Friday, May 4, 2007

The Inter Press Service News Agency, a Success Story

Media, the MDGs and IPS news agency:
Mainstreaming the Message Globally and in Latin America


Reporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a global priority for the IPS - Inter Press Service news agency, with an explicit editorial strategy to use the goals as an anchor and reference point for journalism about development, and marketing, training and partnerships to take the news to huge audiences.

IPS reporting about the MDGs links the grassroots to the corridors of power, as a powerful tool of accountability, creating the conditions for policy change and action. It takes full advantage of the multi-media and multi-lingual assets of its global network, and the existing expertise of the journalistic and editorial team.

This success story showcases the innovative results that IPS has achieved globally, and most recently, particularly in Latin America, to communicate the MDGs. As a media-led initiative it has been innovative in terms of its depth and reach, and the unique range of other media, UN and civil society partners that is mobilised to contribute to its ongoing success.

Mainstreaming the MDG Message Globally
Throughout the 1990s, IPS reported upon, and produced special TerraViva newspapers at the series of UN conferences and summits that laid the groundwork for the Millennium Summit in 2000. IPS went on to develop its specific editorial strategy for reporting on the MDGs, with start-up support from the Millennium Campaign.

An independent research study in 2005 by the Department of Communication at the University of Washington compared how five news agencies (IPS, AP, AFP, PANA and Xinhua) cover the MDGs and concluded that IPS “had by far the most in-depth coverage of the goals. Altogether 33.1 percent of all references to MDG keywords were found in the IPS stories”.

At the 2005 UN Summit to check progress IPS produced a daily printed and online TerraViva MDG newspaper in New York, including a strong gender perspective, supported by UNIFEM. Also in 2005, IPS and the Italian Foreign Ministry organised a seminar “What Communication is Possible to meet the Millennium Development Goals 2005-2015?'. Media ranging from MTV, Le Monde Diplomatique and Reuters Foundation to Al Jazeera and AMARC reflected together.

Now in 2007, activists are using the mid-point between 2000 and 2015 to lobby governments to assess progress, and to push for faster action. IPS news agency is tracking those efforts and the IPS parent body, an INGO, works within alliances like CIVICUS and GCAP to contribute media and communication perspectives.

IPS stories on the MDGs reach thousands of IPS newspaper clients and users in seventy-three countries. In addition, IPS multi-lingual and multi-media communication tools and trainings to share and communicate the reporting include the following:
1. Special news-sites dedicated to the MDGs in English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and French and about Africa. Together IPS news-sites have 18 million + read-pages every month.
2. Newsletters in English and Spanish reaching close to 5,000 individuals, fortnightly.
3. Cities Newsletters, focused on the MDGs, urban-dwellers and the role of municipalities, in partnership with the City of Rome and United Cities and Local Governments and a pilot Italian newsletter to parliamentarians.
4. Columns and op-eds about the MDGs by global experts and personalities, picked up by mainstream newspapers across the world.
5. Training journalists about the MDGs, with courses in partnership with COM +, the Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development and supported by the City of Rome, for Southern journalists in Africa, Asia, New York and Rome.

Taken together IPS is unique in the world of news agencies for the depth and reach of its engagement with the MDGs, as a hallmark of its journalism, and reaching multitudes through partnerships with other media players, UN agencies, civil society, governments and municipalities.

Latin America: MDG Communication Platform 2006 - 2007
IPS Latin America is building a comprehensive communication platform on the MDGs, funded by UNDP, supported by Italian Cooperation. The starting point is to transform MDG issues into news features, research reports, and life stories of interest to national mainstream medias as well as radios, websites, sectoral and local media.

So far there has been a big impact in the media with hundreds of publications in newspapers and magazines, and significant coverage in cultural, community, and commercial radio stations. In addition, stories are published in hundreds of on-line publications and Internet information sites in Latin America and the Caribbean. The communication platform includes:

MDGs news reporting from across Latin America transmitted to 150 media in a weekly package
Spanish and Portuguese websites

Spanish and Portuguese weekly radio podcasts, listen here
Two training workshops in Bogota and in Panama for 55 journalists
“Latin America and the Millennium Development Goals” Journalistic Award, launched in a public ceremony organized on September 11 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

In words, pictures and audio the MDG message is communicated across the region.

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