal, is broadcasting 5 of the films in the run-up to the September 25 High Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals in New York (NY, in the United States), while Indian TV channel INX is also planning to broadcast them across India in September. Ongoing European coverage of MDG issues is also encouraged through an international 'MDG award' presented each year at the One World Media Awards in London (United Kingdom).
Millennium Development Goals.
TVE is currently finishing the follow-up project, "The View from the South" - again, in partnership with OWBT and lokaalmondial - which includes a new series of 5 Life programmes. These programmes, which are part of the series Life on the Edge, reflect on progress made to meet the MDGs at the halfway point. Scheduled to begin global broadcast on BBC World News on August 5 2008 and on Goed TV in the Netherlands in the autumn of 2008, the series will also be broadcast in India.
TVE and OWBT, with support from the following: The European Commission (EC), The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oxfam Novib, Nationale Commissie voor Internationale Samenwerking en Duurzame Ontwikkeling (National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development) - NCDO, The UN Foundation.
TVE Press Release, July 14 2008; MDGs in Focus website; and email from Jenny Richards to The Communication Initiative on August 12 2008.
This campaign draws on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to educate and motivate people around the issue of human trafficking. As part of an effort to tap into a young, activist-oriented audience, the campaign has invited well-known models, actors, musicians, and the like to donate their time to present short films and documentaries, which have been screened on television and made available for viewing on the MTV EXIT website. For example, "Parallel Lives" is a series of short films filmed in Belgrade, Serbia (an area hard-hit by trafficking) which are presented by supermodel and photographer Helena Christensen, Gavin Rossdale of rock groups Bush and Institute, and 'Howlin' Pelle Almqvist of Swedish rockers The Hives. Premiered across MTV Europe in May 2005, the films provide specific awareness and prevention information about trafficking. Several documentaries have also been produced, such as "Traffic", which is presented by multiple celebrities in multiple languages and told through the stories of real people in Asia-Pacific who have experienced human trafficking in different ways. The film provides insight into the realities of trafficking, addresses the part everyday people play in the issue, and offers information on how to protect oneself and help end exploitation and trafficking.
As illustrated by the above examples, a core strategy involves sharing the stories of victims of human trafficking; the goal is to contexualise an issue that may otherwise seem abstract. For example, MTV Asia and all the national MTV channels across Asia and the Pacific broadcast a 30-minute show to "give a human face" to the trafficking of people through the personal accounts of 3 people - a woman who was forced into prostitution in the Philippines, an abused domestic worker in Singapore, and a man from Burma who was "practically imprisoned in a factory in Thailand for two years." Accounts of the trafficking survivors and re-enactments of rape, beatings, and abuse are interspersed with interviews with a trafficker and a "client" who openly admitted to the crime. Locally-based research was central to the effort to understand the actual situation, and to find out how best to communicate about it. MTV EXIT reportedly worked with organisations and talked with experts to see which forms of trafficking should be highlighted, in light of the forms that most affect the particular audiences.
The MTV EXIT website provides information, help, and resources related to human trafficking - as well as access to the films and documentaries described above. It is available in 8 languages.
According to figures cited on the MTV EXIT website, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that approximately 2.5 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking; over half of these people are in Asia and the Pacific. The United Nations (UN) notes that criminals earn an estimated US$10 billion every year through buying and selling human beings.
Chat the Planet uses satellite and web technology to enable young people from different countries to talk about issues affecting their lives. Pre-recorded video inserts introduce each topic and serve to instigate the conversation. The participants share their perspectives and opinions on various issues, such as music and pop culture or world issues and ethics. The first six episodes linked young people from the United States (US), South Africa, Australia, and Jordan to discuss activism and materialism (in "What Money Can't Buy", May 10 2003), political correctness (in "Tongue-Tied", May 17 2003), immigration and nationalism (in "Gated Freedom", May 24 2003), youth culture (in "Generation Why?", May 31 2003), family values (June 7 2003), and war (June 14 2003).
Chat the Planet has aired on Link TV (US), Fly TV, and on ABC in Australia. Additionally, in the Middle East, Chat the Planet is broadcast on Al Quds Educational Television in Palestine, MDC in the United Arab Emirates, Zen Satellite Station in Lebanon, Abu Dhabi TV, Nile TV, and additional broadcasters from Jordan. The broadcast partner in South Africa is SABC1.
Youth, Conflict, Tolerance.
According to organisers, the conventional media remains inaccessible to young people who wish to exchange their perspectives rather than be passive viewers. This circumstance is ironic, they say, in light of the fact that young people often occupy the focus of social and political debate and dialogue.
Chat the Planet's producers helped to produce a video satellite link that connected American and Iraqi youth immediately prior to the war, called Bridge to Baghdad. A follow up with the same young people was produced in mid 2003. Chat also produced "Chat The Planet: Baghdad 2-Way", which aired on MTV in October 2004 as part of its "Choose or Lose Campaign". This televised special focused on youth experiences with, and perspectives on, the war in Iraq. Organisers say, "on September 14th, 2004, there were 10 car bombings. As a result 57 Iraqis and three American soldiers were killed. On that same day in Baghdad, just blocks from those two car bombings, our team shot the emotionally-charged conversation between a handful of young Iraqis and a group of young Americans from Kent State University in Ohio. They discussed hard-hitting subjects like life, war, democracy and the upcoming presidential elections."
Chat Ventures produces Chat the Planet. Media partners have included MTV, Worldlink TV, Fly TV, ABC Australia, Al Quds Educational Television, MDC, Zen Satellite Station, Abu Dhabi TV, Nile TV, and SABC1. Chat the Planet is financed by the Shei 'rah Foundation, with additional funding provided by the Surdna Foundation.
Emails from Michael DiBenedetto to The Communication Initiative on September 4 2008 and September 9 2008, respectively.
Internews and Music TV (MTV) announce the launch of the MTV Positive Change Award on creative multimedia coverage of climate change.