Twenty five years ago a small group of broadcasters, development experts and business people decided to set up a charity that would encourage UK television to show a broader range of stories about the developing world.
In a post-colonial era, humanitarian emergencies and the need for compassionate responses dominated public attitudes. It was only a few years after Michael Buerk's BBC News reports on the devastating famine in Ethiopia; even more recent were the LiveAid concerts - important events but not the whole story of developing countries, even then. A letter to the Charity Commission, bashed out on a manual typewriter, said that the charity would try "to stimulate within the broadcasting fraternity a greater interest in broadly educational programmes about the developing world."
The first chairman was businessman Sir Michael Caine of Booker plc who had relevant experience due to his championing of the firm's famous literary prize.
Within a year One World Broadcasting Trust was running the first of what has become the annual One World Media Awards, a unique and much cherished event in the UK media industry's calendar, presented by the doyen of British news anchors, Channel 4's Jon Snow.
Over the past quarter of a century, the charity, renamed One World Media in 2009, has expanded far beyond the sheltered groves of the traditional news, current affairs and documentary of British public service television. Stories from the developing world now come through reality TV, glossy magazines, blogs and social media and all find their place in the charity's annual competition. The technology of media and communications and the explosion of offerings, from YouTube to the Economist and everything in between, has made it more possible than anyone could ever have imagined to bring people around the world together through the production and consumption of media.
Encouraging global dialogue and understanding, human rights and development through the media is what our charity is still striving to do. It is heartening to see how successful our annual awards have become, while behind the scenes we carry on with other charitable work supporting student journalists and filmmakers in the UK, and media leaders and innovators in developing countries.
Events around the world in the past year have demonstrated that our work is more relevant than ever. The nominations for the awards this year underline that, and media itself - critical to democracy and freedom of expression - is often part of the story. They range across the Arab Spring, the East African famine and Afghanistan. But they also highlight less obvious stories from countries as far afield as Ethiopia, Indonesia and the Caribbean. Shocking instances of human rights abuses, conflict and poverty get their share of the limelight. But subtleties and analysis are also part of the picture, showing that the lives of people in developing countries are not exotic phenomena but are influenced by the systems that rule the world. From African migrants producing food in Spain for the dinner tables of Europe to the rubbish being generated by the consumerism of Jakarta's exploding middle class, the work of journalists and filmmakers helps make clear how we are all implicated in the complex ways of the world.
Over the past 25 years, major themes have emerged in our Awards' annual stock take of how the UK media represents the world. HIV/AIDs has dominated in all categories in some years; more recently it has been the rapid urbanisation in previously agrarian societies that has stood out. Last year, powerful entries rang alarm bells about the environmental and social costs to the Chinese people of the West's appetite for electronic consumer goods. This year, in keeping with global concerns about the widening gap between the runaway wealth of international elites and the destitution of the world's poor, inequality is a leading issue, including within developing countries themselves.
As the deadline for the UK's Millennium Development Goals approaches in 2015, there is a widening debate about how to continue making progress in tackling poverty, inequality and intolerance. The industrialisation of China, Chinese investments in Africa, stresses on the world's food and water systems, migration and population will all feature in the futures of the wealthy and poor alike wherever they are. Through our awards we encourage journalists and filmmakers to tell the whole story, to relay the authentic voices of people often discounted or silenced in international affairs, and to help us understand how in a globalised world, 25 years on, we are all connected more than ever.
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