IN THIS ISSUE (MAY 2006)

  • Florencia Enghel

Abstract

A few weeks ago, Argentina made the headlines worldwide due to an unexpected occurrence. During the fourth EU-Latin American and the Caribbean Countries Summit held in Vienna, Austria, on May 12 2006, when the presidents and prime ministers from fifty-eight countries were getting ready for a photo session open to the international press, Greenpeace broke through, generating a news peg of its own.

Their said purpose was to expose their concerns regarding the pollution of the Uruguay river implied by the installation in progress of two paper mills in Uruguay –an issue that over the past months has led to an escalating, multi-dimensional dispute between the governments of Argentina and Uruguay because of its potential social, economic and political consequences for both parts. The dispute involves Finland and Spain as well, since the main private investments for the paper mills come from those countries.

Greenpeace’s intervention consisted of a young woman, Evangelina Carrozzo, accredited to the summit as a journalist from a small local newspaper from Argentina, suddenly taking off her coat to unveil a typical, minuscule, two-pieces carnival costume –and a magnificent, quite naked body [1]- and disrupting the photo-op to display a poster. Evangelina, a dentistry student elected queen of Gualeguaychú’s carnival parade [2] in February 2006, had been contacted by Greenpeace only 15 days prior to the Vienna summit, and agreed to act out the organisation’s message.

Operating within the confines and assumptions that drive the most chauvinist and misogynist of commercial advertising, Greenpeace’s assault on the summit, because of its characteristics, was rapidly trivialised by the international media. The BBC, for instance, referred to the fact that presidents were mostly amused by the gorgeous carnival queen. Subsequent treatment in the Argentine media focused almost exclusively on Evangelina’s physical graciousness. Her opinions, when requested, never went besides further reiterating Greenpeace’s slogans. Divorced from its socio-economical context, the resulting distorted coverage was far from nurturing a well-informed public debate on a delicate matter.

Astonished by the overall event, I could not stop thinking about the importance and crucial value of every communicative endeavour we choose to support for the advancement –or not- of the societies we live in. The fact that an international NGO will address the public opinion as if it was the average (male) mass of consumers targeted by commercial advertising should serve as a wake-up call. If equitable, truly participatory societies are what we aim for, there must be more to “effective” communication than meets the eye.

Which brings me to this new issue of Globala Tider, now renamed as Glocal Times [3]. In the spirit of informing and facilitating dialogue between academics, researchers and practitioners, bridging the distance between university and the field and bringing together experiences from several parts of the world, the webmagazine enters its second year with a special edition devoted to HIV/AIDS communication [4].

From South Africa, Warren Parker discusses the ideology underneath the dominant discourses in the loveLife HIV prevention programme, and proposes a methodology of critical analysis that will allow a rigorous assessment of the contradictions and setbacks of other initiatives in progress.

From Jamaica, Marjan de Bruin analyses blind spots and wasted effort in the response to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and the importance of addressing strategic communication planning in light of a complex, multilevel and multi-faceted definition of the HIV/AIDS problem.

From Sweden, Rodrigo Garay introduces us to the efforts under way to develop an HIV/AIDS rating instrument at the national level for governments and other actors in the HIV/AIDS field to be held accountable to the commitments they make, and discusses communication as a crucial element for such an instrument to make an impact.

From Denmark, Helle Samuelsen delves into the discrepancy between the outspoken HIV/AIDS rhetoric at a global level and the corresponding silence among young men and women. Looking into the situation in Burkina Faso, West Africa, she calls for a refined analysis of the silence of young people in countries highly affected by the pandemic and of the way in which prevention messages are communicated.

Thomas Tufte, in line with Samuelsen’s concerns, discusses stigma as the core challenge facing HIV/AIDS communication. Drawing on his research work in Grahamstown, South Africa, he pleads for joint efforts aimed at coordinating media-borne and community-based initiatives as a way to deal with the consequences of stigma.

We also welcome Malmö University’s graduates from the 2003 Master course in Communication for Development Claudia Blume and Jackie Davis. Claudia introduces us to a case study of the production of radio soap operas for HIV/AIDS prevention in Yunnan, China. Jackie, based on research in Uganda and Serbia developed jointly with Naomi Delap (who will be a contributor to our next issue), discusses the value of eresources for effective HIV/AIDS communication.

Once again, we hope that this issue of Glocal Times will promote dialogue, foster joint reflection, and inform your work in the field of communication for development and social change. You are welcome to contact us with your comments, questions and suggestions while we prepare the fifth issue of the webmagazine, which will be online in September 2006.

[1] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/photosvideos/photos/thecarnival- queen-of-argentin

[2] Gualeguaychú is an Argentine city by the Uruguay river where several protests against the Uruguayan paper mills have been taking place.

[3] See Oscar Hemer’s Editorial for the rationale behind the decision to change the webmagazine’s name.

[4] This special issue of Glocal Times would not have been possible without Thomas Tufte’s participation as guest editor.

 

Published
2006-06-01
Section
In this Issue